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One of the obstacles to installing digital projection systems for smaller theaters is the cost of doing so. Many figures have been tossed around, anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per screen, depending on who you ask. Even at the lower number, an independent theater with 6 or 8 screens has difficulty justifying the investment of $300,000+ on equipment that does quite a bit to save movie studios money, but may not have a direct effect on ticket sales.
Larger movie chains, such as Regal and AMC are able to negotiate better terms for converting to digital cinema because of the high number of installations they represent. Independent theaters don't have this kind of buying power on their own, but a few years ago, a group called the Cinema Buying Group (CBG) was formed to try and combine the smaller theaters into a collective that would represent quantities that would attract better prices from vendors that serve movie theaters.
I remember that the CBG was trying to gather members at Showest a couple of years ago in order to gain some leverage with the digital projection system vendors. Those efforts finally came to fruition last fall when the CBG sent out a request for quote to those vendors, and the vendor selected was announced yesterday.
In a press release, Access Integrated Technologies, Inc. (AccessIT) announced that it has been selected by the CBG as the digital integrator for the CBG's 600+ members in the United States and Canada, which represent over 8,000 screens.
Hopefully, this deal will allow more independent theaters to make installations of digital projection systems a possibility. While it is possible for film presentations under ideal conditions to deliver better results than digital systems, the reality is that many theaters have difficulty delivering high quality presentations on a consistent basis. While digital projection doesn't overcome every issue, we have found it to improve the movie-going experience in typical theater situations.
Source: AccessIT Press Release
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