October 22, 2008
Digital Cinema Deployment Agreements

By Gary Reber

At my visit to Sony Pictures on their lot in Culver City, California for a ShoEast 2009 Preview, hosted by Sony Corp’s digital cinema groups, Sony showcased a single-projector solution to 3-D exhibition. This was a progress update on Sony’s 4K digital cinema project and new R&D laboratory.

During the presentations Sony Electronics’ Digital Cinema Solutions and Services (DCSS) group announced a separate non-exclusive digital cinema deployment agreement with Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The DCSS group was formed to provide turnkey solutions for exhibitors that will enable them to efficiently convert their operations to digital technology.

This is a separate agreement from that announced by five other studios supporting digital cinema financing for a consortium of major theatre chains known as Digital Cinema Implementation Partners (DCIP). The studios involved are The Walt Disney Co., Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox, General Electric Co.'s Universal Pictures, and Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.

Today’s agreements relate to supplying exhibitors with feature motion pictures in digital form in order to promote the use of digital cinema projection systems. The new agreements will provide certain operational and financial resources to encourage exhibitors to implement digital cinema systems that will feature Sony’s DCI-compliant 4K SXRD™ projection technology. In addition to digital projection system deployment, Sony’s DCSS group said that it will be in a position to offer critical services for exhibitors such as installation and maintenance, along with customized solutions and high-level service support, which can all be provided by a turnkey Sony DCSS solution.

Unlike the DCIP agreement, which is limited to the U.S. and Canada, the separate agreements vary among the companies and extend to digital cinema efforts in certain countries in North America, Europe, and Asia.

In a joint statement, Bruce Snyder, president of domestic distribution of Twentieth Century Fox and Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus, co-presidents of Twentieth Century Fox International said, “Fox is committed to supporting the highest-quality solutions for exhibitors as they make their transition to digital cinema on a global basis. It is important that exhibitors worldwide have the widest choice of solutions available to them. By working with Sony and its range of available technology, experience, and stability, our goal is to continue to make the transition to DCI-compliant digital projection systems as smooth as possible. We’re proud to be working with Sony DCSS to further advance digital cinema on a global level.”

Jim Tharp, Paramount Pictures President of Domestic Theatrical Distribution added: “Paramount is committed to maximizing new, creative opportunities to encourage the conversion to digital projection and to broadening the availability of high quality 3-D cinema. Our collaboration with Sony’s DCSS team is a great step toward that end.  We look forward to continued cooperation in the future.”

According to Jeff Blake, Chairman, Worldwide Marketing and Distribution for Sony Pictures Entertainment, “As digital cinema programming becomes more prevalent in the marketplace, consumers will experience entertainment in bold and exciting new ways with superior state-of-the-art sound and picture quality, as well as the deployment of alternative forms of content.”

“We’re excited to be working with Fox, Paramount, and Sony Pictures to further facilitate the motion picture industry’s global digital transition,” said Mike Fidler, Senior Vice President of Sony’s Digital Cinema Solutions and Services group. “These studios understand the value of 4K technology along with providing an integrated range of services to exhibitors—from equipment installation, maintenance and alternative programming to security, digital signage, and advertising. A successful digital cinema business model requires a one-stop shopping approach that only Sony can provide, allowing exhibitors to maximize the benefits of the digital transition and to deliver an experience to the consumer that is beyond HD.”

Wow! Just within a week’s time two major announcements that bolster the nation’s Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI). As I stated previously, this is great news for theatrical exhibitors and moviegoers, because it will mean an overall performance improvement and the capability to show 3-D feature movies.

Eventually, the single-projector digital solution that Sony unveiled today will become the standard for performance home theatres. This is the direction that projector manufacturers are headed, and we enthusiasts can look forward to an exciting home theatre experience future. And that future’s delivery source will be Blu-ray Disc.

In future articles in Widescreen Review, I will make recommendations on how to lay out your room and system to optimize this potential.

You can find a series of articles recently published in Widescreen Review on the technologies competing to become the home 3-D standard. My personal bet is on SENSIO. Look for an article on SENSIO in the December issue.

Gary Reber
Editor-In-Chief & Publisher
Widescreen Review

Tags: - editor's couch - - Sony Pictures - - digital cinema - - 3D - - SXRD - - SENSIO -