Warner, Universal, DCI form distribution JV


MUMBAI: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Digital Cinema Implementation Partners (DCIP) have formed a joint venture that will evaluate and implement the most efficient form of digital delivery for digital cinema.

The announcement marks a first-time collaboration between studios and exhibitors to develop cost-effective form of digital content delivery through technologies such as satellite or digital terrestrial distribution.

The delivery system will be open and available to any content provider, vendor or exhibitor — including DCIP, which is owned equally by Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment Inc., and Cinemark USA, and represents more than 14,000 screens domestically.

“Utilizing digital distribution technologies to support digital cinema seems like a natural progression and complementary to the roll-out of projection systems that is currently taking place. We’re excited by the opportunities we will have to identify and implement the most effective, cost-efficient means for delivery of our films,” says Warner Bros executive vice president distribution and technology operations Darcy Antonellis.

Under the current distribution system, individual prints of each movie are physically shipped to theaters in cans — or hard drives in the case of existing digital cinema. As technology has evolved, exhibitors have led the charge for finding new digital methods of direct delivery, which could include satellite or broadband components.

“This system will provide theater owners with greater scheduling flexibility as it allows for real-time bookings to meet audience demands and expands a theater’s ability to deliver alternative programming. It’s a big win for content providers, theater owners and consumers,” says DCIP CEO Travis Reid.

A digital distribution system, which streamlines the delivery process and limits the number of people who handle the product, is expected to increase security and support the fight against film piracy.

Universal Pictures executive vice president Michael Joe added, “The conversion to digital cinema comes with the promise of creating new, previously impossible, theatrical opportunities for the exhibition business. A scalable, cost-effective solution for delivering content to theaters is at the heart of fulfilling that promise. We’re looking forward to being a part of this exploration.”

A number of the other distributors, including Fox, have expressed interest in evaluating the venture and the potential opportunities that it aims to provide to the industry.

“This venture is aimed at transforming the medium and providing new, enhanced experiences for consumers via a robust and cost-effective digital distribution system. We look forward to analyzing the options that this venture will identify that will support Fox’s D-Cinema strategy,” said Twentieth Century Fox executive vice president, digital cinema Julian Levin.