Worldwide digital screen count passes 4,000

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Following a rush last week to complete technical installations to enable 3-D screenings for Disney's "Meet the Robinsons," the number of theaters equipped with digital cinema screens worldwide has passed the 4,000 mark. With the bulk of these being domestic installations, it also means that roughly 10% of the screens in the U.S. are now digital, reported Texas Instruments, the developer of the DLP Cinema chip.

TI's figures are based on projectors using DLP technology. The TI chip is used in digital cinema projectors from Barco, Christie and NEC, and TI estimated that 99% of digital theaters rely on this technology.

"Meet the Robinsons" will play in 3-D on roughly 600 digital cinema screens domestically, and an additional 100 internationally. "There has been a 400% increase in 3-D screens using DLP Cinema projectors in the U.S. since Disney's 2006 release of "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D," said Nancy Fares, business manager for DLP Cinema Products Group. "Meet the Robinsons" will also be available in 2D on 122 digital cinema screens worldwide.

The burst of activity demonstrates some momentum in the transition, as the industry recorded 1,000 digital cinema screens in theaters about a year ago and reached 3,000 in early January.

Tony Adamson, manager of DLP marketing at Texas Instruments said that DLP Cinema-based projector installations have been averaging approximately 400 a month, and he hopes the movement will hit 5,000 screens during the summer. "There will be a big push in April to be prepared for the summer blockbusters," he said. "We project 7,000 (worldwide) by the end of the year."
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