Disney joins digital cinema club with AAM


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BERLIN -- Walt Disney Studios International on Monday became the latest company to join the growing group of studio-owned overseas releasing arms to sign up for a digital-print distribution future.

Disney sealed a nonexclusive long-term deal with physical digital service provider Arts Alliance Media to forge a pact to supply movies in digital format. The parties announced the deal in London.

Disney's overseas arm joins Sony Pictures Releasing International, Paramount Pictures International, 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures International in pledging its commitment to the digital theater cause. It just leaves Warner Bros. from the majors to sort out its terms.

Under the agreement, Disney has pledged to supply its films "across Europe" in digital format to AAM-deployed, DCI-compliant digital-cinema screens.

The releasing arm also has pledged to "make provisional contributions towards the digital cinema hardware costs of AAM-deployed DCI-compliant screens."

AAM's agreements with Fox, Universal, Paramount and Sony cover the conversion of as many as 7,000 screens during the next few years.

Disney's move comes after a decision in November by French exhibition chain CGR Cinemas to sign with AAM to convert all of its 400 screens to digital.

"Not only do we release all our films in the digital format, Disney is also the No. 1 provider of digital 3-D motion pictures," said Anthony Marcoly, president of sales and distribution at Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International. "We're delighted that audiences everywhere will soon be able to see movies like they've never seen before."

Added AAM CEO Howard Kiedaisch: "This is great news for European exhibitors, and we look forward to more innovative cinema circuits joining up to our distributor-supported rollout plan."