Getting Down to Business: CinemaCon 2011

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Wed, 04/13/2011 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

Timing is everything in life. The last several years of the exhibition event ShoWest will always be remembered to a certain degree with the phrase “just around the corner ” a reference to the frustrations of getting the digital cinema transition in full gear. In contrast the inaugural CinemaCon is likely to be remembered with phrases such as “gold rush” as an astonishing number of business deals were announced during the show’s four days. This is often the case at trade shows when there are few major new technology introductions. There were virtually none at CinemaCon 2011 and probably as a consequence people felt even more empowered to move forward. There was one special first at the convention and that was the keynote address given by newly named head of the Motion Pictures Association of America Christopher Dodd former Democratic Senator from Connecticut. Speaking on just his ninth day on the job Dodd promised to be an enthusiastic industry supporter and obviously a strong advocate in Washington. Anyone reading this article will probably find it difficult to believe that there are still a few exhibitors who believe they can get by without digital. Others who insist that 3D is a fad yet again. I don’t know specific names but they attended various functions that I did. Getting their names didn’t seem worth the effort. Any exhibitor – certainly in North America – who has not made the move to digital in the next 12-24 months at the latest will be out of business very soon. Of that there is little doubt. In his state of the industry address John Fithian president of the National Association of Theatre Owners made that point rather bluntly: “For any exhibitor who can hear my voice who hasn’t begun your digital transition I urge you to get moving ” he said. “The distribution and exhibition industries achieved history when we agreed to technical standards and a virtual print fee model to enable this transition.  But the VPFs won’t last forever.  Domestically you must be installed by the end of 2012 if you want to qualify.  Equally significantly based on our assessment of the roll out schedule and our conversations with our distribution partners I believe that film prints could be unavailable as early as the end of 2013.  Simply put if you don’t make the decision to get on the digital train soon you will be making the decision to get out of the business.” Fithian said this in the context of an otherwise upbeat speech. “It remains a great time to be in the cinema business ” he said. “Global box office receipts have climbed 30 percent over five years to a record high of 31.8 billion dollars in 2010 and domestic box office has climbed 15 percent to 10.6 billion.  The rate of inflation by comparison rose only 8 percent during the past five years.  Compare that to other segments of the entertainment industry such as home video where sales have declined by 13 percent over the past five years.” Much of this success can be directly attributed to digital cinema technology he said. “The digital revolution has simply exploded since a year ago.  Here in the U.S. we have nearly 16 000 digital screens out of a total of 39 000.  Almost 9 000 of those digital screens are equipped to project in 3D.  We will add thousands more this year.” If the number of business announcements that were made at this event are an indicator Fithian’s predictions – both positive and negative – could well be understatements. Business Christie and Harkness Screens announced that they have teamed up to help exhibitors more easily transition from film to digital projection. With the transition to 3D well underway as a result of this partnership exhibitors can help cut operating costs roughly in half as gain screens use smaller lamps that are cheaper last longer and consume less power. “We are thrilled to partner with Christie to educate further our customers on how to maximize their transition to digital ” says Andrew Robinson Harkness Screens managing director.  “Through this collaboration we are able to offer a quality and cost-effective solution.”
 In other Christie news Rave Motion Pictures announced a services alliance with Christie Managed Services.  A longtime user of Christie projectors Rave is now entrusting CMS to service its entire Lobby Entertainment Network . “As a large and decentralized operation we were having a hard time finding a good outsourced provider for our digital signage needs ” said Brad Wardlow vice president of operations for Rave Motion Pictures. “We have 61 locations in 21 states and all too often outages resulted in inoperable displays in the common areas of our lobby and concession spaces with the resultant repairs being expense and taking a long time to complete. We needed find a worry-free solution so we could concentrate on our business which is to deliver a total theater experience to our movie-patron customers.” In addition to movie projectors Rave provides a Lobby Entertainment Network air show display over concession areas more than 500 digital menu boards LED way-finder signage and extensive LED signage in its box offices. A previous provider had often used distant non-local technicians causing high travel and accommodation costs and longer time frames to service and support these products. In contrast CMS created a one-stop manageable strategy that addresses ongoing preventive maintenance as well as immediate attention to any problems. “This solution makes total sense for us operationally financially and aesthetically ” said Wardlow. “The only question we have been asking ourselves is ‘why did we take so long to make the decision?’ We’re getting faster service more preventative/proactive management of our signage program and all at lower costs.” “Christie and Rave collaborated to identify sites create inventories of assets and to develop a more planned life-cycle approach to managing these assets versus a reactive approach to emergencies ” said Sean James vice president Christie Managed Services. “The CMS approach is to provide a support strategy which minimizes the amount of down time and expense associated with deploying the technology cinema owners want to use. By leveraging our technology and national networks of people and parts we are able to significantly improve the availability of displays and projection systems.” Dolby Laboratories announced that Ramesh Sippy Entertainment's Dum Maaro Dum will be released on April 22 in India with Dolby Surround 7.1. Produced by Ramesh Sippy Entertainment and distributed by Fox Star Studios Dum Maaro Dum is a dramatic thriller set among the beaches side streets and raves of Goa. The film stars Abhishek Bachchan Bipasha Basu Rana Duggabati and Pratiek Babbar and will feature a soundtrack created by Pritam. It is a pleasure to be first off the block with mixing my film Dum Maaro Dum in Dolby Surround 7.1. Viewers will be delighted with the enhanced sound experience of this phenomenal product said Rohan Sippy the film's director. Dum Maaro Dum a thriller for the audience will have more depth more realism and an even greater sense of being in the middle of the action. Dolby Surround 7.1 takes the excitement of movies to the next level. The Dolby Surround 7.1 mix was conducted by FutureWorks Media with Manas Ranjan Choudhury as sound designer and Debojit Changmai as sound mixing engineer. Dolby has been helping filmmakers realize their artistic visions through continued innovation in audio and visual technologies for forty years said Matt Cuson senior director marketing Cinema Market Segment Dolby Laboratories. We are pleased to support Indian filmmakers with Dolby Surround 7.1. This technology gives filmmakers greater control over the definition and placement of sounds and is designed to help them unleash the full depth and power of their creative visions. NEC announced that its NC3240S (7kW and 4kW versions) 4K DLP Digital Cinema Projectors are shipping to customers. The NC3240S was first shown to the public in October 2010 at ShowEast as a pre-production model. “We are delighted to be launching these projectors as we approach the summer season with the wave of new 3D movie releases ” said Jim Reisteter general manager for Digital Cinema Projectors at NEC Display Solutions. “With both increased resolution and brightness patrons will enjoy advanced imagery that is especially noticeable on very large screens. Our engineering team has excelled in furthering the use of premier components and manufacturing processes to guarantee the reliability that is renowned in NEC products.” In other news from NEC Wehrenberg Theatres selected NEC digital cinema projectors for its 210 screens in the Midwest. Wehrenberg will deploy NEC digital cinema projectors - the NC1200 NC2000 and NC3240S models - to replace its 35mm technology for its cinemas across Missouri and other central states.  Sixty-five digital systems already have been installed.

