For more than 100 years, film was the only practical media for sending motion pictures and other programmes to cinematic theatres around the world.
However, another option has emerged - digital cinema, a system for delivering full-length motion pictures to theatres via digital technology.
While China's movie industry still lags behind the United States and some European countries, few people realize China is on the cutting edge of digital cinema.
But the pending screening of a Hollywood digital blockbuster, "K-19 The Widowmaker," has made digital film the talk of the town in Beijing.
Starting this Friday, the movie will be shown nationwide.
The US$100 million production was inspired by a true story at the height of the Cold War. Captain Alexi Vostrikov (portrayed by Harrison Ford) is ordered to prepare the K-19, pride of the Soviet Navy, for sea and take her out on patrol. But problems with the submarine arise that may lead to a core meltdown and explosion that will certainly kill all aboard, and possibly trigger nuclear war.
In a daring act of heroism, Vostrikov must choose between his orders from the Kremlin and the lives of his men.
The Digital Cinema Management Centre, attached to China Film Group Corporation and the distributor of "K-19," expects to make digital cinema better known among ordinary movie fans by importing more such productions.
According to Huang Yaozu, general director of Hualong Digital Cinema Production Co, which is also attached to China Film Group Corporation, there are now 34 digital theatres on the Chinese mainland, located in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Ningbo and several other cities.
That accounts for more than 60 per cent of the total amount in Asia, while Japan and South Korea only have one each.
Only the United States, with 78, has more digital theatres than China.
Huang said the China Film Group Corporation will build 200 new digital theatres within the next few years.
For movie fans, that is absolutely music to the ears. While the new technology will benefit all segments of the movie industry, it will also make going to the theatre more enjoyable by providing a pristine digital image and crisp audio experience at every showing.
Compared to traditional technology, digital cinema also has an obvious economic edge. This was fully reflected in "Finding Nemo," which was shown earlier this year. The animated production was shown with two versions - the film version and the digital version - at Huaxing, one of the best-equipped theatres in Beijing.
As much as 900,000 yuan (US$109,000) of the film's total box office in Huaxing of 1.06 million (US$128,000) came from the digital version, according to Huang.