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Film distribution goes digital in select theaters

Aug 23,2007
The age of digital film distribution has opened in Korea as movies are being sent to theaters as digital files instead of on plastic film reels.
KT said yesterday that it launched its digital film transmitting service and that the Korean movie “Killer Happy Ending,” which opened in theaters yesterday, is the first movie to be distributed in a file format.
KT signed agreements with major theater chains such as Lotte Cinema, Cinus and MMC last September.
This digital cinema platform is the first of its kind in Korea and involves transmitting files using KT’s network system. KT is the top fixed-line telecom service firm in Korea.
Since the files are in a digital format, theaters must use digital film projectors. Until now, films had to be copied, developed with subtitles and then converted back into digital format in the process of distribution. This took not only a lot of time, but also money.
Environmentalists also complained about pollution created when plastic film was burned, said Kwon Sun-hong, a senior official at KT’s solutions department.
He pointed out that this digital cinema platform will most likely not work in many countries for the time being because of low numbers of high-speed Internet connections. Heavy files will not be able to transfer quickly in countries with poor Internet connection infrastructure, Kwon said. Files are sent simultaneously.
Digital film distribution, however, is not taking place in the entire industry. KT does not have agreements with all cinemas, so some cinemas will still use the conventional method of distribution.
Also, while this opens up cost-saving opportunities for local films, the entire film industry has yet to untangle issues regarding the legal digital distribution of foreign films, a rising issue in light of the looming free trade agreement between Korea and the United States.


By Wohn Dong-hee Staff Writer [wohn@joongang.co.kr]



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