Reg. Trib. Milano n. 418 del 02.07.2007
Direttore responsabile: Elisabetta Brunella

  International Edition No. 64 - year 5 - 1 September 2010 


Dear readers,

to the appointment in Venice we shall be bringing “DiGiTalk”, our most recent tool for information on the digital transition, which, according to the MEDIA Salles tradition, is based on sharing the experiences of those who have invested resources and competences in the new technology, and on the publication of statistics that are as up-to-date and reliable as possibile. Facts and figures available to those who wish to understand which path the future of the cinema and the cinemas is taking. You are also invited to take note of the dates for the next “DiGiTraining Plus”, the unique training initiative which, since 2003, has been guiding Europe’s professional players through the challenges and opportunities offered by digital technology to the cinema industry. From 29 June to 3 July 2011, for the seventh time MEDIA Salles will be bringing together those who have already experienced the change and those who wish to meet the new scenario with the necessary awareness and knowledge.
Elisabetta Brunella
Secretary General
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During the 67th Venice Film Festival, Elisabetta Brunella, MEDIA Salles Secretary General, will present the 2011 edition of the course “DigiTraining Plus: European Cinemas Experiencing New Technologies” on 4 September at the initiative “ART CINEMA – ACTION + MANAGEMENT” organized by the CICAE.

MEDIA Salles will made available its most recent publication on digital cinema:


a streamlined volume that sums up the main content of the course “DigiTraining Plus: European Cinemas Experiencing New Technologies”, held last February, together with a series of statistics and graphs on digital projection in Europe and throughout the world.


Cliccare qui per sfogliare la versione online di "DiGiTalk"
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The eighth edition of the
“DigiTraining Plus:
European Cinemas
New Technologies”
course will take place
from 29 June to 3 July 2011

Further information will be published
on our website, at the page dedicated
to the course:


Pilvi Burman
FS Film Oy

DCP, KDM, NGB, OMG: how am I ever going to learn all this?
Those were my thoughts two years ago when I started working as Production Manager at FS Film Oy and found myself sending out ‘DC Readiness Forms’ to theaters that had started to digitize at an increasing pace. I had been taking care of 35mm print production and coordination for most of my working career with different distributors in Finland, but this was an unknown playground. Most of the terms on the readiness forms were beyond my understanding and I was on thin ice.
However, I was lucky, having been in the business for quite a while and having always had good contacts with the technicians dealing with the new digital equipment in theaters. At the beginning I could always call up one of them and they never seemed to get tired of even the most stupid questions. It was also comforting to know that my colleagues at other distributors were in the same situation as me. Sharing information has always been one of the greatest things we cherish in the Finnish film distributors’ small community.
The terms DCP and KDM were totally abstract until I made an excursion to a projection booth to see what happens to the hard drive once it arrives at the theater and how a DCP and a KDM meet. It helps to understand things when you see them with your own eyes – even if it is something you don’t need to learn how to use in practice.
Having learned from my own experience that the new terminology in a foreign language may seem frightening at the beginning, I have tried to be of help to theater owners in Finland who are trying to make their way through the jungle of readiness forms from different studios. I have also tried to be available for them if they have problems with receiving DCPs and KDMs. I have found it very important to have someone to turn to when you have a question and I must say that the people behind the impersonal title ‘keymanager’ have been very friendly and helpful.
Dealing with digital film distribution has not made me an IT-expert even though I have learned a lot. Little by little the ordering and production process of digital prints and trailers and KDMs along with the traditional 35mm material production have become routine procedures. This far I have ordered digital material from one major studio and one smaller studio. Within a year or so there will be more studios I’ll be ordering digital prints from.
The people at the studios may also be dealing with a digital release for the first time in their lives, so it is good to remember that this is a learning process for everybody involved.
As soon as we think we know what we are doing, there will be a whole new ballgame waiting for us. Time will tell whether it is called SmartJog or something else.
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The American digital summer


