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

International Edition No. 50 - year 4
12 November 2009


Dear readers,

on  behalf  of  MEDIA  Salles,  I am  glad to invite the European cinema professionals to the “DigiTraining Plus 2010” in Helsinki, in February 2010. Thanks to the Finnish Film Foundation and the Finnish Chamber of Films, it has been made possible for MEDIA Salles to launch the seventh edition of our course on digital cinema for the first time in a Nordic country. Interesting also because the state of Finland shows a special engagement in developing the eminent but difficult transition from analogue to digital technology in the cinemas.
See you in Helsinki and make sure to bring woollen mittens!
Jens Rykaer
President of MEDIA Salles

Welcome to Digital Odyssey 2010 in Helsinki!

Digital transformation is on its way both in cinemas and distribution. It is quite predictable that it will go faster and faster during the next few years, so it is essential to understand how we can most benefit from the new possibilities of an all-digital future. Is there any other way than training and education to open our eyes to new possibilities?
The “DigiTraining Plus” by MEDIA Salles will be organized for the first time in Helsinki, Finland in February 2010. Besides updated information on digital transition from our world-famous specialists, Finland can offer a rather different view on one of the most difficult questions in transition: the financing. Most of the digital screens in Finland are financed to quite a large extent by public funding from The Finnish Film Foundation.
At the end of this year, 15% of Finnish screens will be digital and most of them with 3D. For two years now almost all full-length Finnish feature films have been available in digital format. There is no use going digital without domestic and European digital content as well as better circulation of world cinema.
Besides fiction, more and more documentary films are distributed in digital format. For the audience this means more diversity in the choice of films, and to cinemas great opportunities to reach and serve new audiences. Also alternative content, especially live operas from the Metropolitan, are enjoying more and more interest. But this is just the beginning.
We shall be glad to see cinema owners, distributors, producers and other interested participants in Helsinki! Through lectures, discussions, different case studies and experiences from others we’ll once again learn a bit more, as we have already done in earlier editions of the “DigiTraining Plus”.
With best wishes
Harri Ahokas
Head of Domestic Distribution
The Finnish Film Foundation
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Francesca Piraccini – Cinema Eliseo Multisala, Cesena (Italy)

For around 15 years I have been managing the Cinema Eliseo Multisala in Cesena, a town of 90,000 inhabitants in the heart of Romagna, about 90 kilometres from Bologna. It is a fine building in the old part of the town and comprises four screens devoted to both commercial and art-house movies, seating a total audience of 700, with a hospitable Cinecafé where aperitifs and tea can be sipped whilst browsing through film magazines and books on the cinema, as well as an inside bar with popcorn and liquorice. Equipped as a polifunctional centre, it is able to host conferences and multi-media events. The venue was opened by my maternal grandfather in 1949, then altered to house two separate screens in 1992 (one of the very first in Italy) and later completely restructured in 2006 and equipped with a first digital projection installation – consisting of a Christie projector, Doremi server and 3D XpanD system – in August 2009.
(Click here to read the whole article)
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Steve Perrin nominated head of the UK Digital Funding Group

The British cinema exhibitors’ association (CEA) has announced that Steve Perrin will be head of the UK Digital Funding Group, the office responsible for negotiating financial support for the digital conversion of small and medium-sized cinemas in the United Kingdom. Steve Perrin, previously Senior Vice President and Head of International at Rentrak Theatrical, who was a speaker at MEDIA Salles’ “DigiTraining Plus” courses in 2005 and 2006, affirmed: “The launch of this initiative gives further evidence of the British cinema industry’s desire to remain at the vanguard of new technology.”
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MEDIA Salles announces
the 2010 edition of the training course for
European cinema exhibitors
“DigiTraining Plus: European Cinemas
Experiencing New Technologies”

When: 17 – 21 February 2010
Where: Helsinki, Finland
Main venue: Finnish Film Foundation Auditorium in Katajanokka, Helsinki

Click here to download the application form
Click here to go to the page dedicated to the course

Challenging objectives

To offer professional players in the world of the cinema, in particular exhibitors, the knowledge they need to weigh up risks and opportunities in the transition to digital.
To provide an opportunity to meet and exchange experiences on burning issues such as:
  • How to finance the digital shift?
  • What changes are involved from a technical point of view and in terms of competences and staffing?
  • How to deal with programming in a digital cinema?
  • Does digital make it possible to offer audiences new services and new products?
  • What opportunities does digital yield for European films?
  • What relations should be established with providers of content?
  • Does digital allow for a new type of movie theatre and new movie theatres?

• The contents

  • Lectures by international experts on current issues such as standards, economic models, availability of alternative content and the future prospects of 3D
  • Screenings, presentations and special events devoted to new developments in the technology and demos of digital contents
  • Visits to cinemas equipped with digital installations

Finnkino’s Flamingo cinema is located inside the Flamingo Entertainment Complex in Vantaa and is one of the cinemas that the participants at the “DigiTraining Plus 2010” will visit.