 NEC Financial Services provided the financing for the Wehrenberg deployment while Ballantyne Strong is supplying 4K digital projection systems installation and ongoing maintenance services after installation. Cinedigm is responsible for structuring and implementing the underlying VPF agreement that enables Wehrenberg’s conversion to digital cinema as well as providing the entire administration responsibility of the VPF program for Wehrenberg. GDC Technology will provide the cinema servers. “We selected NEC projectors because of their reliability and our strong working relationship with NEC over the last number of years ” said Ronald P. Krueger chairman and CEO of Wehrenberg Theatres.  “As we complete our migration to digital technology and explore alternative content we’re grateful to have NEC and its partners contribute to making the Wehrenberg experience that much more memorable for our guests.” The NEC deployment is scheduled to begin in April and slated for completion in September 2011.

“Wehrenberg Theatres will enjoy all the benefits of the NEC technology such as lower operating costs centralized operations and the highest digital cinema projector quality on the market ” said Pierre Richer president and COO of NEC Display Solutions.  “Wehrenberg has built a reputation for innovation over their 105 years of existence and we’re proud to support them in this next phase of their growth.” “Wehrenberg has created a unique theater experience for movie-goers in the Midwest and upgrading to the latest in digital projection equipment will no doubt be well received ” said Gary Cavey president and CEO of Ballantyne Strong.  “We are delighted to once again partner with Cinedigm as well as both NEC Financial Services and NEC Display Solutions.”

“Cinedigm is grateful to be working with valued partners NEC Display Solutions and Ballantyne in the Wehrenberg Theatres deployment ” said Chuck Goldwater president media services sroup at Cinedigm.  “We welcome the opportunity to help Wehrenberg build upon its past successes and forge relationships with new customers.” Sony Electronics announced a new program for exhibitors to participate in the 4K digital cinema conversion. The Exhibitor Managed Financing Program allows a theatre to own their installed digital cinema equipment and through participation in Sony’s Virtual Print Fee program with major Hollywood studios reduce their total cost of ownership as they convert to digital technology. Under this new program exhibitors will purchase equipment and extended warranty on the projector from Sony directly with Sony managing the back-end VPF billing and collection process on their behalf.  Exhibitors will also enter into a long-term services agreement with Sony for equipment maintenance. “Sony is committed to making our 4K Digital Cinema equipment available to exhibitors of all sizes ” said Pat Leon senior manager business development.  This new Exhibitor Managed Financing Program fills a gap in the market.  It enables small exhibitors who for strategic or financial reasons wish to own the equipment outright to give their customers the Sony 4K experience while simultaneously benefitting from the lower total cost of ownership that a VPF program affords.” The program includes Sony’s 4K Projector a central storage server a Theatre Management System and 10-year equipment warranty as well as transportation installation and regularly scheduled maintenance of the projector.  As usage fees are paid on the projector Sony will bill and collect those usage fees on behalf of the exhibitor and retain a percentage of the total usage fees as compensation for Sony’s administrative services.   To support this model Sony has arranged non-exclusive relationships with financiers including GE Capital to help exhibitors who are interested in exploring new financing options. However exhibitors are under no obligation to use GE Capital. Exhibitors who have existing relationships with preferred financing partners are able to maintain those while still participating in this program. Sony stressed that exhibitors have the right to seek financing from any source including GE Capital and are under no obligation to use GE Capital. In other Sony news Sony said that it has selected Arqiva as their technology partner for the live global 3D distribution of the 2011 Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships to worldwide cinemas. This will be the first time this famous tournament has been transmitted live to cinemas or seen in stunning high-definition 3D and so it represents an innovative and unique viewing opportunity for tennis enthusiasts all around the world. Four key matches will be transmitted: the men’s semi-finals the women’s final and the men’s final. Working closely with Sony and their theatrical distribution partners Supervision Media Arqiva will provide the complete global transmission chain via Arqiva’s Digital Cinema Satellite Distribution System including SNG teleport services and satellite capacity. Arqiva’s Digital Cinema platform on IS-905 will electronically distribute Sony’s feed to European cinemas with multiple international satellites used to reach 3D capable cinemas around the globe. George Eyles head of digital cinema at Arqiva Broadcast & Media said “We have an excellent working relationship with both Sony and Supervision and are delighted that they have asked us to distribute this famous sporting event in such an innovative and high-tech medium. We will provide considerable input into the many technical aspects of the transmissions drawing on our previous experience of delivering 3D cinema events including the 2010 Rugby Six Nations 2010 Football World Cup and the world’s first live 3D Opera. Our digital cinema platform on IS-905 is well established for European HD and 3D cinema distribution while our integrated international network delivers the necessary global reach for a truly international sporting event.” David McIntosh director of digital cinema for Sony Europe said “Arqiva’s international infrastructure offers us the flexibility and reliability we need to bring this prestigious sporting event to appreciative audiences all around the world. They have proven expertise of successfully delivering major sporting events in 3D so we will be drawing extensively on their experience and knowledge to ensure that cinemas around the world can show the matches in the highest possible quality and with maximum confidence.  Sony's 3D broadcast experience combined with Arqiva's track record in 3D distribution and Sony Digital Cinema 4K projection of ‘easy on the eye’ superior 3D will ensure we bring the best 3D experience to fans in cinemas.” Daniel Webber managing director SuperVision Media said “Having worked with Arqiva on previous international events we are delighted that they will be providing the distribution elements of these important transmissions. With a huge anticipated take-up by cinemas spread right across the world it’s vital to have a technology partner who understands and can professionally handle all the regional variations in equipment and standards – Arqiva is that company.” Screenvision announced a new long-term agreement with Allen Theatres the largest theatre operator in the State of New Mexico.  As a result of the deal Screenvision broadens its presence throughout New Mexico and continues to have exclusive selling and exhibition rights in the Late Preshow. Headquartered in Las Cruces New Mexuco Allen Theatres operates 14 theatres and 95 screens in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe area.  Additional cities include Roswell Cortez and Carlsbad. 
