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AMC to Convert All Theaters to Sony 4K Digital Cinema

Posted on Monday, March 30th, 2009 4:51 PM by Scott Jentsch

AMC Entertainment announced today that it has reached an agreement to install Sony 4K Digital Cinema Projection systems in all of its theaters across the country. AMC currently has 309 theaters and 4,628 screens, according to their press release, which was issued earlier today.

Sony SXRD Digital Cinema ProjectorDigital Cinema Projection systems replace the traditional film projector with a computerized server playing a digital copy of the movie to a digital projector. Sony's 4K system has a resolution of 4096 pixels by 2160 pixels, which is four times the amount of the more common 2K systems in place at many theaters equipped with Digital Cinema Projection systems. To give you a comparison, a 4K system results in a picture containing 8.8 million pixels. A 2K system has 2.2 million pixels, and your home HDTV has either 2.1 million (1080p) or 922,000 (720p) pixels.

"At AMC, we deliver movies and other great entertainment presented in an immersive, big-screen viewing environment," said Gerry Lopez, chief executive officer and president, AMC Entertainment Inc. "The agreement with Sony drives the quality and experience in that environment to the next level and is a prime example of our strong advocacy of the industry's move to a digital platform. Digital cinema provides a new world of programming flexibility and opportunities for exhibitors, as well as a more efficient method of supplying content to our theatres. Sony 4K technology is a key and will result in an enhanced entertainment experience for our guests."

AMC is planning to begin their conversion in the second quarter of this year and it will continue through 2012. The press release says that it already has 150 screens at 11 locations running Sony's systems, with 29 screens equipped with 3D capability. The first AMC installations were back in October 2007, with just four locations and 54 screens.

While it is technically possible for film projection to be of higher quality than digital projection, it has been our experience (and I believe a common one) that digital cinema provides the average moviegoer to the average multiplex a more stable, sharper, and cleaner picture. The lossless sound that is part of digital cinema also provides for higher sound quality than what is on film (although the improvement in sound quality is harder to distinguish for most people).

Last summer, I mentioned that the improvement between 4K and 2K may not be as much as one would think merely by doing the math. As more and more movie studios do their post-production work in 4K and above instead of 2K, hopefully the extra performance potential of 4K projection systems will be revealed.

Does this mark a single occurrence or the beginning of a series of announcements coming out of this week's Showest convention taking place in Las Vegas this week? Time will tell, but I'm hoping that the latter is the case, and digital cinema systems become widespread. If those systems also happen to be 4K systems, so much the better!

Press Release

AMC Entertainment To Convert Entire Circuit To Digital Cinema Projection With Sony 4K Systems

Roll-Out to More than 4,500 Screens Creates Largest Theatre Circuit Powered by Sony 4K Digital Technology

KANSAS CITY, Mo. and PARK RIDGE, N.J., March 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AMC Entertainment Inc. (AMC), a leading theatrical exhibition and entertainment company, has reached an agreement in principle with Sony Electronics to install 4K digital cinema projection systems across its theatre circuit.

With 309 theatres and 4,628 screens, AMC will be the largest entertainment company equipped with 4K digital technology in North America. It accelerates the momentum behind AMC's transition to digital projection technology and will provide AMC guests with the most state-of-the-art on-screen presentation available.

"At AMC, we deliver movies and other great entertainment presented in an immersive, big-screen viewing environment," said Gerry Lopez, chief executive officer and president, AMC Entertainment Inc. "The agreement with Sony drives the quality and experience in that environment to the next level and is a prime example of our strong advocacy of the industry's move to a digital platform. Digital cinema provides a new world of programming flexibility and opportunities for exhibitors, as well as a more efficient method of supplying content to our theatres. Sony 4K technology is a key and will result in an enhanced entertainment experience for our guests."

The Sony 4K digital cinema projections systems being installed at AMC offer the highest picture resolution of all available projection technologies (at 8.8 million pixels, 4K provides image resolution four times greater than 2K projection systems and slightly more than four times greater than high-definition). This, coupled with the ability to exhibit content in an exciting social environment and on screens that are up to 90 to 100 times larger than a typical in-home HDTV, puts AMC in a position to offer industry-changing technology resulting in an undeniably superior entertainment experience, Lopez said.

The 4K systems include manufacturing techniques that result in an efficient installation process. Sony's digital cinema team will work with AMC to provide technical support of the systems and operations management at the company's theatre locations.

"AMC's digital roll-out using 4K technology is a breakthrough for the digital cinema industry and is a model for how these systems can transform an exhibitor's operations," said John Scarcella, president of Sony Electronics' Broadcast and Business Solutions Company.

Looking beyond theatrical projection, Scarcella said the motion picture industry is now working with studios and cinematographers to produce and release 4K features. Sony Pictures Entertainment recently announced they will make and release most of their filmed productions using 4K technology. Sony is currently developing a complete line of digital 4K cinematography production equipment, including systems for 4K acquisition, storage and post-production.

"AMC's decision to install Sony's 4K projection systems is a clear commitment to provide an entertainment experience that far exceeds any other venue," said Gary Johns, vice president of Sony Electronics' Digital Cinema Systems Division. "We are thrilled to join AMC in its effort to raise the level of theatrical presentations."

The AMC roll-out of Sony digital projection systems is planned to begin in the second calendar quarter of 2009 and continue across AMC's North American theatre circuit through 2012. Currently, AMC features Sony's digital projection systems in 11 theatres on 150 screens throughout the circuit; 29 of the current Sony-equipped screens feature 3D capabilities, with additional 3D screens planned as the AMC roll-out continues.

The AMC and Sony agreement is part of an initiative being led by Digital Cinema Implementation Partners, LLC (DCIP), an organization formed in 2007 by AMC, Cinemark USA, Inc. and Regal Entertainment Group. DCIP is charged with planning and implementing the deployment of digital cinema.

About AMC Entertainment Inc.

Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., AMC Entertainment Inc. is a leading theatrical exhibition and entertainment company. With a history of industry leadership and innovation dating back to 1920, the company today serves hundreds of millions of guests annually through interests in 309 theatres with 4,628 screens in five countries. www.amctheatres.com.

About Sony Electronics

Sony Electronics' Broadcast and Business Solutions Company develops and manufactures video and audio technologies for professional applications including its 4K projectors for digital cinema, as well as technologies for broadcast television and motion picture production, event videography, ENG/EFP, digital cinematography, videoconferencing, IP surveillance and security, digital signage, and remote system diagnostics and monitoring. For more information about Sony's 4K projectors, visit www.sony.com/digitalcinema.

Source:  AMC Entertainment Inc.; Sony Electronics



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