It is called “Spud” and is located in Driggs, Idaho, at the foot of the majestic Grand Teton Mountains, has been in operation for 57 years and is faithful to a 1950s style whilst placing the odds on avant-garde technology: on 9 July it became the first truly digital drive-in.
Unlike other drive-ins which use DVD, Spud has installed a Barco projector with DLP Cinema technology and will soon be ready for 3D. The drive-in’s digital age began with a double feature – ““Robin Hood” and “Despicable Me” – which drew a record audience consisting of hundreds of cinema fans.
Spud's Chief Operating Officer, Keith Zednik, commented: “Amazing, like nothing we have seen before! The quality offered by digital projection will allow us to operate for another fifty years at least. We shall continue to offer films but develop to an even greater extent an aspect that is characteristic of our drive-in, which is also a centre for entertainment and sports initiatives and a favourite venue for social events.”
John Fithian, President of NATO, the American exhibitors’ association, commented: “Drive-ins are an important part of the cinema business. We are pleased to see that there are digital solutions suitable for such big screens. We are confident that the phenomenon will continue to flourish in the digital age and congratulate Spud on being the first in America to offer their customers an experience of this nature.”
Concerning the technical aspects, a significant statement comes from Roger Bocket, owner of Heartland Theatre Service, the company that handled the installation: “The result was better than foreseen: if anyone had had doubts about installing a digital system in a drive-in, Spud’s experience cannot fail to reassure them.”
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Last June Empire Theatres Limited, the second largest exhibition company in Canada, with headquarters in Nova Scotia, signed an agreement with Barco for the digitization of over 300 screens. Installation will begin in the autumn and continue in 2011.
Empire Theatres, which has been in operation for over 30 years, possesses 50 cinemas for a total of 380 screens: of these 50 had already been fitted with Barco projectors and equipped for 3D.
For the new order Empire Theatres has selected several models from Barco’s Series II: the DP2K-15Cs, the DP2K-20Cs as well as the DP2K-32B which can be upgraded to 4K, combined with a Doremi server.
Commenting on the choice, Valerie Ryan, Vice President for Empire Theatres’ development and real estate, stated: “Barco's wide range allows us to put the right projector on the right screen. This means cost savings for the digital transition in our chain of cinemas.”
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Located in DeLand, Florida, Epic Theatres is an exhibition company which, although far from reaching the huge numbers of the leading U.S. chains, is experiencing a phase of considerable development.
Founded in 1947 and operating in three states, at the end of June Epic Theatres opened its seventh complex, bringing its total screen numbers to 81. The new multiplex, situated at Palm Coast, Florida, has been designed to offer digital projection and 3D on all fourteen of its screens, which have been equipped by Barco. Clint DeMarsh, Vice President of purchasing, announced that over the next 18 months Epic Theatres will be opening another two complexes, also to be fully digital.

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All different, all digital
by Elisabetta Brunella

This column hosts portraits of cinemas in Europe and the rest of the world which are quite different from one another but have in common the fact that they have all adopted digital projection.