“The extended partnership between Screenvision and Allen Theatres further illustrates that exhibitors continue to see the value that comes with partnering with Screenvision ” said Darryl Schaffer executive vice president operations and exhibitor relations Screenvision. “We are delighted to continue bringing unique entertainment to Allen Theatre’s with this extended agreement.” The cinema ad company Spotlight Cinema Networks announced that it has formed a dedicated exhibitor relations department.
The cinema advertising market has been very receptive to Spotlight since its launch last year.  Given this success we felt that this was the right time to launch an exhibitor relations department and bring aboard Ronnie Ycong as vice president ” said company president Jerry Rakfeldt. “Ronnie is one of the most experienced exhibitor relations executives in the U.S. and will lead the development of key niches to drive our growth.”
Prior to joining Spotlight Ycong was director of exhibitor relations at Screenvision where he was charged with maintaining and growing its exhibitor network. “I am excited about the opportunity with Spotlight and to work with a team focused on bringing a new approach to the cinema space ” said Ycong. 
      AMC Theatres unveiled AMC Stubs a new spend-based rewards program that will replace the company’s previous points-based MovieWatcher program which debuted in 1990 as the industry’s first-ever guest loyalty program. The program is designed to provide frequent moviegoers with more value as they earn rewards for every dollar spent at AMC Theatres nationwide. “AMC Stubs is unique in that it provides members with a choice of rewards which will be brought to life by three movie bloggers who we’ve invited to embark on the Search for Stubs Challenge ” said Stephen Colanero AMC’s chief marketing officer. “We’re excited to show how AMC Stubs will reward AMC’s most loyal and frequent moviegoers while giving them an opportunity to let their moviegoing experiences live online.” As part of the launch AMC officially kicked off the Search for Stubs Challenge inviting three prominent movie bloggers – Steve Weintraub of Collider Mike Eisenberg of Screen Rant and Wilson Morales of Black Film – to participate in a competition to visit the most AMC Theatres and see the most movies possible from April 15 - May 6. Each blogger will post everything from actual movie reviews to their theatre experience while also earning and randomly rewarding their followers and fellow moviegoers with all the aspects of the new AMC Stubs program. The name AMC Stubs plays off the classic paper movie ticket stub that guests collect to preserve long-lasting movie memories. Now each AMC Stubs member will have their own online AMC Stubs book that brings the paper ticket stub concept into the digital age by automatically populating a virtual movie ticket stub in members’ online AMC Stubs book for each movie they see. “This online stub functionality extends the movie experience into relevant social media by enabling members to tag friends and family they attended with rate the movie make comments and share them within the AMC Stubs member network or on their Facebook pages ” said Colanero. “This creates an online interactive movie experience never before seen with a theatre-industry loyalty program.” AMC Stubs is a paid program with an annual fee of $12. Every time guests spend $100 they receive a $10 AMC Stubs Reward which is good for anything in the theatre from tickets and concessions to gift cards and membership fee renewals. The enrollment fee goes toward the first reward as well. “If it’s in the theatre your AMC Stubs Rewards will cover it ” said Colanero. Barco announced that it is outfitting 81 screens in ShowPlex's theatres with the company's 2K DLP projectors. ShowPlex acquired 10 theater locations in Missouri Kansas Arkansas Oklahoma and Nebraska from former owner Dickinson Theatres in May 2010. This move establishes ShowPlex as an all-digital circuit. 

Barco and Cinedigm are providing full financing and VPF for ShowPlex's deployment as part of Cinedigm's turnkey Phase 2 deployment program while GDC Technology will supply cutting-edge digital cinema servers. “The opportunity to get the industry's best and brightest projectors with extremely attractive financing enables us to move forward with the conversion of our entire circuit. This allows us to rapidly establish the new ShowPlex brand as a high quality movie exhibitor ” commented Al Lane CEO of ShowPlex.” 

“As a brand new exhibitor looking to make an immediate impact ShowPlex has chosen to launch its business with the best combination of digital cinema quality and total cost of ownership in the industry. Al and the ShowPlex team bring deep cinema experience to this new venture and we are proud to partner with them as they create their new all-digital circuit ” commented Patrick Lee vice president digital cinema for Barco North America. 
