Screenvision, one of the nation's leading cinema advertising companies, signed an exclusive, multiyear deal with National Amusements Inc. to invest more than $10 million in high-definition digital equipment for more than 1,000 screens.
New York-based Screenvision said it would begin to roll out by year's end its satellite, networking and projection systems designed to deliver advertising, cartoons and sports for viewing before a film starts.
Screenvision said the systems would be compatible with digital cinema projectors showing feature films.
Last week, National Amusements, which operates under the names Cinema de Lux, Showcase Cinemas and Multiplex Cinemas in the U.S., said it would partner with Thomson, the parent company of Technicolor Digital Cinema, to place state-of-the-art digital movie projectors at 120 screens in 14 theaters, including locations in Los Angeles, Boston and New York.
The Massachusetts-based theater chain, controlled by media mogul Sumner M. Redstone and his family, operates more than 1,500 screens in the U.S., Britain, Latin America and Russia. Eventually, National Amusements hopes to offer alternative programming such as simulcasts of baseball games, concerts and children's programming.
"National Amusements is focused on reinventing the moviegoing experience," said Shari Redstone, president of the company. "This partnership is an important step in that process and allows us to re-create preshow entertainment and advertising."
Screenvision plans to develop a new, more advanced movie preshow program in collaboration with the exhibitor.
Currently, its preshow includes music and advertising as well as themed shows for the awards season, Halloween and other holidays. Screenvision previously announced digital preshow deals with CinemaStar Luxury Theaters Inc. and UltraStar Cinemas, both in Southern California.
"Our digital system enables us to work in partnership with National Amusements in terms of evolving the cinema experience," said Matthew Kearney, chief executive of Screenvision. "We believe we are very much at the cutting edge.... We are going to be seeing more and more feature film systems ... within the next five-year time frame."
The biggest hurdle in digital cinema's growth has been who will pay for state-of-the-art projection systems for the nation's 36,000 screens.
Last month, digital cinema got a boost when three of the nation's biggest movie theater chains, Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment Inc. and Cinemark USA Inc., announced plans to raise as much as $1 billion to convert one-third of all U.S. theater screens from film to electronic projection.