Paramount Int'l joins digital club

Pact with Arts Alliance helps ensure Europe rollout

Paramount Pictures International on Thursday sealed a nonexclusive long-term deal with physical digital-service provider Arts Alliance Media to forge a pact to supply movies in digital format, joining a growing band of studio distribution arms committed to a digital print future.

PPI allies with 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures International in pledging its commitment to the digital-theater cause.

In June, Fox and Universal signed up to back digital rollout across Europe for close to 7,000 screens in the coming years.

Under the pact, PPI has committed to supply its films in digital format to AAM-deployed, DCI-compliant digital-cinema screens in the U.K. and Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Nordic region and Benelux.

PPI president Andrew Cripps said the deal to roll out DCI-compliant digital-projection systems is a "real step-change in the international arena."

He added, "(It) will only accelerate as 3-D product becomes more commonplace, and Paramount is proud to be at the forefront of this."

AAM CEO Howard Kiedaisch said, "Gaining the support of PPI enables AAM to take our exhibitor discussions to the next level and kick off widespread digital-cinema rollout across Europe."

AAM said it is "in active negotiations with other studios for further digital deployment deals."

Fiona Deans, AAM director of digital cinema, said that adding PPI is a boost.

"They share our steadfast determination to bring digital cinema to Europe, with a solid rollout plan, a continuous and sustained flow of content and reliable maintenance and support," she said.

In April, the British-based digital specialist completed the U.K. Film Council digital-cinema rollout of 240 screens. AAM's in-house digital-cinema lab has encoded more than 200 digital- cinema titles and shipped more than 3,489 digital prints.

Such high-profile filmmakers as James Cameron and Robert Zemeckis and studio chiefs like Jeffrey Katzenberg have heralded 3-D digital cinema as a key component in the reinvention of cinema for worldwide audiences.