Cloud Startup Inks More Theater Chains for New Delivery System

Cinemark Theaters - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Business Wire

Cinemark is proceeding to convert its domestic theater circuits to the delivery network developed by cinema tech startup MetaMedia.

Cloud-based cinema distribution startup MetaMedia is expanding its footprint.

The L.A.-based  company on Thursday announced partnerships with Landmark Cinemas, Canada’s second largest circuit with 44 locations and 325 screens; and the Independent Cinema Alliance, an association of 140 member independent cinemas operating approximately 400 theaters and 2,600 screens in the U.S. and Canada.

Combined with deals to convert venues from Cinemark (332 U.S. theaters), Cinépolis (30 theaters) and Emagine Entertainment (21 theaters) to the MetaMedia Entertainment Network (which were reported last week, exclusively in The Hollywood Reporter), the company says it now has overall commitments to support an estimated 5,000 screens.

MetaMedia said it aims to connect 25,000 cinema screens across five countries to the network by 2021. The company recently launched in Australia and Mexico.

The Microsoft Azure cloud-based network is designed to support all out-of-home venues, including cinemas and drive-ins, with the ability to deliver movies, trailers, advertising, live events, and programming such as concerts and esports. “We see a new digital era where cinemas are multimedia entertainment venues at the heart of every community," said Landmark CEO Bill Walker.

Said MetaMedia CEO Jason Brenek, “MetaMedia will bring to these partners many of the economic, operational and programming benefits that the industry envisioned with the roll-out of digital cinema over a decade ago, with the added benefit of contactless content delivery for the post-COVID world.”

He relates that currently, roughly 75 percent of movies worldwide are delivered to theaters on hard drives, with most of the remaining titles arriving through satellite delivery methods. (In the U.S., current theatrical distribution is about 50/50 between hard drives and satellite delivery, according to Brenek.)

“Too many of our members’ locations are still dependent on content having to be hand delivered on hard drives," said Bill Campbell, president and CEO of Orpheum Theatre and ICA chairman. "Now content owners will be able to deliver to our theatres electronically, which will make it more cost efficient for them and for our ICA members, and open up greater availability of content for our members.”