Monday, September 29, 2008

3D Screens Set To Explode Across Country: Studios To Ante Up $1B

Who wants to see this man in 3D? Well if Favreau and Marvel come on board, it looks like the screens will be in place to make it happen!

Jim here. The Digital Cinema Implementation Partners (DCIP) including AMC, Regal and Cinemark theater chains will be rolling out 15,000 digital upgrades for their screens
over the next 3 years. And now, it will soon be official that the studios (Disney, Paramount, Universal and Fox - with Sony and Warner Bros soon to be involved) will be paying a virtual print fee (VPF) to the chains for several years to make this happen.

From THR: "The deal means studios will pay a majority of the roughly $100,000 per system in hardware and installation costs to install d-cinema equipment in theaters operated by the biggest theater chains. That will facilitate not only digital projection in the converted auditoriums but potentially also 3-D exhibition, if the theater owners decide to take on the extra, more modest expense for 3-D installations on their own. "

For those who don't know, a print fee was the amount that a studio would have had to pay to print copies of their films for traditional movie screens. Now that so many movies are in digital format, there is no need to print thousands of copies and distribute those heavy canisters - they are simply downloaded to computer hard drive for the projectors.

To me, the digital experience is so much more cleaner and brighter it is a no-brainer. Not to mention that it is much more environmentally friendly to distribute digitally.

Moreover, this allows for the rapid deployment of modern 3D projection equipment
which depends on these digital screens being in place. If you will remember, there are existing deals with Regal,
Cinemark and the NATO Cinema Buying Group with Real D to get this done as soon as the digital infrastructure is in place.

Well the time is now!
With $1 billion coming from the studios (backed by JP Morgan) we will see a rapid expansion of digital AND 3D implementations very soon. The first areas to see the change will be the mid and large markets for pragmatic reasons, but other smaller areas are that much closer to getting 3D screens because of this rather large group hug that the studios and chains are giving each other. 3000 screens are expected to be upgraded to digital in the next year.

If there was any doubt that 2009 will be the YEAR
OF 3D, they will soon be obilterated. It is looking pretty darn good that AVATAR will have the screens it needs in December 2009 now and maybe, we will see RDJ in that 3D red and gold suit of his - lets get those screens converted!! :-)

Image courtesy of Marvel

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