Number of projectors




No. of 3D screens

Supplier of 3D technology


Muvico Rosemont 18

Rosemont, IL

Muvico Theaters







Muvico Rosemont 18

To recreate the atmosphere of the ‘twenties “movie palaces”: this is Muvico’s purpose in building the Rosemont complex in Illinois, overlooking Chicago’s O’Hare airport. The decorated façade, the marble and woodwork inside, the mediterranean views “painted” on the side walls in the theatres are intended to recall the luxury of the cinema’s golden age and mark the difference to the contemporary taste of today’s multiplexes. However, when it comes to technology, Muvico’s main aim is to have the latest. Inaugurated in September 2007, this Megaplex, seating almost 4000, is in fact the first that the Florida-based company running a total of 154 screens in 9 different venues has decided to equip entirely with Sony 4K projectors. “We have been the forerunners,” says Ben Volpert, Senior Operations Manager of the complex, “not only here in the United States but in the whole world. Suffice it to say that it was to us Sony delivered their number 7 projector, following the six installed in Japan!” Obviously the offer of 3D is not lacking, on 4 screens fitted with RealD equipment including a choice of glasses: one for adults and one for children. The 18 screens – offering over 600 screenings per week – mainly serve customers consisting of families and young people, only partly coming from Rosemont itself, a town with around 5,000 inhabitants famous mostly for its hotels, used by passengers at Chicago’s main airport. Spectators come in from the suburbs of the Windy City using the subway – there is a blue line stop only a short distance from the cinema – or after a 10/20-miles drive. At the Muvico they know they are going to find special comfort – the seats are almost 4 inces wider than average – but what attracts them most is the quality of projection. “We have run surveys amongst our customers: a large number of them say that the picture is far clearer in our cinema and the sound is better. Maybe they can’t explain why but they certainly appreciate the difference,” states Ben Volpert. This comes together with an environment that is considered safe and reliable: parents arrange for one of them to take a group of youngsters to the Muvico by car and pick them up in a few hours’ time. In the meantime they will have seen a film, enjoyed themselves in the digital games room and eaten some popcorn or pizza. For those who are looking instead for a higher quality gastronomic experience – not necessarily linked to viewing a film – the Muvico offers the Bogart’s bar and grill on the second floor. The greater prestige of this area is marked by the change from carpeting to parquet, whilst on the walls silent films run on digital screens. Here the restaurant, seating 150, serves the “favorites” of U.S. cooking, from Buffalo chicken wings to “penne pasta”. For those over twenty-one the Muvico also offers a lounge bar with a wide variety of cocktails and alcoholic drinks, including 27 different types of beer, amongst which the Italian Nastro Azzurro. And if all this were not sufficient to make the evening into a special experience, spectators can opt for the “Premier Theatre” version: leaving their car more or less at the threshold of the cinema, a valet will deal with the parking and they will receive free popcorn and be accompanied to the upper part of the theatre, where they will view the film apart from the rest of the audience from the comfort of soft “love seating” sofas. “The average citizen is treated like royalty” was the promise of the movie palaces in the good old days: for 20 dollars – instead of ten – the “Muvico treatment” is still within reach.

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News on the development of digitalisation in Europe
by Alessia Grandi


Created last year in order to acknowledge the film that has made the most creative use of stereoscopic 3D, the Persol 3D award returns to the 2010 edition of the Venice Film Festival. Awarded to The Hole, by Joe Dante, in 2009, this is the first international award of its kind and confirms Venice’s faith in the effectiveness of this means of expression.
“3D technology cannot be labelled a passing fad; fortunately 3D is here to stay,” declared Festival Director Marco Müller.
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2010 will be remembered as the first live 3D World Cup in history. In Europe, Open Sky, an Italian company specialized in the distribution of digital content via satellite, broadcast 25 games for a total of 75 hours live in 3D.
Around 400 cinemas in 21 countries were equipped with a satellite reception kit especially for this event, an achievement requiring a considerable technical effort, since 270 installations were completed in the last two months.
The World Cup Final was broadcast simultaneously in 222 cinemas, setting up a new European record.
“Open Sky used three AB3 satellite transponders, with commentating in French, Italian and English and as well as technical efficiency, set themselves the objective of improving the 3D filming and direction, using a growing number of film cameras, which increased in number event after event,” remarked Walter Munarini, the Company’s Director.
“The best results were achieved in Italy thanks to the exhaustive service provided: commentating in Italian, live advertising and a turnaround teleport that ensured broadcasting on the final day, despite a violent storm.”
The “first time” for a World Cup in 3D was a special milestone in the history of alternative content for the cinema but has not remained an isolated episode, since other important events, both sports, such as the Roland Garros men’s finals, and music, such as the “BIG4” concert (Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer) broadcast from Sofia in 120 cinemas, and the ballet "La Petite Danseuse”, produced by the Paris Opera and seen in 25 cinemas, were offered in the same period with the same system, live by satellite in 3D.
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Cineplex has signed an agreement with XDC regarding the digitization of 451 screens, using the VPF formula. The German company, which will be using Film Ton Technik for the installation, also intends equipping itself for 3D projection and the offer of live entertainment events. 
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Last month, Kinopolis, the fifth largest exhibition chain in Germany, announced that by 2011 all 123 of its screens would be digital.
The installation of the new systems will be handled by XDC and Film Ton Technik.

