Reg. Trib. Milano n. 418 del 02.07.2007
Direttore responsabile: Elisabetta Brunella

  International Edition No. 44 - year 4 - 26 February 2009


DigiTraining Plus 2009:
European Cinemas Experiencing New Technologies

London and Hull (Great Britain, 25th February – 1st March 2009)
The daily DGT online informer

In the heart of London’s cinema-land, Leicester Square, it is the start of the second day in the DigiTraining Plus course, organized by MEDIA Salles, in 2009 as in 2008, in the United Kingdom.
The visit to the Empire Cinema, with a commentary by Derek Cownty, Head of Programming, concentrating on the management of a complex that has adopted digital projection, the viewing of a selection put together by XDC of European films distributed in digital format, the economic model proposed by Arts Alliance Media to European exhibitors were the main contents of the morning sessions.
Added to all this, came the second part of a long and detailed lecture by Michael Karagosian, dealing with the latest issues regarding digital transition, starting out from the experience of the United States, a market that boasts 5,000 screens fitted with the new technology.
The digital consultant for NATO, the United States exhibitors’ association, gave clear answers to the questions most often posed by European exhibitors.

There follows part of the interview given by Michael Karagosian to Elisabetta Brunella, for the readers of DGT Online Informer.

In Europe a lot of attention is given to the VPF model adopted in the United States but there is also talk of alternatives, such as, for example, a reduction in the rental fees.

“To facilitate digital transition,” said Karagosian, “studios are ready to contribute money to the purchase of equipment for installation in cinemas for a limited period: the contracts signed up to now stipulate ten years. To make it clear that this is a special, temporary form of assistance, the studios do not wish to simply discount the rental fee. Moreover up to now they have provided this money through deployment entities, the so-called “integrators”, only.
Paramount has recently offered US exhibitors a direct form of VPF. This is yet to be proposed to other countries and it remains to be seen if other studios are ready to do the same.
It is always clear that the primary objective of the majors in applying VPF is that the studios wish to remain cost neutral: they want to spend no more on digital prints and VPF that they spend on 35 mm film prints.

On another burning issue – the technical specifications of the equipment – Karagosian stressed from a positive point of view that DCI had initiated a testing programme for equipment compliance: “This is an important step towards reaching an objective exhibitors consider essential, that the equipment they buy is the right investment.”

In connection with this comes the initiative taken by NATO in publishing a document on specifics: according to Karagosian, “this complements DCI specs, with the aim of providing an exhibitor perspective on how digital equipment should operate.”

Again on the role of the exhibitors’ associations, Karagosian confirmed that “they should focus on preserving the existing business rules, which would include the ability of theatre owners to shift a movie within a cinema complex to the most suitable screen during the period of engagement.”

And finally an optimistic light on the future of cinema exhibition. Karagosian stated that: “The whole economics of the motion picture industry is changing. Many feel that this is in part due to changes in consumer behaviour. However, whilst overall revenues for the sector are down, cinema revenues remain high. Nielsen studies show that cinema-going is the least affected by competition from new media.”

(click here to see the course programme)

MEDIA Salles
Piazza Luigi di Savoia, 24 – 20124 Milano - Italy
Tel.: +39.02.6739781 – Fax: +39.02.6690410
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MEDIA Salles, a project operating within the framework of the European Union's MEDIA Programme, with the support of the Italian Government, fosters theatrical distribution of European audiovisual products, both by high profile campaigns involving Europe's cinema exhibitors and by initiatives to raise the visibility of European productions with industry players and potential audiences, creating specialized information channels on a global scale. Thus the current initiatives from MEDIA Salles dovetail in a program with a triple focus – training, promotion and information – and maximum combined effect.