Five Studios Sign on for Satellite Movie Delivery

DCDC’s digital cinema distribution platform could begin rollout by midsummer.

Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition has reached agreements with Lionsgate, Universal, Disney, Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures to provide each with theatrical digital-delivery services across North America.

DCDC -- formed by AMC Theatres, Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark Theatres, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. -- has created a satellite and terrestrial digital-distribution network capable of delivering feature, promotional, preshow and live digital-cinema content to theaters.

The studio agreements mark another step toward realizing the promise of digital cinema, including the belief that when d-cinema reached critical mass it could significantly reduce the cost of distribution, which at the start of the transition involved shipping film prints and today often has involved shipping hard drives.

"Our goal is to drive the cost of distribution as low as we can get it,” DCDC spokesman Randolph Blotky tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We’d like to drive it to zero over the course of time.”

Blotky expects the DCDC service to begin operation “when we have about 300 sites deployed, which should be midsummer.” This involves installations of a theater appliance from supplier KenCast. Deluxe/EchoStar will provide satellite operations. Said Cinemark president and CEO Tim Warner, “It’s one-port access to thousands of screens, for both movies and alternative content, from all content providers.”

Said Darcy Antonellis, president of technical operations and CTO at Warner Bros. Entertainment, “The vision of creating a cross-industry distribution service to benefit distributors, exhibitors, service providers and consumers is becoming a reality,” 

Added Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warners: “The service ensures that audiences have the most high-quality entertainment experience while exhibitors and content providers achieve a strategic, secure and cost-effective new business model.”

The majority of the domestic theatrical market is now digital. Some insiders predict that this could be the last year that film prints are distributed to North American theaters.