Warner Bros. has entered into an agreement with Digital Theater Systems that calls for the studio to release all of its 1997 feature films in the DTS sound format. With the agreement, WB commits to releasing its films in all three of the major digital sound formats, as well as Dolby SR analog stereo.

Previously, WB had used DTS only on selected releases, in addition to competing systems Dolby SRD and Sony Dynamic Digital Sound.

The deal applies to all Warner productions and acquisitions, but not to distribution for hire arrangements.

“DTS has had tremendous penetration into the exhibitor marketplace,” said Barry Reardon, president of Warner Bros. distribution. DTS claims 8,300 installations worldwide.

The more the merrier

“It’s important that you have all of these systems,” said Reardon. “It means that whatever system our customers have, they can play the films. Sound is now a very important part of the moviegoing experience.”

Added DTS president Bill Neighbors, “We’ve strengthened our relationship to Warner Bros., and at the same time the studio has gained access to thousands of digitally equipped screens.”

DTS currently has exclusive agreements with MGM as well as Universal, which is a part owner of DTS.

Pricey technology

DTS charges distributors a flat licensing fee of about $30,000 per picture, making it the most expensive of the three systems from the studio point of view. Still, the expense is relatively minor compared to the more than $2 million it costs to strike the 2,000 prints needed for a typical wide release.

Unlike its competitors, DTS uses special compact discs which are synchronized by means of a time code printed on the film.

The disc-based system provides improved quality control and the ability to create localized soundtracks for overseas distribution, according to Neighbors.

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