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One of the leaders in Digital Cinema Projection systems, AccessIT, announced today that it has commitments from four major movie studios to provide movies to up to 10,000 digital cinema systems in the U.S. and Canada over the next three years. This move is part of their "Phase Two" program.
The 10,000 systems figure is important because it represents a large percentage of the 37,000 screens in the U.S. (Canada totals could not be found while I was writing this). Currently, there are approximately 4,000 screens in the U.S. with Digital Cinema Projection systems installed, according to some industry experts. The 10,000 being discussed here is in addition to any that have already been installed.
According to the AccessIT press release, they have installed 3,700 systems in 41 states so far. Exhibitors involved include Atlas Theatres, Allen Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Celebration! Cinema, Cinema West, Cinetopia, Emagine, Galaxy Cinema, Marquee Cinemas, MJR Theatres, Neighborhood Cinema Group, Rave Motion Picture Theatres, Showplace Cinemas, UltraStar, and AccessIT's own Pavilion Digital Showcase Theatre.
The studios that have agreed to supply their movies are The Walt Disney Studios, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Pictures. They will pay "virtual print fees" which help to defray the cost of installing these systems, since the cost of electronic distribution is reportedly much less than shipping cans of film around the country.
One of the biggest challenges to the adoption of Digital Cinema Projection systems has been the high cost to exhibitors with no certain cost savings or additional revenues realized from the investment. Deals like this should make it possible for more theaters to have systems installed.
While film projection can technically provide a superior image to Digital Cinema projection, the reality is that most prints are not of pristine quality (think about what happens when you make too many copies of copies) and once they are shown in theaters, the film can become scratched and/or dirty, and poorly maintained and calibrated projector equipment can result in poor quality images to reach the screen. While Digital Cinema cannot compensate for all of the things a bad theater can do to make a movie experience substandard, Digital Cinema projection can eliminate many of them.
If you are interested in finding shows projected digitally, look for the logo to the right or for the mention of "Digital Projection" in the comments below the showtimes. (We're working on a brand-generic logo to indicate Digital Projection presentations, as not all of them are done with the Texas Instruments DLP technology. Watch for a new logo real soon now...)
Source: AccessIT Press Release
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