Irish cinemas go all-digital

World first etc.

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Ireland is to become the first country in the world to have completely digital cinema.

Digital Cinema Limited (DCL), the Irish subsidiary of the American digital cinema technology firm Avica Europe, will install new technology into 500 screens in 105 sites throughout the country at a cost of €40m, making Ireland the first country in the world to convert all cinemas to a digital format from 35mm film.

This technology from Avica will enable cinemas to download new films to a computer server via satellite at the press of a button. Advantages of the new system include better picture quality and the elimination of flickers and scratches that develop over time as 35mm film degrades.

"We've all gone to the cinema and seen scratches and little flickers on the screen as the film gets older," Kevin Cummins, director of operations with DCL, told ElectricNews.Net. "With the digital format there is no difference in the quality from the first screening to the thousandth screening."

Irish cinemagoers have the second highest level of cinema attendance in Europe, with an average of 4.5 visits each per year. This fact and the manageable number of cinemas in the country made Ireland the perfect choice for Avica as the firm plans its move into the European cinema market.

"Ireland is the perfect pilot test site for a project like this," said Cummins. "Eighty per cent of the movies shown in Irish cinemas are Hollywood movies, along with the fact that we are an English-speaking nation and have a relatively small number of cinemas makes it the ideal choice."

The new technology will make it easier for smaller cinemas to get faster access to new movies rather than having to wait for bigger cinemas to finish their run of a specific movie. It is likely too that the cost of movies in digital format will reduce in time, according to Cummins.

The project kicked off on 1 March 2005 and Cummins says all 105 sites will be equipped with the new technology within 12 months. Following that, DCL will roll out the technology in a number of other European cities who are already showing great interest in the technology, Cummins said. ®


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