 Barco also announced that in the first quarter of 2011 it received new orders for more than 1500 units in Greater China. To continue to meet this strong market demand the production capacity of Barco’s Beijing plant was increased from 200 to 500 digital cinema projectors per month. Barco also established a new digital cinema R&D centre in Beijing. New orders received in the first quarter of 2011 from many well-known theatres and theatre investment companies included new and existing customers such as China Film Group Corporation Pearl River Jinyi Lumière Pictures Stellar Film Investment Beijing Red Star Cinema Investment and Guangdong South China Film. Barco retains a digital cinema projector market share of over 65 percent in Greater China and over 80 percent in Hong Kong and Taiwan. “Barco performed extremely well in digital cinema in 2010 particularly in China ” said Wim Buyens senior vice president Entertainment at Barco. “Overall China has played a vital role in our global performance. Recent acquisitions will also support Barco's broader strategy to move up in the value chain from digital cinema projector supplier to provider of digital cinema visualization solutions. In the following years Barco will not only continue to be the technology leader in digital cinema projection but will also expand its product portfolio to include digital signage theatre management systems and more.” Cinedigm announced the signing of a long term VPF deployment agreement with Goodrich Quality Theateres that will provide for the digital conversion of 255 screens at 28 theaters. The rollout is expected to begin in April and be completed by the end of the year at which time all Goodrich Quality Theatres will be 100 percent digital. “Upgrading our theaters with state-of-the-art digital cinemas continues our tradition of delivering the best movie-going experience possible ” said Bob Goodrich CEO/owner.  “Cinedigm is a great partner and have worked with us to customize a deal that fits our specific needs for equipment and financing enabling us to continue to meet both our customers' expectations and our own operational goals.” Goodrich Quality Theaters is all about quality and it shows in their attention to detail in everything they do said Chuck Goldwater president media services group.  And because of that precision we are exceedingly proud that after evaluating all their options Goodrich Quality Theatres chose Cinedigm to entrust with their digital cinema future. Cinedigm also announced a successful deployment with Sun Theatres for the first Theatre Command Center installation in Melbourne Australia. This six-screen complex also marks the first successful integration with Qube Cinema in a fully networked and automated DCI 2K digital projection environment. “We converted to digital in mid 2009 but until now have still needed mediaologists to operate and monitor our daily screenings. As an independent cinema we want to provide the best experience for our loyal audience while seeking the efficiencies and operational benefits that Digital should deliver ” said Michael Smith owner Sun Theatre. “Cinedigm Qube and Venue Ticketing worked together collaboratively with our engineer and mediaologoist to ensure a smooth installation and commissioning. The system has run seamlessly over the last month and our staff love the ease of use and confidence in its reliability.” In other news Cinedigm announced long-term agreements with the Canadian Cinema Buying Group members and APCCQ (Association des proprietaires des Cinemas Cine-Parcs du Quebec) for the digital conversion of 106 Cinedigm-certified screens at 15 sites. Cinedigm enables this through their structuring and implementing the underlying VPF agreements for this conversion to digital cinema as well as providing the entire administration responsibility of the VPF program. We are thrilled to continue our leadership role in pioneering digital cinema in Quebec said Raffaele Papalia executive board member of APCCQ and president of Les Cinemas Cine Entreprise. After extensive due diligence and research we are extremely happy and confident in our decision and the APCCQ will now recommend to our membership Cinedigm as the best integration partner. This will permit our exhibitors to remain at the cutting edge of technology and to guarantee our continued contribution to the Quebec film success story. Setting aside the established 3D entertainment experience our audiences will benefit from flexibility offered by digital cinema including engaging alternative programming such as 2D and 3D concerts independent films and foreign films. We are exceedingly proud that this outstanding group of visionary exhibitors in Quebec has selected Cinedigm to be their digital cinema partner said Goldwater. With these new deals Cinedigm has now signed agreements with close to 60 CBG NATO exhibitors and more than 1400 of their screens. And we are especially delighted to be extending our geographic reach as Cinedigm continues to grow our business beyond the continental United States. And in still more Cinedigm news the company also announced a partnership with Contenido Alternativo to integrate a satellite platform for digital content distribution throughout Mexico Latin and South America. The partnership will facilitate the distribution of alternative content programming including live 2D and 3D sporting events and concerts as well as movie delivery into cinemas. We are very excited to continue our collaboration with Contenido Alternativo bringing the most innovative scalable and cost effective DCP delivery multi-cast Live 3D and terrestrial distribution solutions to additional international markets ” said Gerd Jakuszeit president of digital media services at Cinedigm.
Our partnership with Cinedigm will enable us to strengthen our leadership as digital content distributors in Mexico and expand it to the rest of Latin America contributing to the digital cinema conversion in the region ” said Juan Manuel Borbolla CEO of Contenido Alternativo. The Australian owned software services company Remasys announced that it has been selected by Hoyts to monitor all of its digital cinema systems corporate offices and trading websites.   As part of the continued roll out of converting its cinemas to digital projection Hoyts has engaged Remasys to provide monitoring for all of its 54 cinema complexes covering over 450 screens. The CIO of Hoyts Adam Wrightson said that the ability to monitor all of these systems would provide a better level of service to the business and to its customers. “Monitoring of our digital systems in our circuit and businesses is critically important to us in the new era of digital cinema. Remasys’ Eagle-i solution enables us to do this non-intrusively across a wide diversity of hardware and software platforms. It will enable us to be very responsive to systems issues and become increasingly predictive through the excellent analytical capabilities of Eagle-i”. Remasys CEO Sean Farrell said that Remasys was very pleased to have been selected by Hoyts and to be part of such a cutting edge cinema technology project in which Hoyts Australia was one of the industry leaders worldwide. “Hoyts’ digital strategy to provide digital cinema will provide a far superior experience to all of its Australian audiences. Our unique and patented ability to monitor all of these systems will provide more accurate and timely information to Hoyts and ultimately a better service to their customers. We are very excited to be a part of this project ” he said. PVR Cinemas India's leading cinema brand and operator of the country's top-performing multiplexes today announced an agreement to install digital IMAX theatre systems in four key locations throughout India. Under the terms of the sales deal which is subject to standard Indian regulatory approvals the first two systems are scheduled to be installed within the next 12 months at two of India's top-performing multiplexes in the cities of Mumbai and Bangalore. There is a growing appetite for premium entertainment in India and with the massive popularity of the IMAX brand worldwide it has become very clear to us that now is the ideal time for us to enter into the IMAX business said Ajay Bijli chairman of PVR. IMAX is one of the world's most recognized premium entertainment brands and it fits perfectly with our mission to offer our guests the ultimate in movie-going experiences. India has a vibrant movie-going culture and it is one of our most important and largely untapped growth markets said IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond. PVR Cinemas is a top-performing exhibitor with a very strong brand and we believe our association with them will raise the visibility of our own brand with consumers and of our business model with other exhibitors in the market. KIT digital's Brickbox division and XDC have partnered to become a global one-stop shop digital content services provider. Alan Christensen digital cinema director of KIT digital said Combining our initiatives was a natural step in evolving our aim to expand both our services further across the continent offering a pan European reach to international studios and local distributors alike. XDC has the most aggressive deployment roll out growth in Europe and by partnering with them we will have the opportunity to further expand the role of exhibition in digital cinema. Both organizations bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table and I look forward to building on innovative ideas developing new technologies and providing end-to-end solutions across all currently covered and future territories.” Alexandre Weiser content services sales director of XDC said This agreement is an important milestone for XDC content lab. It allows XDC to access markets where KIT digital is already present and inversely. By joining forces we will benefit from extensive experiences in the digital cinema home video TV and new media areas. Together we will be able to offer a full package of services to major Hollywood studios independent film producers and distributors movie sales agents and digital cinema alternative content producers right-owners and distributors globally.
