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As the U.S. box office restarts amid a pandemic, a new cloud-based distribution system is rolling out for theatrical film releases.
Cinemark (332 U.S. theaters), Cinepolis (30 theaters) and Emagine (21 theaters) are proceeding to convert their domestic theater circuits to the Microsoft Azure-based delivery network developed by cinema tech startup MetaMedia.
The firm “is currently connected to 15 percent of Cinemark’s U.S. theaters as we begin the rollout of our full partnership,” says Damien Wardle, Cinemark’s executive vp global technology, operations and presentation.
MetaMedia CEO Jason Brenek, who earlier oversaw digital cinema at Disney and served as Imax’s president of home entertainment, notes that 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.) He believes cloud-based tech offers a more efficient alternative.
The service was developed to support all out-of-home venues, including cinemas, pop-up drive-ins or outdoor arenas. Brenek suggests that his network could be used to screen concerts — his company has partnered with events organizer Encore Live to deliver a recorded Metallica concert to about 300 drive-ins — as well as esports and faith services.
Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi adds of the startup: “Through their cloud-based content delivery system, we are able to get the content we need in a way that saves time and money without compromising quality.”
This story first appeared in the Sept. 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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