French Chain Starts to Go Digital

"The first fully digital multiplex has opened in France, where the groundbreaking D-cinema deal between Gallic exhib chain Circuit George Raymond and Arts Alliance Media, Europe’s leading digital cinema distribution outfit, is moving forward at a great pace. CGR’s 12-screen flagship multiplex in La Rochelle went 100% digital this month and London-based AAM promises 100 screens on the CGR circuit will be converted to digital by July.

This is the first stage in the rollout of AAM’s digital makeover of all CGR’s 400 screens. Under the deal, AAM procure, service and maintain all digital systems for CGR, France’s third-biggest chain, which specializes in multiplexes in midsize towns.

“La Rochelle is a benchmark for the digital cinema transition in France and in Europe. Thanks to CGR, the French cinema industry has now a great opportunity to witness and understand the operations of a fully digital cinema,” commented Gwendal Auffret, AAM’s managing director of digital cinema.

"This will open new perspectives to our group in terms of 3-D and alternative content, as well as faster and more flexible programming and increased efficiency,” enthused Jocelyn Bouyssy, CEO, CGR Cinemas.

When the two companies pacted last November, it was the first time AAM had done a virtual print fee deal with an exhibitor. AAM has signed digital cinema deployment agreements with five studios: 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures Intl., Paramount Pictures Intl., Sony Pictures Releasing Intl. and Walt Disney Studios Intl.

AAM is in active negotiations for further deployment agreements with other distribs and exhibs and announcements are expected shortly. Firm is also increasingly focusing on sourcing, managing and promoting alternative content for cinemas."

By Archie Thomas, Variety