Industry Report: Digital
Europe on threshold of digital fracture
by Fabien Lemercier
- The transition to digital projection in European theatres was the subject of a speech given on Saturday by Véronique Cayla, director general of the National Film Centre (CNC), as part of the Dijon Film Meetings organised by the ARP.
Calling on territorial collectivities (cities, departments and regions) to study the issue in order to protect France’s excellent network of cinemas, Cayla reminded those present that the CNC is able to provide them with a tool for the economic simulation of the financing conditions of the changeover to digital projection.
Developed with the intention of "enabling all movie theatres to convert to digital", the tool identifies the costs and revenue (savings) induced by the transition to digital, according to detailed parameters: size of establishment, type of unreleased films screened (number of prints, power of the distributor), distribution costs (master digital, print, transport, storage, key management), exhibition costs (projector, server, installation, maintenance) and financing scenarios. The CNC can thus provide an accurate estimation, theatre by theatre, and define the possible contributions from different market stakeholders.
The equipping of theatres is at this stage expected to cost €80,000 per screen, €10,000 per establishment and €4000 per projection room. A total of 20% of these expenses will be borne by the exhibitor.
Confident about France’s conversion to digital, Cayla nonetheless said she felt "more concerned about the rest of Europe". She commented: "Until now, people haven’t taken an interest in this problem even though theatres will disappear along with their specific programming". She continued: "It’s all the more sad given that in many Eastern European countries, there are few theatres. However, it would be a great opportunity for film circulation. We have to put pressure on Europe and encourage digital technology in theatres."
Cayla’s speech should be reflected on in the light of data recently published by Hungarian distributor Budapest Film. The company orchestrated the domestic release on September 11 of Kornel Mundruczo’s Delta [+see also:
interview: Kornél Mundruczó
interview: Orsi Tóth
film profile] (unveiled in competition at the latest Cannes Film Festival) on four 35mm prints and 15 E-Cinema screens (digital distribution whose performance is inferior to the minimum international standards for digital projection).
The excellent results in terms of admissions in a context where auteur films are usually released on very small print-runs have led the distributor to repeat the experience with the release of Attila Gigor’s The Investigator on October 2 (11 35mm prints and 12 E-Cinema screens).