Sony inks digital deal with AAM for Europe

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LONDON -- Sony Pictures Releasing International on Thursday became the latest to join the growing group of studio-owned overseas releasing arms to sign up for a digital-print distribution future.

SPRI sealed a nonexclusive long-term deal with physical digital service provider Arts Alliance Media to forge a pact to supply movies in digital format.

Sony's overseas arm joins Paramount Pictures International, 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures International in pledging its commitment to the digital theater cause.

In October, PPI signed up to back digital rollout across Europe. Fox and Universal pledged in June to support rollout across nearly 7,000 screens in the coming years through their agreement earlier in the year.

Under the agreement, SPRI has pledged to supply its films "to certain European countries" in digital format to AAM-deployed, DCI-compliant digital-cinema screens. Territories include "those in Western Europe," SPRI said.

The releasing arm also has pledged "to make financial contributions in order to promote digital cinema."

SPRI's move comes after the November decision by French exhibition chain CGR Cinemas to sign with AAM to convert all its 400 screens to digital.

"Arts Alliance Media's plan to roll out digital cinema in Europe has been embraced by the industry, and the winners are the moviegoers across Europe who will enjoy a state-of-the-art, higher-quality theatrical experience," SPRI president Mark Zucker said.

He noted that because of the conversion, "audiences will get to see motion pictures the way filmmakers intended, with beautiful, clear images and pitch-perfect sound."

AAM CEO Howard Kiedaisch said Sony's move "is a significant show of support for a widespread digital-cinema rollout across Europe."
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