• A unique style

  • A balanced combination of theory and practice
  • Objective information
  • Experiences in the forefront
  • An international range of participants and speakers
  • Involvement of private companies, professional associations and public institutions
  • Contributions by representatives from the entire cinema chain
  • A special attention to medium and small-sized exhibition companies

• A successful formula

Source: Report by Paola Bensi (UCSC) based on MEDIA Salles questionnaires distributed to the participants at the “DigiTraining Plus 2009”

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New statistics on digital sites and screens situation (DLP cinema or 4K)
in Europe as at 30 June 2009

Acceleration in the increase of Europe’s digital screens:
they now number 2,602, with a 70% rise in the first six months of 2009

Europe’s digital screens are continuing to increase in number, in fact they are accelerating: the survey carried out every six months by MEDIA Salles shows that as at 30 June 2009 the number of digital projectors fitted with DLP Cinema or 4K technology had risen to 2,602, with a growth rate of 70% compared to 1st January of the same year. A decidedly significant increase when considering that in the first six month of 2009 alone, the growth rate for the whole of 2008 (+71%) was almost equalled. In absolute terms this year digital systems have been installed at a rate of almost 180 a month, whilst in 2008 the corresponding figure was a little over 50. The number of screens fitted with digital projection technology has thus grown to around 7.5% of total screen numbers in Europe – Russia included.
The spread of digital projectors throughout Europe does, however, remain patchy, confirming once again that in all aspects of their cinema industries – infrastructures and cinema-going styles – each European market has its own characteristics.

Widespread growth but at different rates
Compared to the growth rate in the first half of 2009 – 70% as has already been said – clear differences are to be seen. Croatia, Estonia, Slovenia, Malta, Iceland and Latvia remain immobile, whilst Luxemburg (+5%), Bulgaria (+12%), Belgium (+16%), Portugal (+16%), Norway (+21%) and Ireland (+24%) stop well below the average, as does one of the biggest markets on the continent in terms of admissions, Germany, which sees an increase of 28% in its digital equipment.
Slightly below or above average come the Netherlands (+38%), another of the major European markets, i.e. the United Kingdom (+43%), as well as Switzerland (+46%), Denmark (+50%), Austria (+52%), Poland (+55%), Turkey (+65%), Romania (+71%), Russia (+ 79%) and Greece (+88%). A leap forward is to be seen instead on three of the largest markets in terms of audiences: Italy (+129%), France (+136%), Spain (+224%) and smaller countries such as Finland (+125%), Sweden (+150%), Hungary (+186%) and the surprising Czech Republic (+1,150%) which has grown from 2 to 25 digital screens in just six months.

The incidence of digital in screens as a whole is also patchy
There are also quite distinct differences regarding the degree to which digital technology has penetrated each country’s overall number of cinemas. At the head of the list comes Luxemburg where as many as 85% of cinemas have adopted the new technology. Compared to the European average of 7.5%, large differences are to be seen in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and Romania, countries where digital records an incidence slightly above or below 20%. Iceland and Norway stand at around 15%, whilst the United Kingdom is at around 12%, France around 11% and Portugal and Russia around 9%. Finland, Poland, Slovenia and Switzerland are in line with the average for the continent. Amongst the territories coming below this average are Italy (5%), Spain and Germany (4%).

Growth is affected by 3D but not only
The engine of growth in this acceleration, which took place in the first half of 2009, is certainly 3D cinema: the American industry has substantially respected the calendar of releases announced, audiences have proved receptive and willing to pay more for a ticket to take advantage of the novelty, exhibitors have decided to invest in the technology that enables them to offer the new type of product. The incidence of screens equipped with a 3D system with respect to the overall number of digital screens has risen more or less everywhere to reach 55% in Europe overall.
Alongside this phenomenon, however, comes the launch or continuation of conversions to digital in whole chains and – often - whole complexes (this is the case of the CGR in France), or the appearance of digital on markets that have been totally lacking in this technology up to the present.
In the first half of 2009 the “new enrolments” have been Cyprus (1 screen), Lithuania (4), the Serb Republic (2), Slovakia (4). Thus, the total of Europe’s digitalized countries now amounts to 34.

© Copyright MEDIA Salles

* This table slightly modifies the one published by MEDIA Salles on 21 October 2009, during the European Workshop “The Digital Cinema Revolution”, held in Rome.

