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March 25, 2010

3D boosts cinemas

by Rapid TV News

Website: Rapid TV News

3D movies like Avatar and Alice in Wonderland are helping create extremely positive momentum for the growth of digital cinema – and movie fans love the technology.

Screen Digest says that there are now 16,405 digital cinema screens around the world, up a massive 86.4% on the end-2008 position.

“Further growth will come in 2010 as digital 3D pushes the market towards a 35mm-free cinema sector,” says Screen Digest.

“This means that 14.8% cent of the world’s modern cinema screens are digitized, and 9,000 are also equipped with digital 3D (55% of total digital screens).

The eventual and inevitable conclusion of full digital cinema will take the best part of another decade to complete, although some countries will be all-digital well before then.”

“Progress has been especially rapid in Western Europe, with French d-screens growing 277% during 2009 and are now approaching 1,000 (959 at the end of 2009), the largest market in Europe.

At the end of 2009, there were 4,580 digital screens in Europe, up from 1,547 in 2008.

“The rush towards equipping screens with 3D was driven by the release of Avatar in December 2009, a film that is heading towards being the highest-grossing film of the modern cinema era, and has done much to convince exhibitors that at least a proportion of their screens should be equipped with 3D.

The growth of 3D screens in 2009 was nothing short of explosive, with a global growth rate of 254.5% but this average is dwarfed by the growth rate of 614% in Western Europe.

International markets catching up with the USA are the primary driver behind the increase.

“The 3D phenomenon is not just affecting how movies are watched. It is also being tested in the field of alternative content.

There are regular live 3D sports broadcasts in the USA; in Europe sport and opera have both been broadcast live in 3D in cinemas in recent months.

“However, without the 3D-driven growth, the effects of the credit crunch are highly visible in the development of digital cinema.

“When the financial crisis hit in October 2008, several major circuit-wide digital deployment deals were put on hold, creating a ‘wait-for-the-recovery’ mentality that is still in place for a full-scale 2D digital conversion.

“If 3D had not been so popular, digital cinema in general would be proceeding at a much slower pace, having a knock-on impact on a whole swathe of technology and commercial support companies.

“During 2008, digital 3D screens accounted for 85.1% of all new digital cinema installations,” adds Screen Digest.

David Hancock, Screen Digest’s Head of Film and Cinema says: “The release of Avatar was the BC/AD moment for digital cinema, taking us from the prehistory of the first 10 years, characterized by research, false commercial starts, standards development and early pioneers, to the modern world of commercial cinema as it will be in the decades to come.

“Digital 3D, opera, theatre, music and comedy in cinemas, live 3D sport, and interactive adverts are all a part of cinema in the future; not just a place to watch movies but a multi-arts venue which can be the heart of small and large communities alike.

“The refreshment of cinema is firmly underway and it is now taking its place as an integral part of the digital media landscape on the one hand, and as a revitalised leisure venue on the other.”



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