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Cinema on the edge: Improvised film exhibition and digital projection in rural Australia

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Digital projection technologies are changing the nature of movie exhibition on a global scale. Commercial cinemas are now rapidly embracing the high-end (and high-cost) Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) Standard for projection in place of traditional 35mm film. This new equipment is helping to give exhibitors greater control over their programming schedules, lowering operating costs and enhancing the quality of the film presentation for audiences. The large capital cost of DCI equipment has meant that small, marginal cinemas have largely been excluded from this aspect of the digital revolution. However, they are not being left behind completely. The development of improved, low-cost systems for projecting films on DVD and Blu-ray disc has boosted the viability and flexibility of screenings in remote and isolated locations. This article focuses on the use of DVD projection in rural areas of Australia and examines some of the unique types of cinema enterprises that this technology is helping to support. More broadly, this article questions the veracity of claims regarding the demise of the cinema as a socially and culturally relevant place for viewing films.

Keywords: Barraba; The Playhouse Hotel Cinema; digital projection; film exhibition; rural cinema; sub-commercial cinema

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/sac.6.2.189_1

Affiliations: University of East Anglia

Publication date: November 29, 2012

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  • Launched in 2007, the journal engages in critical discussion of cinema from the Australian, New Zealand and Pacific region. Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific regions are home to many indigenous nations and immigrant cultures from all around the world. Studies in Australasian Cinema will maintain an emphasis on this diversity with a special interest in postcolonial politics and contexts. 
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