CineAsia hosts digital revolution

Key confab gets under way with record attendance

CineAsia, the region's largest exhibitor and distributor show, rolled the dice for the first time in this South China gambling mecca Tuesday, drawing more than 500 registrants to talk about digital cinema and other hot industry topics.

"This is a huge attendance record for us," said Mitch Neuhauser of CineAsia, the 14-year-old show that spent the past two years dealing with the winter cold and bureaucratic red tape of China's capital Beijing.

Staged at the Wynn Macau hotel and the Macau Tower in this former Portuguese colony, the three-day CineAsia event kicked off with seminars, talks and a lunch hosted by Fox and Belgian projector-maker Barco.

"The past few trade shows, there's been a lot of talk, but we're pleased now to feel that something could really be beginning to happen here," said Alaric McAusland, group GM of Atlab Australia, one of the largest film processing labs and postproduction facilities in the region.

In a morning session, Morristown, N.J.-based digital cinema solutions company AccessIT boasted about a new, nonexclusive distribution agreement with Doremi Labs for territories outside the U.S., and AccessIT international vp David Gajda said he's hoping to hit the ground running in Asia. "This is the next big growth market," he said.

Later, China Film Digital Cinema Circuit said it has extended a deal with Barco and Singapore-based GDC Technology to bring more digital screens to China. Beijing-based China Film Digital has already installed 400 of a planned 700-screen rollout, but it will raise the total number of digital screens to about 2,000, CineAsia founder Bob Sunshine said.

To further the discussion of the digital revolution in the East, Sunshine today will gather 44 executives from 13 countries and 21 distribution companies. Sure to be in the middle of the closed-door session are digital gurus Scott Sherr of Sony, Adam Rymer of Universal and Mark Christiansen of Paramount, Sunshine said.

As dusk fell, the theater at the Macau Tower was preparing for Jerry Bruckheimer and Walt Disney Pictures to present Nicolas Cage starrer "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," the first of three major Hollywood studio films screening in advance of their U.S. premieres.

Reporters were asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement about the content of the films, and Sunshine said cameras and cell phones will be checked at the door.

"It's important that we handle the security right or these guys won't let us have these special advance screenings again," Sunshine said, adding that metal detector wands and night vision goggles would be employed to root out the recording devices that contribute to rampant piracy in China.

The Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter, owns CineAsia.