AccessIT, studios in Phase 2


LAS VEGAS -- Digital cinema provider Access Integrated Technologies has reached agreements with Disney, Fox, Paramount and Universal, which have committed to provide movies to as many as 10,000 digital-cinema systems in the U.S. and Canada in conformance with the Digital Cinema Initiatives specification.

The commitments begin AccessIT's Phase 2 digital-cinema deployment program. Per the plan, AccessIT intends to deploy as many as 10,000 systems throughout North America during the next three years. The studios have agreed to pay virtual print fees for movies projected on AccessIT systems for 10 years from the date of installation.

"This agreement signals yet another important step forward for the future of d-cinema and will also have a major impact on the availability of 3-D projection in the U.S. and Canada," Paramount executive vp distribution Mark Christiansen said.

Deployment of the 10,000 screens would make up about 25% of the total screens in the U.S. Of the estimated total of 39,000 screens, 4,754 already have been converted to digital.

AccessIT's Phase 1 included the rollout of more than 3,700 systems in 41 states, making up the majority of domestic installations. "AccessIT's technologies, management and financing have aided exhibitors across the U.S. to enter the digital-cinema era," Disney distribution president Chuck Viane said.

Added Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco, "The success of the first AccessIT deployment makes us confident that their next deployment will be equally beneficial for Universal, exhibitors and movie fans."

Said Julian Levin, executive vp at 20th Century Fox, who spearheaded Fox's participation in the DCI process, "The great success the industry is experiencing with the systems already installed by AccessIT makes our continued commitment to the company and to digital cinema a win-win."

Levin was the senior Fox architect for the AccessIT arrangement with the studios.

"With (the studios') renewed support of this next chapter of our digital-cinema program, the industry has a clear signal of the studios' continuing commitment to the digital future and all the benefits of that technology, especially 3-D and alternative content," said Chuck Goldwater, president of AccessIT's media services division.