 Cinema City International the third largest multiplex theatre operator in Europe announced that it has chosen MasterImage 3D as its new 3D cinema system supplier. CCI Group now has 866 screens in 90 multiplexes operating in seven territories: Poland Hungary Czech Republic Israel Romania and Bulgaria. The Group is continuing its expansion with 35 more multiplexes currently under development which will add 360 new screens. The entire CCI circuit is expected to be fully digital by 2013 with up to 60 percent of its screens supporting 3D. Moshe Greidinger CEO of the CCI Group said MasterImage 3D offers a high quality low maintenance system. Their single-use glasses eliminate the practice of having to wash and manage 3D glasses which makes life easier for us the cinema operators. We have tested thoroughly MasterImage systems and were very much convinced by its top quality. Cinema City International is a force in Central and Eastern Europe known as much for keeping the ethos of a family-owned company as they are for their success and size said Brian Kercher managing director of 3D Cinema Europe for MasterImage 3D. They have a strong team of cinema engineers who understand the needs of exhibitors and we are really pleased that our systems and approach have earned their respect and business. We look forward to a long relationship with CCI and its theatres. The Digital Funding Partnership a limited liability partnership representing over 120 independent exhibitors and some 400 screens in the UK has agreed to contract with XDC. XDC's VPF funding scheme will facilitate the deployment of digital cinema systems with all DFP members.

Steve Perrin chief executive of the DFP said XDC offered us an extremely competitive VPF financing solution and were very receptive to the individual needs of our members offering them the widest possible choice of systems and complete freedom of choice of local integrator. Now the priority is to start the deployment as soon as possible and we have agreed an aggressive schedule of 100 systems in the first six months.” David Pope XDC's director of operations for the UK and IR said The mission of the DFP is to make sure that no one gets left behind in the switch over to digital cinema and the UK's rich heritage of small independent cinemas will be preserved thanks to this scheme. I would like to make a special thank you to our integrator partners who have been especially supportive in our bid to win the DFP contract. Under the terms of the agreement with XDC the DFP will have Series 2 DCI-compliant digital projection systems installed into the member exhibitor complexes currently estimated at totaling over 400 screens. A content delivery network will also be implemented by XDC in order to allow distributors to deliver films directly by satellite and/or broadband connection to the cinemas as well as giving the opportunity to receive live 2D and 3D transmissions. GDC Technology announced the signing of a digital cinema deployment contract with Zhe Jiang Time Cinema. The contract is a repeat order which involves the deployment of 200 units of GDC SX-2000A Digital Cinema Server with Integrated Media Block by the end of 2011. Zhe Jiang Time Cinema World was founded in 2003 and spearheaded the establishment of a provincial-wide cinema circuit under the banner of Zhe Jiang Time Cinema. “The close partnership between GDC and Zhe Jiang Time Cinema was established in 2005. We have chosen GDC SX-2000A Digital Cinema Server with IMB for its superior 3D screening quality support for 4K resolution and in addition its added advantage of being awarded industry’s first FIPS Level 3 Certification meeting DCI security requirements ” said Qian Da Jun general manager of Zhe Jiang Time Cinema. “To invest further in digital cinema to fulfill our expansion needs we have decided to deploy another 200 units of GDC server. This will help us maintain our leading position in Zhe Jiang and expand early into other important up-and-coming cities within the province while continue providing our customers with the highest quality cinematic experience.” “We truly appreciate that Zhe Jiang Time Cinema has chosen GDC again as its server provider. It gives us great honor to be involved in Zhe Jiang Time Cinema’s expansion program and we promise to continue the close partnership to grow our business together ” said Dr. Man-Nang Chong founder and CEO of GDC Technology. “GDC has earned its reputation on the basis of quality products reliable services and most importantly continuous product innovations. We are encouraged by our success in Zhe Jiang province and feel optimistic to continue our success as we expand into other provinces in China.” Technology Sony Corporation announced that its digital cinema 4K projection systems are the industry’s first to successfully complete the full range of compliance tests for specifications required by Digital Cinema Initiatives. Both the SRX-R220/LMT-200 and SRX-320/LMT-300 integrated systems including projector and media block have passed all DCI compliance tests and are listed on the DCI web site. Sony was accredited under the DCI specification for its “integrated projection systems.” These systems are based on the Sony 4K projector that can present ultra-high-resolution images and a server that can securely store digital cinema content and transfer it to the projector. Each of the Sony systems were certified as “a working system that can be fully deployed in theatres ” according to DCI. Research Institute for Digital Media and Content Keio University Japan which is qualified by DCI for compliance testing conducted the DCI compliance tests for Sony’s systems. The compliance test consists of two parts a procedural test to confirm if the devices work exactly as prescribed by the DCI Specification and a design evaluation to examine if their security design meets the requirements of the DCI Specification.   