Arts Alliance nets $55 mil for digital initiatives

Inks long-term partnership with Arqiva Satellite and Media

LONDON -- Arts Alliance Media, Europe's digital-cinema powerhouse, said Wednesday that it has raised 43 million euros ($55.8 million) of funding from financial-services firm Econocom and private investors to fuel its digital rollout ambitions.

The company also has sealed a long-term strategic partnership with Arqiva Satellite and Media for the satellite distribution of titles and alternative content into theaters throughout Europe.

The brace of deals will help fuel digital-exhibition rollout in Europe and should see theaters equipped to handle the myriad 3-D-formatted movies coming down the pipe from 2009 onward.

AAM CEO Howard Kiedaisch called the deals "significant investments" and expressed his delight at striking the deals in challenging market conditions.

Econocom Financial Services will provide 20 million euros ($26 million) for the purchase of equipment to complete the ongoing digitalization of France's Circuit George Raymond cinema circuit. Via its virtual print fee-based rollout agreement with AAM, CGR has installed 126 digital screens to date and is aiming to complete the digital makeover of all 400 of its screens by the spring.

The additional 23 million euros ($29.8 million) in funding has been raised from private investors and will fuel AAM's ambitions to build up its own operations.

AAM has formalized its partnership with Arqiva, having co-operated on projects including the distribution of the Palme d'Or winning pic "Entre Les Murs."

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