That was the stark warning offered by Julian Levin, Twentieth Century Fox executive vice president in charge of digital exhibition, in his keynote address at the Screen International's European Digital Cinema conference at Bafta in London.
These are critical times in the development of d-cinema, he said, when the business is in a period of "organised chaos."
'There are still early adopters and multiple systems formats out there but they represent terrible inefficiencies," he said.
Levin said the adoption of the DCI standard would allow a "seamless and interoperable" transition to digital from the celluloid world, which has operated on a single standard - ie 35mm - for 100 years.
The DCI standard was drawn up by a consortium formed by seven studios which has been working for years on the agreed standard.
It broadly aims to ensure the interoperability of equipment from any manufacturer; technology standards that allow digital content from any distributor to play on all DCI-compliant digital equipment; and stringent security standards.
But the standard is not without critics. Some believe that it is a means of ensuring continued domination of the studios in the new digital world.
Some speakers at the conference also warned that the costs of DCI compliance were too high for independents.
Levin said there was still time to influence the debate on the shape of the digital cinema future.
That window is closing however, he warned, and anyone who hadn't engaged with the debate in the next year risked having a solution imposed on them.
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For more on the conference, see next week's Screen International.