Dolby Laboratories showcased a comprehensive set of new products “Dolby is excited to announce new products across our full line of 3D and digital cinema solutions. In addition to previewing our new 4K-compatible server we will feature our new low-cost 3D glasses in both adult and children’s sizes ” said Matt Cuson senior marketing director cinema Dolby Laboratories. “As we have done in years past Dolby will continue to innovate and develop solutions that deliver on the premium entertainment experience people have come to expect from us.” Dolby featured its upcoming Dolby Screen Server which has been optimized to work exclusively with a 2K/4K Integrated Media Block. The DSS220 significantly reduces the cost and size of the server chassis while providing the same reliable performance as the market-proven DSS200. Expected to be available later this year features and key benefits of the DSS220 server include: Compact form factor: the 2U 17.7-inch (50 cm) deep chassis fits easily in shallow racks projector pedestals or equipment rooms. In addition Dolby will soon release a software maintenance update to its Digital Cinema System Software v.4.3 which improves on Dolby’s Web Services API to support Theatre Management Software and integration partners incorporating Dolby servers into their solutions. The new software is expected to be available in April. New features of the DCSS v.4.3 include: Automation of the playback mode based on the property of the current selection replacing the need to manually switch from 2D to 3D. Support for both Series 1 and Series 2 dual projector 3D installations. Dolby Show Store and Screen Server and Dolby Show Library are now updated using a single disk image. With over 8 000 Dolby Screen Servers shipped since April 2005 Dolby has played an instrumental role in driving the convergence of digital cinema around the world. In other news Dolby announced that recently the major China-based cinema company Dadi Media Group ordered 600 Dolby Digital Cinema systems. The orders include 600 Dolby Screen Servers (DSS200s) and 600 Dolby CP750 Digital Cinema Processors. Dadi plans to have these digital cinema systems installed by the end of 2011. Dolby also announced its next-generation Dolby 3D glasses which are high-performance stylish reusable 3D glasses that are now available to exhibitors at a list price of twelve dollars or lower when purchased with a Dolby 3D bundle. Finally Dolby announced that currently over 1 300 global installations of Dolby Surround 7.1 have been conducted since the technology launched in June 2010. Dolby Surround 7.1 has been used by major studios including 20th Century Fox DreamWorks Animation Paramount Pictures Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The following upcoming films feature Dolby Surround Sound 7.1: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures’ Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides May 20 2011 DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2 May 26 2011 Disney/Pixar's Cars 2 June 24 2011 Paramount Pictures’ Transformers: Dark of the Moon July 1 2011 Dolby Surround 7.1 continues to have international adoption recently being released with Lord of Dance 3D in the United States United Kingdom and Ireland. In addition RS Entertainment will release Rohan Sippy’s Dum Maaro Dum on April 22 in India and the United States with Dolby Surround 7.1. In Spain a theatrical mix of Torrente 4 was conducted in Dolby Surround 7.1. Sonic Equipment Company and Christie announced the continuing rollout of digital cinema conversions using Christie’s CP2210 digital cinema projector. The first conversion using the CP2210 will be a single screen project in Edwardsville Illinois.  Sonic has also chosen the new smaller size projector for upcoming conversions in April in Wisconsin and Missouri where smaller auditoriums make the systems more economical. 
   “Since we launched the Christie SolariaT series exhibitor acceptance has been phenomenal and we’re pleased to be the projector-of-choice for our valued partner Sonic Equipment Company ” said Craig Sholder vice president entertainment solutions at Christie. 
   “The Christie 2210 features a dual power connection to help protect the electronics and ensure a smooth recovery in power failure situations.  Another advantage with this projector is it does not require an external exhaust system while it delivers optimum ‘in warranty’ hours for its bulbs ” said Mike Covey production manager at Sonic Equipment.  Jonathan Thompson senior sales manager at Sonic added “This projector is a great solution for the smaller screen markets which are the pride of Sonic’s customer base.” 
  Sonic has recently converted the Village 8 Cinemas in Dodge City Kansas to digital cinema using the GDC Integrated Media Block and SX-2000 server.  The conversion is the first for Sonic using this server technology. The Village 8 is also B&B Theatres first theatre equipped with GDC’s newest product. 
 “We are delighted to say that we have forged a reliable and synergistic partnership with Sonic whose expertise and relentless efforts have yielded mutually beneficial and measurable results in the U.S. ” said Man-Nang Chong. “GDC’s continuous technological innovations including our state of the art IMB technology and our unbending commitment to deliver the highest caliber products in the industry have won us many fans worldwide.  It is an honor to be entrusted by such a visionary company as B&B Theatres in the continued roll-out of their digital cinema conversions.” 
 “Sonic has been at the forefront of the digital wave since its inception.  We chose the IMB model for the Dodge City conversion because Sonic is going to stay ahead in the industry and the IMB is a step in that direction ” said Mike Covey production director at Sonic Equipment Company.  “By looking ahead to the future of cinema Sonic was able to step in and help independent exhibitors convert their cinemas at the beginning of the digital cinema wave when many thought the independents would have to wait.  Since 2009 Sonic has fully converted 40 locations including a few new theatre projects.  Outside of those numbers are several partially converted locations with plans to fully convert in the future.”
