CinemaCon: Stakeholders Say DCDC Network Could Prompt Growth in Alternative Content

Tim Warner Cinemark CEO - P 2012
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Tim Warner Cinemark CEO - P 2012

Now that the Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition has started to roll out its satellite digital cinema delivery service, stakeholders believe it could enable growth in the alternative content market, as well as open up new promotional opportunities.

Speaking Wednesday at CinemaCon, Cinemark CEO Tim Warner projected that with satellite delivery, the market for alternative content -- which currently represents just 1 percent of the domestic box office -- could grow to 5 to 10 percent in the next few years.

"This is going to open up the [digital cinema] platform for all the content the studios provide," he said. "It's not a new concept, but there's potential for sports, the arts, concerts, special events, and Cinemark has been working with the studios to bring back old films."

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"Building the business model will be difficult but not impossible," he added.

Demonstrating the potential, BBC Worldwide's Fred Medina cited The Day of the Doctor, the 50th anniversary episode of BBC's Doctor Who, which made $10.2 million worldwide at the box office over three days starting with its global simulcast on Nov. 23 in the U.S., U.K., Australia and other countries. He emphasized that this didn't cannibalize the broadcast market, but contributed to "fan building and brand building."

On sports, Warner pointed out that the upcoming FIFA World Cup Final will be available for cinema distribution (depending on the territory and rights holders), and said, "We'd love to have it here in the U.S."

Four year ago, the World Cup Final -- through a joint effort from FIFA and broadcast sponsor Sony -- went out in 3D to select digital cinema theaters including in the domestic market. This year, the World Cup Final will be produced in 2D in 4K resolution.

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Speaking of potential film marketing opportunities, Kelly O'Connor, senior vp exhibitor and marketing services at Warner Bros., noted that the network could be used to beam red carpet events such as movie premieres to theaters. "DCDC is also going to make it easier to deliver customized messages, including your promotions."

DCDC -- which was founded by AMC Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, Regal Entertainment, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures -- launched its service last October and is in the first phase of bringing satellite delivery to roughly 17,000 committed screens in North America.

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Also on Wednesday, DCDC announced that it signed a letter of intent to acquire the Deluxe/EchoStar satellite network. The Deluxe/EchoStar joint venture -- formed in 2010 between Deluxe Digital Cinema and EchoStar Satellite Services -- will continue to serve as DCDC's primary service provider.

Twitter: @CGinLA