FOCUS ON ITALY: the challenges
of digital for the Italian cinema industry. 1,000 screens have changed
to the new technologies, 2,500 have yet to be digitalized
Between the end of October and beginnings
of November, first at Eurovisioni and then at the Rome Film Festival,
several conferences were held in Italy on the digitalization of cinemas.
At these meetings some advance news was presented from a highly interesting
study, carried out by MEDIA Salles and the European Audiovisual Observatory,
entitled “The European Digital Cinema Report”, which analyzes the costs
and benefits of this technological transformation and the way digital
roll-out is progressing in European countries.
In particular, attention was drawn to the fact that the digital shift
involves high costs and may come to even 3 or 4 times the cost of traditional
35 mm equipment.
From the debate amongst the numerous and authoritative figures from the
cinema industry present and from the data provided by the analysts from
the European Audiovisual Observatory, it emerged that, although digitalization
represents a great opportunity for the cinema industry in general, at
present considerable problems of a financial and economic nature are preventing
small and medium-sized exhibitors from proceeding to digitalize their
theatres. This is why in Italy around 2,500 screens have yet to be digitalized.
From several sides the observation was made that for these companies –
faced with the considerable financial effort required and with the higher
running, maintenance and amortization costs – as things now stand there
appears to be no appreciable gain making the investment economically interesting
or accessible, even in terms of a reduction in the cost of work.
Nicola Borrelli, Director General for the Cinema at the Ministry of Cultural
Affairs, pointed out with extreme concern that Italy is one of the big
European markets with the lowest rate of penetration by digital and that
in 2011 very few new systems have been installed.
We can therefore state that the digital roll-out in Italy is practically
at a standstill.
If this situation is not promptly tackled, there will be the risk of seeing
many traditional cinemas closing down, the market being drastically re-dimensioned
and consequently a crisis for national film production, whose films are
programmed mainly in this type of theatre.
In the interests of the entire cinema industry we must therefore remove,
as quickly as possible, the obstacles that stand in the way of small and
medium exhibitors adopting digital technology at present.
This means facilitating investments, both by coming up with a formula
that allows small and medium-sized theatres to actually benefit from tax
credit, and by foreseeing further, specific incentives for this type of
To the same purpose, the agreement signed between exhibitors and distributors
must be reviewed, so that everyone can make use of VPF, which is at present
unlikely to be accessible to small and medium-sized movie theatres.
Yet all this is not enough unless - in view of the fact that the higher
box-office deriving from 3D is starting to decline - some prospect of
practical use in justifying the investment is offered at the same time.
In this respect, it is essential to make sure that distribution, in its
own interests, allows so-called “multi-programming” in cinemas, in other
words the possibility of projecting different films on the same day in
different time slots with a consequent increase in the number of spectators
and thus in box-office.
Vice President ANEC
Vice President MEDIA Salles