New system advised for digital theater


LONDON -- The one-hat-fits-all virtual print-fee model for U.S. exhibitors may be working in the U.S., but digital theater operations across Europe will flounder if a new system for distribution costs is not devised, according to a report published Thursday.

The report, from research specialists Screen Digest, is the second in as many days from U.K.-based researchers suggesting that fragmentation in the Euro zone will mean digital adoption is slower than in the U.S. (HR 10/24).

Screen Digest has come up with what it is calling the Digital Cinema Conversion Index "as the first step in developing a working model for conversion to digital in order to combat the problems facing digital cinema take up."

The Index aims to provide a clear indication of which countries are suited to a relatively simple conversion to digital cinema and those territories where market conditions will complicate the matter.

The average DCCI across all countries was 53.9, with the USA clearly the most suited to digital cinema conversion with a DCCI of 86.7.

In Europe, the territory with a market structure most suited to a transition to digital cinema was the U.K. At the other end of the scale, the European territory least suited to conversion is Finland at 33.9.

The drivers behind the DCCI are 10 statistical measurements from each territory including screens per site, U.S. boxoffice domination, U.S. share of the market and print market values.

The index also takes into account exhibitor concentration, distributor concentration, multiplex penetration, distributor level revenues, proportion of single screen sites and the number of first-run films.

For each measure, each territory was attributed points for how it performed. Those were then totaled up and converted to an index for a final result.

But Screen Digest warns that its index does not take into such account factors as industry and government attitudes, which can significantly alter the conversion equation.

As of the end of first-half 2006, there were 1,474 d-cinema screens in the world, with 53% located in the U.S. and 24% in Europe.

Screen Digest forecasts 17,800 high-end digital cinema screens globally by the end of 2010, with the U.S. leading the way with one quarter of its screens converted by that date.