Scrabble, Christie bring DCI screens to India

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NEW DELHI -- Scrabble Entertainment will supply 200 Christie DLP Cinema projectors to some of India's leading exhibitor chains, the companies said Friday, adding that the deal marks India's "largest single digital cinema deployment" approved by the Hollywood studios' Digital Cinema Initiative.

India is one of the world's most under-screened markets, with about 10,000 existing screens, or about 12 for every 1 million people. About 17,000 new D-cinema screens worldwide are forecast to be in place by 2010 ,according to U.K. research agency Screen Digest.

Last week, Dolby Laboratories announced a pact with UFO Moviez to sell its D-cinema solutions in India and inked a similar deal with Shanghai Film Group Corp. for China (HR 3/12).

While Mumbai-based UFO Moviez serves more than 1,000 screens with its non-DCI system -- technically termed E-cinema -- the entry of Dolby and Christie into India is seen as a market-opener for DCI-approved systems on which Hollywood films can be screened.

Among the first Indian exhibitors to sign up for the Christie system are PVR Cinemas, Fame Cinemas, INOX and Cinemax.

As one of India's biggest theatrical chains, New Delhi-based PVR Cinemas runs 103 screens and has committed to converting all new theaters with Christie CP2000 digital cinema projectors.

While commercial terms were not disclosed, Scrabble will finance the exhibitors' transition to digital by collecting a negotiated "virtual print fee" from movie distributors.

Scrabble already has commitments from studios in India to provide DCI-compliant content and plans to install a total of 1,750 projectors over the next five years at an average 350 projectors per year.

"India has a constant flow of content produced by Bollywood, yet has a relatively low screen count. With a huge moviegoing community, the country has enormous room to support explosive growth in digital cinema. With our global success in digital cinema, we have the experience to help our partners as the momentum picks up across the country," said Lin Yu, Christie's vp sales Asia Pacific.

Added Scrabble CEO Ranjit Thakur: "Traditionally, India has opted for e-cinema due to its low cost of deployment. Now, we can help cinemas leverage digital cinema technology at an affordable cost, while providing the ultimate experience for moviegoers - be it Hollywood or local movies."

Other D-cinema providers include Real Image, which sells its Qube Cinema servers from its base in Chennai, South India. In an interview, Thakur explained that Scrabble will sell a complete D-cinema solution "which consists of Christie projectors and Qube servers." Qube also has deployed its systems for the 59-screen U.S. art house chain Landmark Theatres.
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