South Korean Cinemas Go Completely Digital

The country's last remaining theater to show analog films has switched over to digital, while related businesses are closing doors.

SEOUL -- Analog films will no longer be available in South Korea, as the last of local analog theaters has gone digital and other related businesses are closing.

Cinecube, an arthouse theater in central Seoul and the country's last remaining cinema to show analog movies, replaced all of its film projectors with digital ones earlier this month, the theater told Yonhap News Agency.

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The theater follows in the footsteps of Korea's major cinema chains. In April, the country's largest multiplex brand CJ CGV replaced all of its projectors with up-to-date digital equipment; Lotte Cinema went completely digital in 2010. Megabox, another big local theater chain, completed the process in late 2012.

Cinecube and CGV's arthouse theater Movie Collage will hold on to analog film projectors. They will be used for special film showcases or retrospectives. Moviegoers will be unable to watch new releases in analog film.

The digitization process has affected related business.

"It's sad to see what seems to be the end of an era," said Jang Gang-seok of Seoul Film Laboratory, a film processing firm that has developed such notable works in contemporary Korean cinema as Kim Jee-woon's The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008) and Park Chan-wook's Thirst (2009).

The firm will permanently close its doors, joining other major film laboratories that have shut down during the past two years.

Cinemate, a film processing laboratory and Korea's last remaining firm that creates subtitles for analog films, will wrap up its analog business. The firm says it will shift its focus to digital movie subtitles and postproduction work, starting in January next year.

"Local film fans will no longer be able to see new films made in analog," said Song Sang-gyun, a board member of Cinemate.