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Threat of closure hangs over Merseyside cinemas future, without vital digital equipment. this article has not been updated since it was first published in 2011 Wooltons cinema and Crosby have since upgraded to digital projection.   With the impending switch over from 35mm film projection to digital (hard drive) projection lurking on the UK cinema horizon, there are real concerns that some of the smaller independent cinemas may not be able to afford the cost of upgrading their film equipment to digital and without the new equipment it could result in closure. One such cinema on Merseyside with this financial headache is the Crosby Plaza community cinema. With mounting concerns for their future existence the Plaza trustee’s have set up a public appeal fund aimed at raising at least £120,000.00 to replace their (soon to be) antiquated 35mm analogue film projectors. The Woolton Picture house is another cinema on Merseyside which will no doubt find itself in the same precarious position as Crosby’s cinema unless they too take the plunge into digital cinema sooner rather than later. Suggestions that the ‘Woolly’ (as the cinema is affectionately known locally) should stick with the old traditional 35mm format and become a dedicated classic-oldie style film theatre, (romantic and sentimental as the idea may sound) ought to be dismissed out of hand by those who want to see their local cinema survive and flourish into the future. Some say the ‘Three tenures’ who own the Woolton picture house have for too long harvested the fruits of the former cinema owner’s investment (following his untimely death in 2006), with little evidence to show of sowing any seeds themselves for the cinema’s current long term future. If that is true then now is as good a time as any for them to make a lasting contribution of their own and prove themselves worthy custodians by reinvesting in new digital equipment. However, if their half-hearted attempts to upgrade the buildings façade, canopy and disable facilities are anything to go by, then the future will look less than bright when the time comes to make the change to digital. Looking at the Bigger and brighter picture, unlike Crosby cinema the Woolton picture house is a business operation which does not rely on any public funding, nor does it engage the services of volunteers to keep the wheels turning and thankfully they only need to budget for just the one screen digital upgrade as apposed to Crosby’s three. With this in mind, If they [the cinema owners] are astute enough to finance and undergo a fully automated digital upgrade without being lead down the proverbial garden path by those employee’s most likely to be threatened by change, then by using the extra revenue gained from the added attraction of 3d digital presentations & digitally remastered classics, along with the huge annual savings they will make by no longer having to employ the services of a full-time chief projectionist (who’s position and salary will unavoidably become extinct and untenable), then they will effortlessly weather the storm and easily recoup the costs of their digital investment within a relatively short period of time.   The simplicity of digital cinema will also for the first time allow the cinema owners the freedom and control to run their cinema business the way they want to run it without being under the autocratic constraint of any one particular person’s skill to allow them to. Technically if the digital installation is thought through properly it will be possible to start the show from any given location by any unskilled individual e.g from the comfort of the cinema owners own home. They would however most likely follow the example of other digital cinemas by downloading the film from the distributor via satellite to a local hard drive connected to the digital projector, then have the cinema’s part time student confectionary attendant open the curtains and start the movie show simply by pressing a button on their iphone app in one hand while at the same time serving soft drinks or popcorn with their other hand and who knows when the owners of Woolton picture house discover just how easy it is to operate digital projection equipment they may well decide to recoup their digital expenditure even quicker by attaching a broomstick to the part-time attendants backside and have them brush up the discarded popcorn from between the rows of seats all at the same time! From a wage saving and business management perspective the argument in favour of digital cinema is a no-brainer which instead of posing as a threat to Woolton’s cinema may well turn out to be its saviour.  
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To make a donation to the Crosby cinema digital appeal fund contact:  manager@plazacinema.org.co.uk
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