For comparison, click here to see the table showing the situation as at 1st January 2009

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All different, all digital
by Elisabetta Brunella

This column hosts portraits of cinemas in Europe and the rest of the world which are quite different from one another but have in common the fact that they have all adopted digital projection





Number of projectors




No. of 3D screens

Supplier of 3D technology











Finnkino’s Tennispalatsi

In the shape of a giant indoor-tennis centre, in actual fact the cinema complex with the largest audiences in the whole of the Scandinavian region: this is the Kamppi Tennispalatsi, at the heart of Helsinki’s shopping area, just a few steps away from the Esplanade, the fashionable place to go for a stroll in the Finnish capital. With its 14 screens, it draws a million and a half spectators every year, despite its modest and impersonal appearance, particularly when we consider that we are within walking distance of buildings that are icons of twentieth-century architecture, such as E. Saarinen’s central station and the House of Finland by A. Aalto. The “location”, the quality of sound and vision, together with a clever marketing strategy, seem to be the keys to the success of this urban multiplex, the flower in the buttonhole of Finnkino, the exhibition company which covers around 60% of the Finnish market. Tennispalatsi boasts some surprising records: its number 1 theatre is not only the largest in the country (703 seats) but has recently gone 100% digital. In fact, the 35mm projector has yielded to a Christie 2K which is also equipped for 3D presentations. To make it even more special, Finnkino has fitted this theatre with an area corresponding to the “royal box” of the most prestigious theatres, re-baptized the “presidential suite” in republican style. For those who want to experience the thrill of seeing a film in this sector for 17 privileged people, separated from the rest of the audience by a pane of sound-proof glass and equipped with an independent sound installation, it is not so much blue blood as a bit of luck that is needed. There is a storm of bookings – particularly from companies, who frequently combine the screening with a cocktail party or social event in the adjacent Vip Lounge and lobbies – and 2 days out of 3 the suite is occupied during the business season, from mid August to mid June. This is a decidedly interesting piece of business for Finnkino, considering that the overall price for the 17 exclusive seats (with limited access) starts at 600 euros, to which the cost of a reception must be added. With a hardly negligible ‘extra’: a private cocktail party is the only occasion on which it is possible to drink alcohol at the cinema.

The full version of this article was published in Italian in the “Giornale dello Spettacolo” no. 15, 1st September 2009.

Finnkino’s Tennispalatsi, Helsinki

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News on the development of digitalisation in the world
by Marcello Mazzucotelli

Italy: distributors and exhibitors sign an historical agreement on digital cinema
An agreement between Italian exhibitors and distributors for the launch of a financial model for the digital conversion based on the payment of a VPF without a third party involved has been signed on Tuesday 10 November. “Distributors – said Michele Napoli, Representative of distributors at Anica (the Italian Association of Cinema and Audiovisual Industries) – will give exhibitors the opportunity to retrieve 75% of the costs that they will meet to install a 2K digital cinema system DCI compliant”.

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XDC signs the first digital cinema deployment agreements with independent distributors in Europe
XDC, one of the leading European companies providing services for digital cinema, has signed agreements with the Austrian Polyfilm Verleih and Portuguese Valentim de Carvalho Multimedia (VCM) that will contribute to the VPF roll-out that has begun in Austria and Portugal.
The two distributors will supply their films in digital format to Austrian and Portuguese exhibitors and will contribute to the financing of digital projection systems conforming to the DCI requirements.

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The Space and Arts Alliance Media sign a deal for digital cinema roll-out in Italy
The newly formed circuit The Space, Italy’s biggest cinema chain, with 24 sites and 242 screens, born from the merger of Warner Village and Medusa Cinema, has just signed a deal with Arts Alliance Media, provider of digital cinema technology, content and deployment all over Europe, to supply and integrate digital cinema projection systems across The Space’s 24 sites in Italy, thanks to a VPF-based agreement. Arts Alliance Media will be providing also satellite systems for each of the 24 cinemas, in collaboration with Arqiva Satellite & Media, for the screening of live alternative content. The first deployed digital screens will be operational before Christmas 2009. An additional 50 screens will be installed within the first quarter of 2010.

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XpanD and Scrabble Entertainment sign India’s first 3D cinema deployment agreement
XpanD, worldwide 3D cinema technology provider, has signed an agreement with Scrabble Entertainment Pvt Ltd, India’s leading company in digital conversion, as the 3D provider targeting a roll-out of 100 screens with the first phase commencing November 2009. Thanks to its VPF model, Scrabble Entertainment forecasts to install over 200 systems annually. Maria Costeira, XpanD’s CEO, declared: “This, by far, has been one of our most exciting announcements as the first 3D company to penetrate India’s digital marketplace”.

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Ireland: Digital Finance announces digital cinema roll-out agreements with 4 major Hollywood Studios
Digital Finance Ltd of Tipperary, Ireland, a company engaged in the financing of digital cinema systems by VPF model, announced the signing of a digital cinema deployment agreement with four major Hollywood Studios: the Walt Disney Company, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Pictures International.
These agreements will enable Digital Finance Ltd. to facilitate the conversion of cinemas from film to digital projection throughout the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK, where 65 screens have already been deployed.

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Nevafilm announces 250 digital screens by the end of 2009 in Russia
Oleg Berezin, Managing Director of Nevafilm, the Russian company specialised in digital cinema services, who is going to be a guest speaker at the “DigiTraining Plus 2010” in Helsinki, revealed to MEDIA Salles that the research office of Nevafilm expects around 250 digital screens to be active by the end of 2009 in Russia.

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MEDIA Salles’ contacts and address

MEDIA Salles
Piazza Luigi di Savoia, 24 - 20124 Milano - Italy
Tel.: +39.02.6739781 - Fax: +39.02.6690410
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