To compete with the flashy style and ambience of multiplexes, the traditional cinema halls in the district, including the city, have gone digital. In total, 28 screens in the city and over 60 in the district have been upgraded to the digital format. For them projecting analog films is passé.

Not only have they gone digital with 1k, 2k and 4k technology, but also have equipped themselves to handle satellite transmission in tune with any of the multiplexes, says Jagadamba theatre director Jagadish.

The theatre owners feel that upgrading and staying in tune with the latest technology is the mantra for survival. Besides going digital, they also upgraded the sound system by installing DTS and Dolby. Jagadamba theatre has gone ahead installing the latest state-of-the-art Line Array sound system.

The theatre owner also opines that despite over 14 multiplex screens coming up in a short period, they have not lost their sheen. “Patrons still flock to the theatres for the big screen experience and value for money. And that is why most of us have decided to plough back our returns by upgrading the systems,” says Seshu Babu of Sri Kanya.

While the 4k technology costs about Rs. 35 lakh, 2k is about Rs. 25 lakh and 1k is little over Rs. 13 lakh. “This apart, the 3D projector costs about Rs. 12 lakh,” says the director of Jagadamba.

Along with upgrading the theatres technically, the owners have retained most of the old staff who were adept at the old analog projection system. “We have been trained to handle the digital format. All we have to do is to set the programme and run the film. Everything is computerised, and the heavy spool film cans have been replaced by light and small hard disks,” says P. Satyanarayana, an operator.

Business pattern

According to P.S.P.V. Prasad of Chandramahal theatre, ever since digitisation most of the cinema theatres have been doing well. “The business pattern has changed. Today, we no longer run a single movie for weeks. Every week there is a change and that brings in new audience. Thanks to the public transport facilities, even people from rural parts now troop down on weekends to get a feel of the big screen,” he says.

The only problem they have been facing is power. “Unscheduled and prolonged power cut is hitting us badly. While normal power comes at Rs. 9 per unit, generated power through diesel generator costs about Rs. 15,” says Seshu Babu.

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