European Circuits Increase Provision of 3D Systems

European digital film distribution and d-cinema deployment entity, Arts Alliance Media (AAM), has agreed a deal to equip 18 screens in 18 different cinema sites for one of Spain's largest cinema operators Yelmo Cines, comprising basic digital, 3D and satellite equipment. The deal is an extension of a previous agreement with Yelmo to convert an all digital multiplex with five screens in Madrid in 2008. The equipment will comprise Christie projectors and Doremi servers and while there is no mention about the type of 3D equipment that will be installed, previously Yelmo has used active glasses technology marketed by XpanD.

Separately, Irish Multiplex Cinemas (IMC) has agreed to equip 14 screens with 3D equipment from RealD spread evenly across each of its theatres. Deployment will begin immediately so the 3D systems are in place for the release of the first major 3D blockbuster of 2009, Dreamworks Animation's Monsters vs Aliens at end of March. IMC has now allocated one third of its total 43 screens (including new opening in Thurles) to 3D, which is at the higher end of exhibitor targets.

Our take...
Deployment of 3D systems across several venues, is now an exhibitor priority in order to benefit from a now imminent line up of high profile 3-D releases this year. It is now widely recognised that 3D's superior revenue and attendance record is a major value-added application of digital for exhibitors. While there is also an operational (and slight financial advantage) from complete multiplex conversions, this is not always seen as a priority given the more immediate rewards that can be extracted from 3D.

Yelmo will proceed with support from a third party facilitator (through its previous experience of working AAM) rather than instigate deployment independently, as is the trend particularly in the UK (Odeon, Vue, Cineworld). The deal is a small, but potentially important step, towards achieving complete digitisation of a major circuit in Spain. The deal is also the second, smaller scale agreement in as many months for AAM, following signing of Dutch consortium Amsterdam Booking Company B.V.

By Charlotte Jones, ScreenDigest