Arts Alliance Secures Funding Boost

Arts Alliance Media, Europe’s leading digital cinema outfit, announced Wednesday that it has secured $55.8 million (Euros 43 million) of funding from financial services firm Econocom and private investors. In addition to the hefty cash injection, London-based AAM has signed a longterm strategic partnership with Arqiva Satellite and Media.

The two pacts further energize AAM as it leads the charge to convert Euro theaters to digital. Deals pave the way for more Euro auds to be able to enjoy the 13 3-D movies skedded for theatrical release in 2009, including Monsters vs. Aliens and Avatar.

Speaking of his “delight” at being able to announce the deal “especially in today’s challenging economy climate,” Howard Kiedaisch, CEO, AAM, commented, “The significant investments strengthen us to forge ahead with building the largest digital cinema delivery network in Europe, to which we can deliver digital content — films, alternative programming and live events.”

Under the funding deal, Econocom Financial Services will provide $26 million for the purchase of equipment to complete the ongoing digitalization of France’s trailblazing Circuit George Raymond cinema circuit. Via its virtual print fee-based rollout agreement with AAM, CGR has installed 126 d-screens to date and it is aiming to complete the digital makeover of all 400 of its screens by spring 2009.

The additional $29.8 million in funding has been raised from private investors and will fund AAM as it attempts to build its infrastructure, continue its d-cinema deployment biz and develop new rev streams. To Kiedaisch, the funding package “demonstrates that there are deals to be had if you have a sound business model.”

AAM’s formal partnership with Arqiva — they have co-operated on projects previously — sets out an action plan for the development of a content delivery platform and network for film distribution via secure satellite, something already successfully tested: in October the duo distributed the Palme d'Or winning pic Entre Les Murs, to CGR Cinema's megaplex site Bordeaux, France.

“Satellite transmission of films to cinemas is the future of film distribution and exhibition and our extensive international satellite infrastructure together with AAM’s proven digital cinema expertise is a strong proposition for European cinema exhibition and distribution,” enthused Barrie Woolston, commercial director, Arqiva Satellite and Media.

AAM and Arqiva have been working together recently on the live HD transmissions of opera and ballet performances from London’s Royal Opera House.

By Archie Thomas, Variety