Japanese Firms to Introduce Digital Screens at Cinemas

Toho Cinemas Ltd and Kadokawa Cineplex Inc announced that they will introduce new systems to deliver and show movies in digital format (digital cinema systems) in earnest from 2009. Both companies aim to replace all screens at their cinemas with the new systems by spring 2012.

Toho Cinemas will install the digital cinema systems at 47 cinemas run by the company by fall 2009 and at all of its cinemas, excluding some jointly run with its partners, by spring 2012. All of the digital cinema systems to be employed will support three-dimensional (3D) video. As for the content delivery technologies, they will support the next-generation optical fiber network (NGN), satellite communications and recording media such as HDDs.

On the other hand, Kadokawa Cineplex will introduce digital cinema systems to 19 screens at seven of its cinemas by summer 2009. And it aims to replace all screens at its cinemas with digital screens by spring 2012. All of the digital screens will support 3D video.

For content delivery, NTT Smartconnect Corp's digital cinema delivery service Pure Cinema will be used. The service delivers movies via a highly secure NGN by connecting NTT Smartconnect's data center and the cinemas equipped with digital cinema systems. It also supports content delivery methods using HDDs and other recording media.

Toho Cinemas and Kadokawa Cineplex decided to adopt digital cinema systems in light of the rapid digitalization in the US movie industry, the emergence of digital content including 3D video and the shift to terrestrial digital TV broadcasts, they said.

The two companies said that, with the introduction of the new systems, they can offer high quality video that does not deteriorate, provide new content such as theatrical plays, concerts and 3D videos, enhance prevention measures against the illegal filming of movies by introducing a digital watermark system and boost the management efficiency of cinemas.

By Yukiko Kanoh, Nikkei Electronics