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Further Digitization of Theaters: Eurimages in Eastern Europe, Switzerland and Poland on Board

Further Digitization of Theaters: Eurimages in Eastern Europe, Switzerland and Poland on Board

Digitzation of theaters continues in Europe. Scandinavia is fully digitized. Now comes Switzerland, Eurimages will pay for digitization of Eurimages theaters in Balkans, Polish chains convert.

Eurimages digitization program application deadline of January 14, 2011 is approaching for a support program launched last summer by the Eurimages Board of Management, for the purchase and installation of digital equipment within the network of theatres supported by Eurimages in Turkey, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Albania. Under this program, a lump sum grant of €20,000 per screen will be awarded by Eurimages to exhibitors who operate theatres assisted by the Eurimages theatre support program. This support can be used to cover the purchase and installation of digital projectors, servers and other related options. Exhibitors receiving support must seek any additional funding from their national or local authorities or through investments from their own equity or private sources to complete the overall financing. Following a tender procedure by the Council of Europe, the Belgian company XDC International has been selected to be the exclusive provider for the implementation of this program.

Helios and Multikino in full digital expansion
Polish movie theatre network Centrum Filmowe Helios, which at the end of August unveiled its plan to open seven new multiplexes, is clearly thriving for it has just announced its intention to build ten more complexes. These multiplexes will be based in shopping centres in major cities (Warsaw, Lodz), as well as in towns of no more than 70,000 inhabitants like Lomza, Mielec and Kedzierzyn-Kozle where 17 new multiplexes will open before the end of 2014, i.e. 96 screens and almost 21,000 seats”.
Helios also plans to increase its number of digital projectors (particularly those equipped for 3D screenings) in its currently operating theatres (24 multiplexes and two traditional cinemas). The aim is to install 133 new projectors over the next three years. Helios’s competitor, the Multikino network (21 multiplexes in Poland and two abroad: in Riga, Latvia and in Vilnius, Lithuania), has also announced a technological revolution: all its theatres are to be equipped with digital projectors before 2013. “For the moment, we have 295 projectors of this kind and the number is rapidly increasing,” said Multikino CEO Piotr Zygo. “Of the ten major hits of last year, six were 3D films. It’s not necessary for all titles to arrive in theatres with this technology, which is a plus especially for animated films and blockbusters. But this is the direction cinema is going in. And with our theatres equipped with digital projectors, we’re no longer thinking about just films: soon we will also be offering sport, concerts and competitions between cities in the form of digital games.”
by Dorota Hartwich Cineuropa

Things are gathering pace with the burning issue of equipping Swiss movie theatres with digital projectors. At the request of Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, the Film Section of the Federal Office for Culture (OFC) announced that in a few weeks it will deliver to the Internal Affairs Department a plan aiming to support the diversity of films on offer on national territory. This support should enable exhibitors who meet the programming criteria set out by Film Section experts to raise up to 50% of investment necessary for the purchase of digital projectors and servers for their theatre(s).
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If this support programme is validated by Burkhalter, two thorny problems will still need to be sorted out. The first concerns the financing of the planned support. If the Swiss Parliament was to refuse to grant extraordinary funding to the OFC, Laurent Steiert, acting head of the Film Section, would probably have no other choice than to fund the diversity support plan with part of the ordinary funds allocated for film – which could cause serious tensions within the profession.

The second difficulty concerns the remaining 50% of investment theatres need to find in order to equip themselves with digital. Many exhibitors could be unable to provide this remaining amount.

Aware of the risk of cultural desertification caused by the possible closure of some cinemas, especially in small towns, more and more people are suggesting that the cantons or regions should in turn set up support programmes – as has already been done in the Bernese Jura, which stands as an example in this respect. However, with each canton having full control over its cultural policy, there is reason to fear there could be major disparities in their individual handling of the issue.

from Cineuropa, by Emmanuel Cuénod

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