• Willis Johnson and family, inside the Tivoli Theater (photo courtesy Classic Cinemas website)

In the last installment of this interview series on digital projection, I spoke to Gene Siskel Film Center projectionist Brandon Doherty about accommodating multiple projection formats in a single booth. Based on the challenges Doherty described vis a vis that process, I can only imagine the stress of converting 100 projection booths, as the suburban theater chain Classic Cinemas recently did. To learn about such a large-scale conversion, I spoke with the chain’s owner, Willis Johnson, who’s been running theaters since 1978. He was more than happy to talk about the exhibition business, both before and after the recent conversion to DCP. Our conversation follows the jump.

Also, to indulge in a bit of self-promotion, tonight I’ll be taking part in a conversation about the conversion from film to digital at the Gene Siskel Film Center, following the 6 PM screening of the documentary Side by Side. The panel will be moderated by WBEZ’s Allison Cuddy, and my distinguished co-panelists will be Siskel programmer Barbara Scharres, School of the Art Institute professor Daniel Eisenberg, and local filmmaker Dan Nearing.