International Edition No. 22 - year 2 - 11 May 2007


MEDIA Salles at Cannes 2007
Save the date: 21 May

Digital cinema at the doorstep
by Jens Rykær, President of MEDIA Salles

For almost two decades we have been discussing what has been characterized as the most revolutionary event in film since sound – digital projection of films in cinemas. A flood of questions have erupted from these discussions, tests, demonstrations and the general promotion of this new technology that will eventually send the traditional 35mm-projection machine to the dump or to the science museum.

Many of these questions have by now found an answer. Talking about pure picture quality on the big screen even the most critical 35mm fundamentalist has to admit that the combination of the TI-chip and brilliantly manufactured projectors has solved the problems concerning light, contrast and colour saturation. User-friendly panels/computer programs are here as well, even though the phrase “just push a button” is maybe a bit too light-footed.

It also seems as if a global format will find its standard – 2K. The Americans (DCI) run for this standard and international business will have to follow if it wants American product in its cinemas. At least this is what might be read between the lines. The current British try-out instituted by the British Film Council, for example, has consequently settled for 2K. For smaller screens this seems a bit over the top but so far the message is clear: 1.3K is considered too modest by the major players – the Hollywood studios.
(Click here to read the whole article)

“DigiTraining Plus:
New Technologies for European Cinemas”
held in Kuurne, Belgium,
from 28 March to 1st April 2007



Updated course programme
including the speakers’ presentations

To download them, please click on the speakers names in the course programme, available through the above link.




Ad Weststrate: the viewpoint of Unic on digital cinema

What is the position of the organisation representing the professional exhibitors’ associations of the various European countries? Ad Weststrate, President of Unic, told about it during the course. Aware that the real development of digital cinema is imminent, European exhibitors aim at getting together with colleagues from US and Canada, with a view to facing together those issues linked to what is announced as one of the most important revolutions in the cinema’s history.
Among these are certification of digital equipment, profitability for the whole cinema value chain, including the cinemas, the business and finance models.
Herebelow the entire talk by Ad Weststrate follows.

Dear colleagues and dear friends,

On behalf of Unic, I thank you for your invitation.

As you know, Unic, International Union of Cinemas, is the union of national associations of cinema owners of fifteen mainly European countries, (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Israël, Hungary).

Since 2000, companies such as Europalaces, UGC, Kinepolis Group and Utopolis have also been members of our organisation.

Unic represents about 30,000 screens with more than 950 million annual admissions covering about 400 million inhabitants.

Most of Unic’s members represent the majority of cinemas in their country, from independently-owned cinemas to circuits, together with subsidised and art cinemas.

Several times a year we meet with our colleagues from the United States and Canada.

It’s a pleasure and a necessity to meet several times a year in Europe or in the United States.

This cooperation is essential for the exchange of information between our two continents and for increased collaboration on issues of common interest such as digital cinema, piracy or windows because exhibitors all over the world face the same problems.

I Attendance

In terms of attendance, the year 2006 was positive in Europe after a disappointing 2005. The attendance increased in almost all the member states +7.9% in Germany, +10% in Austria, +7.5% in France, +7.7% in Belgium, 12% in Finland, +9% in the Netherlands, +5.3% in Norway.
There  are  some  exceptions  with  the  UK -4.9%, Hungary -3.9% and Spain -5.1%.
(Click here to read the whole text of the speech)

Kinepolis Bruges at the forefront of technology

Visits to cinemas equipped for digital projection have been one of the basic components of the course “DigiTraining Plus: New Technologies for European Cinemas” since the first edition in 2004.
In 2007 the venues visited were the Kinepolis in Bruges and the Imagix in Tournai.

Opened on 7 July 2006, the Bruges Kinepolis, situated not far from the town centre, offers eight theatres for a total of 1,605 seats. Three screens are already equipped with digital projectors, made by Barco, with Dolby servers. As its Manager, Diether Thielemans, explained, this complex was designed to meet the demands of the contemporary spectator who looks for ideal conditions for watching the projection of a film, but also a place to enjoy a communal experience and to be entertained. In this perspective it becomes important for the cinema to have spaces where magazines and dvds or the posters of favourite films can be bought, or simply spaces to relax in whilst reading a good book or munching popcorn on a comfortable sofa. To satisfy these demands, the Bruges site offers the Kinepolis shop together with the CréaCafé, where it is also possible to buy salads, pizzas and pasta dishes, as well as an area reserved for play stations, where clients can enjoy playing with a game pad, whilst waiting for the beginning of a film. Kinepolis also reserves a digital screen for these games, which gives fans of videogames the opportunity to compete against one another with the latest models provided by PS3. The videogame business has, in fact, experienced strong growth over the last few years: recent surveys show that the play station has proved to be the favourite form of entertainment with young people. The technological innovations of these cinemas do not stop here, though. Ticket purchasing and the choice of seats, for example, can be carried out either from home, using a system of online payment, or by making use of the special self-service columns placed in the foyer of the cinema. This system allows the spectator to avoid long lines at the box office and the exhibitor to save on staff costs. In addition, a system based on sensors fitted below the seats allows the box office staff to check on special monitors to see if the seats sold and the seats occupied actually coincide. When showing participants at the DGT course how her product operates, Lzhou Pei-Zhi, Director General of Quick Sensor NV (the company that supplies the mechanism), stressed both the money saved and the benefits for the spectator who feels freer of controls.
(Click here to read the whole article)

Some photos of Kinepolis in Bruges

On the morning of 27 March, the Bruges Kinepolis hosted the digital screening of a selection of European films prepared by XDC for the participants at the "DigiTraining Plus: New Technologies for European Cinemas" course.
Amongst the titles were Changes, Das Parfum Die Geschichte eines Mörders, Silence becomes you, Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek. Click on the titles to see the fact cards.


Monica Törnblom
Programmer and Head of Bio Kontrast, Folkets Hus och Parker, Sweden

Folkets Hus och Parker (FHP), The National Federation of People’s Parks and Community Centres, are unique in the world with the basic idea that everyone should have somewhere to meet, experience culture of different kinds and interact with their community. Within our 692 venues there are 240 cinemas and 245 screens. Most of them are situated in smaller towns and villages with between 200 and 20,000 inhabitants.

In 1999 FHP realised that digital cinema was an important transition and that we had to take action if we wanted our cinemas to survive. For the next two years we gathered information and prepared for a pilot project. In September 2001 we had our first public screening of a commercial film in Smedjebacken, one of seven pilot cinemas. During 2005 and 2006 the first cinemas were accompanied by another 33 of ours and 17 run by other smaller exhibitors thanks to a new lease. Apart from four 2K screens, all are 1.4K. For FHP, digital cinema isn’t a pilot project anymore but a daily and very real business.
(Click here to read the whole article)

The group of participants at the 2007 “DigiTraining Plus” course

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