Canadians Raise $115 Million for Digital Rollout

Avatar ($2.8 billion)
Courtesy of Twentieth Century-Fox

In the months and weeks leading up to Avatar’s release, many said there was no way Fox would come out ahead on the 3D tentpole. But never underestimate James Cameron. The film went onto gross a massive $2.02 billion at the international box office, and $760.5 million in North America. The movie, which revolutionized 3D filmmaking and remains the gold standard, supplanted Cameron’s Titanic as the biggest film of all time

Cineplex Entertainment and Empire Theaters hope to complete their film-to-digital rollout countrywide by the end of 2012.

TORONTO -- Canada’s two largest exhibition chains have secured $115 million to deploy digital projection equipment in 1600 theatres nationwide.

Cineplex Entertainment and Empire Theatres, which formed  the Canadian Digital Cinema Partnership (CDCP) in April, have raised $80 million in bank financing and thrown in $35 million of their own funds to complete their film-to-digital cinema transition by the end of 2012.

The CDCP will follow the technical and security specs of U.S. exhibitors and studios that are part of the Digital Cinema Implementation Partners consortium stateside.

The CDCP joint venture has already secured long-term digital deployment agreements with Twentieth Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Brothers Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Canada, Paramount Pictures and Entertainment One.

Besides rolling out digital technology to screen the next blockbuster 3D movie like Avatar or Alice in Wonderland, Cineplex and other major Canadian circuits have diversified their businesses away from Hollywood movies to move into alternative digital-based entertainment like live opera and theatre, concerts and sports.

Cineplex runs 1,360 screens countrywide, while Empire Theatres operates another 386 screens.