– How do movie theaters get the digital copy of the movies they are showing?

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Do theaters get a Hard Drive with the digital copy? Do they stream? Consider the thousands of theaters getting a movie that opens at the same time across the country, I want to know the logistics of getting that data to the theater.

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20 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

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Anonymous 0 Comments

I did some work in a movie theater about 15 years ago when they were moving to full digital. The movies used to come on USB drives that were preprogrammed to only work at the times that the cinema had registered screenings with the distributor.

The staff all complained at the time because it meant that they couldn’t see the movie before showing it and thus couldn’t make recommendations to the customers.

The manager at the time told me that the USBs were temporary and that eventually the movies would be streamed directly to the theatre. (I think via satellite as part of my job was installing a huge satellite dish on the roof.)

Anonymous 0 Comments

A Hard Drive is correct, unless it’s changed recently.

[Here’s an interesting post from /u/nutteronabus about the process](https://imgur.com/a/hTjrV)

Anonymous 0 Comments

I used to work at the movies, so I know a little about this. Most of the time, the movies come in an encrypted hard drive. We plug them into the projector computer download and play. Sometimes we download via satellite, pretty rare in my experience. And for those directors that want the movie to be in film. We get reels and reels and reels. For those we usually start splicing the reels together onto the platter early Monday to run it Wednesday night and look for any defects in picture, sound and order, and that’s it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Most theaters will get a hard drive containing the movie, some (I think less often now) will get it through a satellite download. It’s not streamed online—the movie sent can be upwards of 1TB (or more) large. The movie is then “ingested” into the theater’s show management server, and played from that server.

To prevent leaks, the file is of course encrypted and watermarked, and the decryption key that the theater is issued is locked to the physical projector that will be used to play it.

They are called “Digital Cinema Packages” or DCPs.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I worked in cinemas over ten years ago. We could rent old movies for a small fee. I managed to get a 35mm copy of Jurassic Park in 2004/2005 and had a birthday party for my roommate in the cinema. Pretty awesome! We also moved over from 35mm to Sony Digital and had the most amazing guys come from Japan to help with set-up. They spoke no English at all. But yeah, as previously mentioned, the movies came on hard drives. Trailers came on USB sticks. Things may have changed since then though!

Anonymous 0 Comments

Side question- can I just request an old movie (let’s say O Brother Where Art Thou) to play in a cinema that I rent out for a couple of hours? And if so could they just use a DVD?

Anonymous 0 Comments

Depends on the theater. Some places recieve them on hard drives, others get them as a satellite download. In either case, the encrypted files are copied onto some sort of local storage, and they can only be played back with a time limited key that will expire at the end of the movie’s scheduled run.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I seem to remember a news story at the time that it was also one of the first pirated movies that was available at full resolution and theater quality. (not a CAM or other techniques.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_A.E.

Titan A.E. became the first major motion picture to be screened in end-to-end digital cinema.
On June 6, 2000, ten days before the film was released, at the
SuperComm 2000 trade show, the movie was projected simultaneously at the
trade show in Atlanta, Georgia as well as a screen in Los Angeles, California. It was sent to both screens from the 20th Century Fox production facilities in Los Angeles via a VPN.[16]

Anonymous 0 Comments

Most Cinemas get a “hard copy”, usually an encrypted hard drive or a “reel of tape”.
The logistics is a very old and tested method.
The movie “producer” will have already found a “distributor” whom will rent the copy to a theater “owner”.

This simple line can get blurred/overlap as now many big producers owns distribution channels and release dates are planned with advertising in mind.