Technicolor plants seeds in digital test

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LAS VEGAS -- Technicolor Digital Cinema's digital-cinema beta test, intended to cover about 240 screens throughout the U.S. and Canada, came into further focus as additional details were announced at ShoWest.

The company has entered into an agreement with Wehrenberg Theatres, a family owned-and-operated St. Louis-based circuit, to install digital-projection systems throughout the Midwest, where Wehrenberg operates 15 theater complexes with 204 screens. TDC also said it will install digital-projection systems in all of Zyacorp Entertainment's Cinemagic screens throughout the Northeastern U.S.

Under the terms of the Zyacorp agreement, 22 systems initially will be installed as part of the beta test, with the balance of the Zyacorp circuit to be installed during the broader digital-cinema rollout in early 2008.

"The beta program is going very well; we announced about 240 screens and expect to have that by midyear," said Curt Behlmer, executive vp of Technicolor Theatrical Services and COO of Technicolor Digital Cinema. "We anticipate at the end of the year transitioning from beta to rollout."

TDC's long-term plan is to complete rollout of digital-projection systems in up to 5,000 screens during the next three or four years.

In the current phase, TDC has been testing numerous digital-cinema projectors and servers. At ShoWest, TDC said that it selected Christie's CP2000-X projectors for installation in up to 120 beta test site locations.

At beta sites, TDC will evaluate at least three different projectors, including ones made by Christie, Barco and NEC. TDC also is testing Sony's 4k digital-cinema projector and expects that it might be added to the field beta test, Behlmer said.

Multiple servers also are part of the beta program. Doremi Cinema also said at ShoWest that it has delivered more than 150 DCP-2000 cinema servers for TDC's North American installations and that many of these units will be used in Real D's 3-D deployment for Disney's animated feature "Meet the Robinsons," which bows March 30. Doremi Cinema also said it completed a supplier agreement with TDC for potential future orders.

Dolby Laboratories said that TDC has ordered 190 Dolby Digital Cinema JPEG 2000 systems and will deploy 60 units for its North American digital-cinema beta test and 130 with Belgium-based Kinepolis Group.
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