The manager of a movie theater was gracious enough to give me a tour when I asked if I could have one. Excuse the lack of fidelity in the pictures. There was a low-light condition and this was a lesser-quality camera.
They receive their movies one of two ways: They are either shipped a standard 3.5-inch hard-drive or, if it’s too large, it’s not a film, or there’s some other reason, they can get it via satellite downlink right to their server rack, which feeds it to their cameras:
There are extremely tight licensing controls on what they’re allowed to do with the media. They’re only allowed to play it on a certain number of cameras. The cost of the license to play the movie depends exactly on how many seats there are in the auditorium that it’s playing for. Since these are digital systems, the licensing software enforces these policies:
The lamps burn at a ridiculous level of intensity (I can’t recall the specific numbers right now). When they’ve reached their rated maximum number of operating hours, the camera will refuse to play until the lamp is replaced:
Christie, the company that makes these projectors, also supplies the lamps:
It’s shaped like a wand, where a bulb/lens in the middle discharges the light. The electricity enters one ends, shoots to the other, and glows brilliantly white in the middle. To put it in perspective, there’s enough light coming out an area that is about two or three times the size of your thumb to light up, what could be, a one-hundred-foot wide screen that is two-hundred feet away. Needless to say, it takes a little while to cool down. I would be willing to guess that it would explode if it encountered anything at room-temperature after it had just been turned-off.