Following several recent deals with major circuits, the Spanish market is now priming itself for major digital conversion. Yelmo Cines, the third largest exhibitor in Spain has reached an agreement with European d-cinema facilitator Arts Alliance Media to equip its entire screen estate with high-end digital technology. The deal for all 370 screens will begin immediately and marks the largest d-cinema deployment agreement in the Spanish market to date. This excludes the digital plans of Cinesa, the Spanish arm of the pan-European circuit, Odeon UCI, which will manage its digital transition independently. As part of its digital strategy, Yelmo intends to outfit all screens for 3D purposes, taking it well beyond its recent target of 200 screens or over 50% of screens allocated to 3D, through a recent deal struck with RealD just a few months prior.
For Arts Alliance Media, the conclusion of the deal follows two years of working with Yelmo on more limited test roll-outs and most recently in July, the opening of a Spanish office to more closely serve its Spanish/Portuguese clients.
The deal is only the second complete circuit wide deal in Spain after fellow d-cinema integrator Ymagis recently concluded a deal with Spanish circuit Ocine, part of the leading Area Catalana d'Exhibicio Cinematografica (ACEC) chain. Under that deal all OCine's 15 theatres with 134 screens will be upgraded by 2012.
Yelmo's target of 100 per cent 3D capability is arguably the most bullish in the industry to date, with other major circuits in Europe and US so far committing to up to a maximum 50 per cent 3D to 2D screen ratio. The only other circuit to also anticipate all 3D screens is Apollo Cinemas in the UK.
A total of 375 screens were already upgraded to digital technology in Spain at H1 2010, equivalent to nine per cent of total screens, of which 3D accounted for 86 per cent of those deployments. Spain currently ranks considerably lower in its digital penetration rate compared to other major European nations, such as UK and France, which are now closing in on 25 per cent of screens equipped for digital cinema. The developments will serve as a catalyst for other major circuits to follow suit, indicating that digital screen growth will now pick up pace, following an initial boost that has to date been almost exclusively derived from 3D.