Five Hollywood studios sign digital cinema upgrade deal

Mumbai: Digital Cinema Implementation Partners (DCIP) has entered into long term agreements with Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney Motion Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Lionsgate Films for the deployment of digital projection systems to nearly 20,000 movie theatre screens across North America, including the AMC, Cinemark and Regal theatre chains.

Digital cinema promises a new world of programming flexibility, picture quality and image consistency, and will enable the addition of potent new viewing technologies including digital 3-D. It has already demonstrated the ability to expand alternative, non-traditional movie theatre programming including pre- recorded and live events, and will ultimately provide more and higher quality choices to entertainment seekers.

DCIP was formed in February 2007 as a joint venture owned equally by AMC Entertainment Inc., Cinemark Holdings, Inc. and Regal Entertainment Group for the purpose of financing, procuring and deploying digital projection systems to movie theatre screens across the United States and Canada.

This key milestone marks the first five of a number of agreements that DCIP intends to enter into with all of the major studios and independent distribution companies to ensure the widespread roll-out of digital technology. In accordance with these agreements, the digital projection systems deployed by DCIP will comply with the technology and security specifications developed by the Digital Cinema Initiatives studio consortium.

"This is a very exciting time in the motion picture exhibition industry," said DCIP CEO Travis Reid. "Within the next few years, we will see thousands of auditoriums retrofitted with digital technology across North America. Guests will enjoy enhanced presentation, as well as a number of additional entertainment options at their favorite theatres, including many upcoming releases using digital 3-D technology. Having these studios as our partners is critical to the success of digital cinema and we look forward to working with them to ensure a smooth and efficient digital transition."

Twentieth Century Fox Domestic Distribution president Bruce Snyder commented, "DCIP’s plans to deploy DCI compliant digital projection systems across North America not only marks the tipping point for the conversion in the United States but will ignite a more rapid conversion around the world. We are delighted with DCIP’s plans and are looking forward to working with our friends at DCIP, AMC, Regal and Cinemark to make this happen. A digital projection platform offers so many additional and enhanced entertainment choices for moviegoers not the least of which includes digital 3-D and various forms of alternative content."

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures president distribution Chuck Viane, said, "This is truly a significant breakthrough towards bringing digital cinema to moviegoers across North America, and we’re thrilled to be working with DCIP and some of the top exhibitors in expediting the installation of this superior new technology. There is no question that digital cinema is the way of the future, and the optimum way to present the very best visual and audio experience, in addition to all of its other benefits. Under the terms of this new agreement, 20,000 additional theatres will be able to offer the very best movie-going experience available today. Disney continues to support our partners in exhibition in making this transition to digital cinema, and this agreement is a major step in the right direction."

"Digital distribution is becoming increasingly important to the industry and to Paramount’s global distribution strategy and this agreement brings us one step closer to our ultimate goal – to provide audiences with the best movie viewing experience available with today’s technology," said Paramount Pictures president domestic theatrical distribution Jim Tharp.

"Universal is excited to see this endeavor come to fruition," said Universal Pictures president distribution Nikki Rocco. "Digital cinema technology will enhance the theatrical experience as studios and exhibitors will be able to offer moviegoers the ultimate in big-screen entertainment."

"Lionsgate is proud to partner with DCIP on their digital rollout in over 20,000 screens and their effort to provide the best movie-going experience for audiences nationwide," said Lionsgate president domestic distribution Steve Rothenberg. "We’re very happy to announce that we’ll be supplying DCIP’s exhibitor partners with one of the first 3-D movies under this agreement, My Bloody Valentine, on 16 January . We’re living in a digital age, and DCIP will provide studios like Lionsgate the resources to capitalize on this exciting new technology."

JP Morgan Securities and The Blackstone Group are acting as financial and structuring advisors to DCIP in connection with the financing for DCIP’s planned digital system deployment.

NATO congratulated the major studios and exhibitors on concluding this milestone agreement in the rollout of digital cinema.