 Doremi Cinema said it is poised to release the software needed to meet the rigorous demands of the Compliance Test Plan.  Passing the CTP is required for all digital cinema equipment to become DCI Compliant. The soon to be released software will meet all requirements of DCI Specification Version 1.2. In addition to providing all logging requirements necessary for VPF deployments the software will also provide the additional Doremi benefits like the CaptiView closed captioning software and server generated 2D and 3D subtitles.   “Our number one goal has been to pass the CTP with our IMB/ShowVault product.  This release affords us all the requirements necessary to pass the CTP and achieve DCI compliance ” said Michael Archer vice president digital cinema.   Pilat Media Global announced the launch of TrafficCentral a new traffic management console for the company's Integrated Broadcast Management System. IBMS TrafficCentral provides a single point of control from which to drive end-to-end traffic functions for complex broadcasting operations that encompass large numbers of channels or networks spanning many regions. For today's large multichannel and multiregional broadcast operations traffic can be one of the most complex functions to manage effectively. To support hundreds of channels or networks across a large number of regions requires hundreds or even thousands of playlist variants combining national and regional programming and national and local advertising. Manual data entry and monitoring is no longer feasible given the large number of actions required said Bob Lamb chief technical officer of Pilat Media. Through such features as power actions mass-processing visual indicators and exception-based user intervention IBMS TrafficCentral directly targets the challenges of massive centralized multichannel and multiplatform operations — providing a centralized console with which to analyze and act on services and advertising performance. Barco featured its DCI-compliant DP4K-32B the same projector that was the first to project 4K onto an 80-ft screen the first to surpass the image quality of 15/70mm film presentation in a side-by-side comparison and the first to present numerous 3D technologies in a single venue. Leveraging its technology leadership to move beyond the projector system Barco also exhibited its latest offerings for optimizing theatre enterprise management encompassing a wide array of products and support services designed to enhance cinema operations and customers' movie-going experience. 

With the acquisition of dZine last summer Barco offers customers the benefits of a “one stop” solution for their entire digital signage needs. This new venture brings Barco's theatre know-how and dZine's content creation and management software expertise together under one roof to create high-impact visualization solutions tailored for the cinema market for both indoor and outdoor applications.  In other news Barco has added two new classes Projector Operations and Basic Troubleshooting and Theatre Systems Integration to augment its existing curriculum of installation operations and service training programs. The first is an introduction for individuals new to digital cinema explaining the technology behind 2D and 3D digital cinema and basic operations. The new Theatre Systems Integration” class is a Barco-exclusive providing in-depth instruction encompassing the entire digital cinema workflow with a focus on hands-on participation and the importance of computer networking in the digital cinema domain. Previews of these classes as well as an overview on maximizing digital cinema ROI will be offered at the show. Barco also announced that it is continuing to boost its customer service and Network Operations Center services to maximize projector system uptime ensure enhanced image quality and brightness and promote ease-of-use for its customers. Customers that select Barco's customer service plans receive 24/7 call center support; dedicated phone support from certified Barco Service Engineers; and installation service and maintenance support from the most highly trained teams in the industry. NOC subscribers also enjoy proactive perpetual monitoring and servicing of their entire digital cinema network including remote network analysis 24/7 site schedule with content verification and enhanced real-time network snapshots.  “Barco's 4K projectors are the latest innovation in projector technology and represent the evolution of an exciting path in digital cinema. However our DCI-compliant 2K projectors continue to remain the workhorse models for the majority of exhibitors and are readily available ” said Todd Hoddick vice president entertainment for Barco North America. 

“We are very proud of Barco's outstanding reputation for industry-leading digital cinema projectors especially in light of our recent Guinness World Record for brightness. We are eager to address the full realm of exhibitors' needs taking our digital cinema expertise to the next level as we provide content-rich digital signage solutions and additional training and technical support to optimize our customer's bottom line ” he said.
 Finally Barco announced the commercial launch of its new range of 4K cinema projectors including the DP4K-32B (for screens up to 32 meters) and the DP4K-23B (screens up to 23 meters). In addition Barco reported that its Enhanced 4K DP4K-32B projector has obtained DCI certification and that the DP4K-23B will finalize DCI certification soon. The DP4K series share the same modular platform as Barco's DP2K line enabling customers to easily swap spare parts and keep learning curves short. Moreover with its patented cooling system the DP4K-series has the coolest 4K engine in the world. “The new Barco DP4K-series projectors provide premium image quality for premium movie experiences ” said Buyens. “These two models are an important addition to our existing range of high-quality digital cinema projectors. The DCI-compliance of the 4K models unique in the market at the moment means that we have the most complete line of DCI compliant projectors. The many benefits our digital cinema projectors including spectacular brightness and lowest TCO allow movie theaters to constantly improve their standards while saving money.” Harkness Screens announced that its Digital Screen Selector application has passed the 500-user threshold.

Officially launched at ShoWest 2010 the Digital Screen Selector is intended as an aid to theatre operators seeking to optimise their investment in digital cinema by helping to reduce operating costs for 2D as well as optimise light levels for both 2D and 3D.
  “We are delighted that our Digital Screen Selector has become such a popular aid to customers since its debut last year ” said Andrew Robinson managing director of Harkness Screens.  “We created the Selector to identify cost-effective solutions for digital cinema conversion and encourage theatre operators throughout the world to utilize the wonderful insights the application provides.”
By answering a few quick questions about the screen size and equipment being used in a particular theatre the Selector suggests Harkness screen options to optimize performance and cost. Available through the Harkness Web site the Digital Screen Selector features a user-friendly interface with no software download required and uses industry-accepted standards and vendor data to compare different operating scenarios.  The Selector is intended to be a guide for theatre operators when consulting with projector lamp and 3D technology providers.
In addition to its 500 registered users the Selector has had over 2 000 non-registered visitors use the application. “We are committed to the trend in digital cinema and will continue to develop our products to optimize this application ” Robinson said.
 THX announced that it has certified five new cinema and studio partners around the world. 
