GDC adds HK's UA, Broadway cinemas

Digital cinema server maker signs up two major chains

HONG KONG -- GDC, a Hong Kong-based manufacturer of digital cinema servers, has unveiled a string of significant deals with Asian movie theater operators.
 
It agreed deals to supply rival Hong Kong circuits UA Cinemas and Broadway Cinemas with DCI-compliant digital cinema equipment using the "virtual print fee" scheme. That involves Hollywood Studios including 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures International, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures International and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International making financial contributions for a limited time towards the cost of installing D-cinema hardware.
 
In many territories exhibitors and film distributors have argued which group gains the most from the conversion from 35mm film projection to use of digital cinema, and therefore have disputed which group should pay for the equipment. As a result, D-cinema rollout has not been as fast in some overseas markets as in the U.S. Alternative methods of footing the bill include exhibitor-funding, government subsidies, the use of aggregators and pay-per-play models.
 
"More exhibitors are beginning to recognize the benefits of GDC’s VPF scheme: significant cost-saving in digital conversion and the offer of a sustainable roll-out strategy. GDC firmly believes VPF is the way to go,” said Dr. Chong Man-Nang, CEO of GDC Technology.
 
UA operates 38 screens at eight locations, with 13 GDC systems currently installed at 7 cinema sites. The new contract will see another 20 installed by the end of 2010. Broadway operates 60 screens at 12 Hong Kong locations and already has 32 GDC systems in place. The contract adds a further 18 GDC systems by the end of 2010.
 
"GDC is offering this new VPF scheme at a time when we are expanding our digital installations. This will cut down on our capital outlay," said Tessa Lau, executive director at Broadway.
 
GDC also added new exhibitor clients for the roll-out of RealD's 3-D technology. These include Broadway and UA, Indonesia's Blitz Theatres, Taiwan's Ambassador Cinemas and Shaw Cinemas in Singapore. GDC, which began representing RealD in Asia from April, has signed up close to 100 installations.
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