For me, this is about quality. Although Blu-ray looks fantastic -- it can even look good projected on a screen as big as the Plaza's -- neither it nor DVD (especially not DVD) come close to matching the resolution of 35mm film. (Even if we *were* to settle with those formats, not every film is available on either of them.) There are not decent 4K or even 2K digital masters made of many films, as we can see from the sub-par HD releases studios have offered up to consumers. It would be one thing if every film were scanned at 6K resolution à la A STAR IS BORN, or 4K resolution like BLADE RUNNER, CITIZEN KANE and THE WIZARD OF OZ, and then delicately restored before all its prints were taken out of circulation. To show films in this format would still require theaters like the Plaza to complete a costly upgrade, but at least we could potentially be offered an improved experience -- the chance to see a movie as good as its best available film elements for centuries to come. But that's not happening. If distributors are just going to expect repertory programming to make due with home entertainment formats, with 35mm relegated to hard-to-access private archives -- well, that SUCKS.
As an aside, I have to take issue with you saying the loss of GREMLINS in its native format "hardly seems like a deathblow to the art form." I'd be reluctant to dismiss the destruction of any part of our film heritage, but GREMLINS is a spectacular pop culture touchstone, a terrific achievement from one of our most daring and adventurous living filmmakers (at the very least, a significant and distinct voice of late twentieth-century movies), and itself stands as a tribute to movies and moviemaking.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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