Digital Deals Boost 3D

Warner Bros. and Overture Films have inked virtual print fee deals with digital cinema leader Cinedigm in the hopes of accelerating the installation of more 3D screens. Cinedigm announced the deals as theater owners and distributors gather this week in Orlando, Fla., for exhib confab ShowEast.

Exhibs must be digitally equipped in order to screen 3D films, and Overture and other distribs will help subsidize the cost of digital screen conversions with their virtual print fees. The deployment of 3D screens has dominated the discussion at the tradeshow for the past two years, and this year isn't likely to be much different. Cinedigm's deal with Warners and Overture covers as many as 10,000 additional d-cinema projection systems in the U.S. and Canada.

For several years, theater owners and Hollywood studios, as well as indie distribs, were at an impasse over how much distribs should pay in digital print fees. That has changed dramatically in the last year, although Warners has taken longer than other studios to strike deals. Because of the upcharge for 3D tickets, 3D titles are seeing bountiful returns, promoting exhibs to risk the investment.

By Pamela McClintock, Variety