The State Kremlin Palace Moscow; Labodigital Screening Room Mexico City; the Indiana University Cinema Bloomington Indiana; Cinemark theaters in Brazil and Kitag Cinemas in Switzerland have all have met THX’s exacting standards for architectural design acoustics sound isolation and audio/visual performance. These new partners join a rapidly growing list of more than 2000 THX certified global cinemas and studios. Marchon3D and UltraStar Cinemas have teamed up to create the first in-theater self-service vending machine for Marchon3D’s patented 3D glasses. Marchon3D has created a custom vending machine. Beginning in the summer 2011 – just in time for the summer blockbuster season – 3D movie-goers in San Diego will be able to purchase the newly released line of EX3D glasses with patented M3D lens technology in the UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas. “This is the first time we’ll be offering our EX3D glasses for sale in theatres and the first time we’ve ever built a self-service installation like this. 3D has become so pervasive in our culture and 3D theaters are the most popular venue where we consume 3D content – having our glasses in-theater with a reputable partner such as UltraStar Cinemas makes perfect sense ” said David Johnson president Marchon3D. “Today’s consumer has a vast digital footprint using more digital devices than ever before. Marchon3D glasses are designed to easily move them through the 3D component of their digital life. The EX3D glasses delivered in this vending machine can be used across all passive 3D platforms including movies video games 3D televisions and laptop computers and they offer a mix of style comfort and affordability.” Movie fans can choose from adult tween and children’s sizes in a variety of trendy colors and fashionable shapes. Marchon3D will also offer smart solutions for prescription glasses wearers including clip-on lenses that easily work on any prescription frame as well as frames that comfortably fit over the entire prescription frame. Prices will range from $25-$80. We want to provide the best possible 3D movie experience to our customers and there is no better way to do that than to offer best-in-class and best-in-value 3D glasses from Marchon3D said Damon Rubio vice president of operations for UltraStar Cinemas. With well over 40 3D movies coming out within the next year it makes sense to invest in a comfortable well designed pair of glasses that will deliver a top-notch movie viewing experience.” The test in the San Diego theatres is slated to begin in June and last three months. Marchon3D plans to roll out additional vending machines in other markets in the upcoming months. “Marchon3D is the first company to really take a 360 degree look at today’s consumer and think about what they want in a pair of 3D glasses ” said Hannah Sarbin vice president of new business development Marchon. “They want an exceptional 3D experience from a technical standpoint and they want something that fits their lifestyle and personality. They don’t want the same old black frames and flat lenses that come with the cost of a movie ticket. Studios and manufacturers spend hundreds of millions of dollars pushing the boundaries of 3D technology why settle for the generic 3D glasses for that experience?“ French 3D glasses designer Volfoni showed their next generation of 3D glasses designed with the movie theatre in mind: Edge 1.2. “We guarantee theatre owners top-quality service and a staff dedicated to their every need. Today we are proud to launch a new model that is completely devoted to the theater owner ” says Thierry Henkinet CEO of Volfoni.

Edge 1.2 3D glasses are equipped with RF technology that works as an anti-theft system. Thanks to this innovation theatre owners are guaranteed the utmost security for their 3D glasses. Edge 1.2 glasses do not require anti-theft security gates at the exits of screening rooms allowing a significant reduction in set-up costs. Added features include a new surface coating for the glasses as well as adaptable arms to provide a comfortable fit for all head shapes. Qube Cinema was showing the new Qube Xi 4K a high-speed redundant Gigabit Ethernet-based system which will allow exhibitors to place their storage servers anywhere within or even outside the theater complex. Besides saving valuable square footage Qube’s new system will allow for whole new theatre designs making boothless projection a practical reality. The Qube Xi 4K is designed to work with any digital projection systems that support an IMB. The Qube Xi 4K uses redundant Gigabit Ethernet to connect to the server decrypting and decoding content in real time. With this system all of the exhibitor’s server storage can be located in a secured central room. The Qube Xi 4K technology overcomes the significant restrictions of PCI Express-based IMBs so there are no practical limitations of distance and no potential shielding issues. “Instead of loading up projection rooms with more and more complicated electronics we are streamlining and simplifying the setup ” said Rajesh Ramachandran CTO of Qube Cinema. “Exhibitors have much more flexibility in how they use their space and how they manage their operations. The Qube Xi 4K is the smart way to do Digital Cinema.” The new Qube Cinema system also opens the door to powerful centralized storage options. “This is where theater owners can start realizing the benefits of Digital Cinema instead of just the hassles ” explained Ramachandran. “With a QubeShare central cinema storage solution exhibitors will be able to change content on the fly such as adding a new theater when ticket sales for a film exceed expectations or moving a showing to a different screen.” The Qube Xi 4K supports HD 2K 4K and stereoscopic 3D content in a wide variety of DCI-compliant formats. GDC Technology announced enhancements for its SX-2000 Digital Cinema Server with Integrated Media Block. There are currently more than 8 000 GDC digital cinema servers in operation worldwide.   “Perfecting our Integrated Media Block was not an easy task ” said Man-Nang Chong. “Being the first in the industry to receive the FIPS 140-2 Level 3 security certificate demonstrates GDC’s deep understanding in the design of digital cinema servers and our commitment to the industry.” Meyer Sound was showing its EXP series of cinema sound systems. “With digital cinema presentation of picture and sound cinema audiences can finally enjoy the full impact and detail as intended by the filmmakers. Now cinema exhibitors need the powerful low-distortion loudspeakers to complete the experience ” said Steve Shurtz technology director EXP.

The EXP line of cinema loudspeakers includes the Acheron 80 100 and Studio loudspeakers the HMS-10 surround loudspeaker as well as the Acheron LF low frequency screen channel loudspeaker X-800C cinema subwoofer and Galileo loudspeaker management system. MikroM unveiled its new 4K/2K Integrated Media Block for Series 2 projectors. The new product called MVC201 comprises state-of-the-art features including DCP playback of 4K/2K as well as 2D/3D content 3D processing subtitle rendering in 2D and 3D and a comprehensive Application Programming Interface for control by external servers. “With our 4K/2K IMB we have realized the highest level of integration that serves as a powerful hardware platform for our valuable OEM partners allowing them to differentiate and to address today’s and future market requirements just by software update ” said Holger Krahn CEO of MikroM.