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The German Minister of Culture and the Media (BKM), Bernd Neumann, has presented a proposal for encouraging the digitization of cinemas in Germany and in particular to ensure that the transition to the new technology will not exclude any of the existing theatres.

Following this plan the less profitable cinemas, such as art house venues or those operating in small places, will nonetheless be able to convert to digital.
Neumann places his trust the “Länder” to start up similar programmes in a spirit of collaboration, so that distributors, who are to all effects the greatest beneficiaries of the digital transition, “are obliged to make their economic contribution.”
For the moment the BKM has already included four million euros in his budget.
The new initiative should make it possible to overcome the stalemate in which the German cinema sector has been languishing since 2009, when disagreements between the parties made it impossible to start up a nation-wide plan for the digitization of cinemas.

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While MEDIA Salles elaborates the situation at 30 June 2010, confirmation comes from Italian exhibitors that the numbers of digital screens have continued to increase: at the end of April they were beyond the 500 mark.
After a late start compared to other markets, in Italy the digital transition experienced an authentic boom in 2009.
It is sufficient to recall that 80 digital projectors had been counted by MEDIA Salles in Italy at 1st January 2009 , whilst at 30 June the same year the number had risen to 183, then leaping to 428 at 1st January 2010.
When communicating the figures at the end of April 2010, Paolo Protti, President of Anec – the national association of cinema exhibitors – stated that overstepping the 500-screen threshold is confirmation that cinema exhibition is the key element in the Italian audiovisual industry.
Carlo Bernaschi, President of Anem – the national association of multiplex exhibitors - is of the same opinion: “Thanks to digital even city theatres will be able to locate new directions and strategies, from the possibility of offering quality programming to the offer of alternative content.”
Looking to the future, Richard Borg, CEO of Universal in Italy, thinks it possible that in the wake of this recent development, complete digitalization of the Italian theatres will be completed by 2012.
Lombardy and Lazio are the most digitalized regions in Italy, respectively with 70 and 64 screens. Rome confirms its position as capital with 31 screens, followed by Milan with 18.

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The announcement came last July of the creation of, a body that will be devoted to simplifying and speeding up the digital transition of distributors and cinemas operating in Holland. arises out of the joint forces of various organizations in the Dutch cinema industry: NVB, the exhibitors’ association, NVF, which brings together the distributors, and EYE, the national Film Institute.

It is estimated that the conversion to digital will cost 39 million Euros, of which 6 million are allocated by the State, whilst the remainder will be the responsibility of the members of the associations constituting

The importance of the project emerges clearly in the EYE Film Institute’s press release: “Smaller theatres, art house and independent cinemas as well as small distributors of European art house movies have risked being excluded from digital technologies, whilst on the other hand this innovation is exactly what brings great opportunities for growth and variety of distribution and exhibition.”

Thanks to the new project Dutch cinemas should also witness simpler and more rapid access to 3D programming and classics, as well as alternative content such as opera, concerts and theatre.
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As a new addition to the 2010 edition, during its Industry Days the Locarno International Film Festival hosted a workshop on the distribution of digital, organized by Europa Distribution and CN Films.
The workshop, which was part of the EDCL (European Digital Cinema Library) Project, promoted by the European Union’s MEDIA Programme, was held on 7 August and attended by around 30 European distributors. It concentrated on an analysis of the technical aspects of digitization through the study of various case histories.

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MEDIA Salles is now preparing the situation of digital screens and cinemas in Europe at 30 June 2010.
In the meantime, there follows the situation at 1 January 2010. This table slightly modifies the one published during the Cannes film festival.

Digital cinema sites and screens in Europe (as at 1st January)

MEDIA Salles’ contacts and address

MEDIA Salles
Piazza Luigi di Savoia, 24 – 20124 Milano - Italy
Tel.: +39.02.6739781 – Fax: +39.02.6690410
Sito web: