Market Watch

First Australian Circuit Chooses Digital Cinema Path



Australian cinema and entertainment group Hoyts has become the first Australian and New Zealand circuit to announce its planned digital cinema rollout, including equipment choices. Hoyts Cinemas has chosen to use projectors from Christie's Series 2 Solaria range (its supplier of 35mm projectors) across its 400 screens in two territories (38 in Australia and 11 in New Zealand), including the 4K option in some cases, the chip for which is being delivered to TI licensees now for in-cinema installtion in 1Q 2011. Doremi's DCP 2000 servers make up the basic hardware package. The Theatre Management System (TMS) selected is that developed and offered by Arts Alliance Media. Hoyts is digitising as part of a wider grouping, known as Digital Cinema Implementation Partners - Australia (DCIP-A), mirroring the buying group process begun in the USA by Cinemark, AMC and Regal. The installation will begin immediately and is scheduled to end in 2013.

Analysis

This is a significant deal in several ways. Most notably, this is the first Australian/NZ circuit to go digital, and one that issues from the buying group approach that the largest circuits in Australia have opted for. There are no third parties working publicly in Australia, and this is mainly because the lead exhibitors chose to negotiate directly with the US studios, signing a number of VPF deals to date. The second aspect of note is the TMS choice. The fact that DCIP-A did their own Virtual Print Fee deals means that each circuit can make its own choice of not only equipment but also, and unusually, of the TMS. This aspect of digitisation is often bundled in by the third-party facilitator or integrator, but in this case, Hoyts undertook a thorough process of review before choosing AAM's, making it an interesting test case.
 
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