Keeping projectors and other cinema equipment up and running is a primary concern for exhibitors. If you own a Series 1 or an early Series 2 projector, you may already be facing significant cost of ownership issues, including more frequent breakdowns and longer downtimes. Even worse, manufacturers may no longer support your equipment — or may soon stop supporting it — making replacement parts expensive or even unavailable.
No matter what type of projection equipment you own, if you’re spending money on repairs, you should consider upgrading now rather than later. Let’s take a look at common upgrade concerns and the key factors to consider when purchasing a new cinema projector.
As an exhibitor, you’re focused on keeping your auditoriums full to maximize ticket sales, concession profits and other revenue streams. It’s tempting to delay the purchase of new projectors because you’ve been able to keep your old projectors up and running, even if repair and maintenance costs have started to rise. But the risk of projector system breakdowns becomes much greater as your equipment ages, and repair costs and lost revenues will quickly escalate.
Any time that an internal electronic component or some other part goes bad, it presents a costly problem. An even bigger problem is when a failure occurs at a particularly inopportune time, such as during the run of a summer or holiday blockbuster. A dark screen will take a big bite out of your profits.
Buying used equipment is another tempting approach. Similar to buying a used car or computer, this route may be appealing, but it also has a downside. A used projector may work fine in the short-run, but you’re buying older technology and placing yourself farther along the maintenance cost curve. You’ll soon face the same high repair costs and breakdown risks that you’re dealing with now.
Some exhibitors have fallen into the trap of delaying a new projector purchase until a projector breaks down for good, and that can be too late. The model that fits your needs may not be in stock, or discounts may not available, so your options may be limited — which could result in making a rushed purchasing decision or keeping your auditorium dark.
Here are four key factors to consider when assessing a potential cinema projector purchase:
Cutting-edge technologies: Don’t risk falling behind the technology curve. Laser (B, RB and RGB), DLP and 4K resolution are among the projection advances that have been introduced to cinemas over the past few years. These new technologies deliver the dazzling visual experiences that your customers have come to expect.
Maintenance costs: Seek out a new-generation laser cinema projector that requires only minimal maintenance. Look beyond the initial price tag and consider a projector’s total cost of ownership.
Customized solutions: Avoid just buying a piece of equipment and integrating it into your current operation. Find a complete solution that perfectly fits your needs. Consider manufacturers and their local partners who provide trusted, expert advice and dependable service.
Warranty: It’s best to buy a projector that comes with a lengthy warranty, such as three years. Look for a manufacturer that stands behind its products, including offering onsite support and out-of-warranty support.
If you buy smartly, a new-generation laser cinema projector can last for a long time. It will provide reliable, essentially hassle-free operation, so you can avoid high maintenance costs, repairs and downtime. Even better, it will offer your customers a superior cinema experience and help boost your bottom line.
Jeff Kaplan is a National Account Manager for digital cinema display technology at NEC Display Solutions with over 15 years of experience in the digital cinema field. He is also Director on the Board for the International Cinema Technology Association and received TriStates Theatre Association’s 2018 Person of the Industry award.