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Venture Seeks to Give Digital Cinema a Boost

March 08, 2001|MICHAEL A. HILTZIK

Movie film processor Technicolor and Qualcomm Inc. unveiled a plan Wednesday to "jump start" digital cinema.

Technicolor Digital Cinema, a joint venture by the two companies, plans to finance the installation of digital projectors in 1,000 theaters around the country.

In return, the company plans to charge the theater owners an average of 12.5 cents per ticket sold.

The new venture also said it will discount charges to the major studios to convert films to the digital format in hopes that will encourage more digital movie releases.

But the plan does not appear to address one major obstacle to wide commercial roll-out of digital cinema. Studios would reap savings from the conversion because they would no longer have to make thousands of copies of popular films. But the theaters would have to shell out more than $150,000 per screen to install digital projection systems.

Asked if Technicolor Digital Cinema could guarantee that the studios would share the savings with theater owners, Chief Executive David Elliott replied, "That's not our issue."

Camarillo-based Technicolor, the largest processor of motion picture films, is being acquired by Thomson Multimedia of France in a deal expected to close soon.

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