Mumbai: Eastman Kodak has signed up two mid-sized cinema operators in the US market for entire circuit-wide conversion of their screens to digital. The first major signing was Santikos Theatres with 126 screens in Texas. The first installations of which have already been completed in the newly opened Silverado Houston multiplex, and will be followed by a complete conversion to an all digital circuit. The second signing was Goodrich Quality Theatres which operates 280 screens in 32 venues across the USA. The deployments will begin in 2008, although it is not known how many will be completed during the first phase of the roll-out.
The model is based on a new business proposal offered by Kodak that includes contributions from all stakeholders in the theatrical value chain benefiting from use of the digital equipment. As a result, the exhibitor is expected to pay a contribution to the total, alongside the Studios as well as other content providers. Kodak stated it has agreements in principle with several major Studios and independent content providers for a level of virtual print fee (VPF) support.
Kodak is positioning itself as a full systems integrator, and as such the deals also include the use of Kodak’s networked system, which is known to include its D-cinema server and theatre management system (TMS). It is not know which projector manufacturer/s have been chosen for these deployments.
Following the two deals comprising over 400 screens in North America, Kodak has also been selected to provide digital installation and support for 15 screens of Empire Theatres in Canada. The deal for select screens is specifically to enable digital deployment for 3D purposes, targeting the release of Hannah Montana in the territory. The screens will also be equipped with Christie Digital 2K DLP Cinema projectors and a digital 3D upgrade from RealD, the leading provider of stereoscopic technology for cinemas. The Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert movie has grossed close to $65m since its release in the US market, from a maximum of just 683 3D theatre locations.
The market for D-cinema third-party networks or providers is becoming increasingly crowded in North America with AccessIT, Technicolor Digital Cinema, DCIP and the Cinema Buying Group all targeting upwards of 5,000 screens each for digital conversion over the next few years.