Cinedigm gets its digital moolah

Up to $100 million to fund installation of digital systems

Cinedigm has its digital moolah.

The d-cinema integrator has been hunting for financial-community backing of the sort earlier secured by Digital Cinema Implementation Partners, and on Wednesday execs announced agreements for five-year credit facilities from GE Capital and Societe Generale.

The facilities will provide up to $100 million to fund the installation of digital systems in more than 2,100 additional theater auditoriums.

A previous $500 million commitment form GE Capital helped roll out thousands of digital systems in circuits nationwide, with Carmike Cinemas a big beneficiary of that lending. Cinedigm customers have installed digital systems in more than 3,700 auditoriums to date, but the integrator -- and most of the exhibition industry -- have been treading water for the past year due to the protracted credit crunch.

The bank money lined up by Cinedigm and DCIP will cover upfront costs of the next phase of the industry's digital rollout. But Hollywood studios have agreed to pay down those loans over the next several years, with exhibitors themselves absorbing only a small portion of costs related to the move to digital projection.

Projector companies Christie and Barco will participate in Cinedigm's Phase Two rollout, once the GE Capital lending is finalized sometime in the fourth quarter.

GE Capital's commitment covers the financing of up to about 1,600 digital systems and Societe Generale's commitment covers the financing of up to an additional 533 digital systems.

Cinedigm CFO Adam Mizel called the new funding a milestone achievement that "will enable exhibitors to take advantage of the significant benefits of digital cinema."