Oxford Theatre undergoes digital transformation

When the Oxford Theatre reopens March 9, it will have switched from a 35mm film projector to a digital projection system.

The Oxford Theatre will reopen March 9th with it's brand new digital projection system. (Kimber Lubberts photo)

By Kimber Lubberts

The Oxford Theatre has joined the big leagues. When it reopens March 9th, the theatre will have switched from a 35mm film projector to a digital projection system, making it the last of the Empire Theatres in the Halifax Metro Region to do so.

“The whole industry is switching to digital,” says Dean Leland, vice president of media and studio relations at Empire Theatres. Leland explains that since early summer 2011, Empire Theatres from British Columbia to Newfoundland have been switching to the digital projection system. The Oxford Theatre, located at Quinpool and Oxford Streets, is the last in the HRM.  The Park Lane theatre has recently implemented the change as well.

Julie Hall, an executive of Dalhousie Cult Classics club, says she has nothing against the switch to digital, “but I do love the texture of a film reel being projected. It’s just a fuller experience.”

Hall says if she could, she would have the Oxford Theatre keep the 35mm film technology.

“I worked at Empire Theatres in Bayers Lake,” she says, “and I occasionally did tours of the building. My favourite part was showing off the projector room … just looking at the stacked reel canisters brought people back to being in awe of film.”

Related Resources
– Dalhousie Cult Classics club’s Facebook Page 

or on Tiger Society
Empire Theatres
Official Release on the 35mm to Digital transitions (PDF)

But Leland says switching to digital isn’t as bad as some people might think.

“Halifax is fortunate to have the Oxford Theatre. We’re just transitioning as technology improves,” says Leland. “We have no choice but to switch to digital because the 35mm technology is going away”.

Katherine Little, a film enthusiast and regular at the Empire Theatres doesn’t see the change as a huge deal.

“You don’t go to the movies to see if it’s digital or film, … you go to see the film itself. You’re going for the movie” she says.

The Park Lane theatre will keep a 35mm film projection system in storage for special occasions, so traditional film lovers will still have a chance to see certain movies in the original medium, something that is sure to please people like Hall.

“A film reel makes a film more real,” she says.

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