Showeast 2012: Paramount Exec Warns Film's End 'Could be Tomorrow'

The conference puts the focus on Latin America, where less than half of its 10,000 screens are digital.

HOLLYWOOD, FLA.— "I don't know when the end [of film] will be, but it could be tomorrow,” warned Mark Chistiansen, executive vp of operations at Paramount Pictures, on Monday as he urged exhibitors who still rely on film to convert to digital projection.

"It won’t be a studio decision… there simply won't be stock," he said at Showeast, explaining that Fuji has stopped taking film orders as it winds down its film business and Agfa "to the best of my knowledge quit producing film."

"That leaves Kodak,” Christiansen continued, citing the film giant that is working to emerge from bankruptcy protection. "The judge could look at 35mm tomorrow and ask them to stop doing it. And they won’t have a choice."

STORY: Sony Focused on Digital Cinema Conversion

Monday’s International Day at Showeast, which runs through Thursday at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood Fla., put particular emphasis on Latin America where less than half of its estimated 10,000 total screens are digital.

Integrators now working in these markets include Arts Alliance Media, DGT, GDC, Scrabble, Sony Digital Cinema and Telem.

Also on Monday, speakers discussed how they get digital cinema files to the theaters.

Several speakers said the flexibility and economies of scale make satellite distribution an attractive option for digital cinema delivery compared with shipping hard drives. "We think satellite is the best choice for now," said Randolph Blotky, chairman and CEO of Technology Convergence Partners and consultant to industry initiative Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition. "Once they figure out how to delivery IP streams point to multipoint, you are going to see a lot of delivery that way."

Noting that capacity will continue to increase while prices decrease on physical media, Sony Pictures Releasing’s executive vp marketing and distribution Scott Sherr added that at some point "the pendulum might swing back to physical delivery."