Looking to expand from its place in preshow entertainment to become a player in digital cinema, Kodak has formed a strategic alliance with digital projector maker Barco to offer a combined solution to exhibs.
Kodak will sell servers to manage digital movie files as well as distribution services to get them to theaters, while Barco will vend projectors. Companies are hoping that by cross-selling each other’s products in one package, they can better compete in the nascent market.
Although there are only about 300 digital screens around the world and about 80 in the U.S., with no funding plan yet in place for a mass rollout, numerous companies are angling to grab a chunk of the market for servers and projectors, including Christie, NEC and Dolby.
Kodak has established itself as the biggest independent player for digital projection of preshow ads, behind efforts run by AMC, Regal and Loews, but has only three test deployments for feature pics.
Barco, meanwhile, is already a big player in digital cinema in Europe and Asia, and has a growing presence Stateside.
“Our customers will decide when the time is right, when it makes sense for them to begin widespread deployment of systems and to support that with a broad distribution of movies in digital form,” said Kodak Digital Cinema G.M. Bill Doeren. “But our alliance with Barco says clearly we’re ready to move forward.”
Pact is exclusive, though both companies will continue to sell their digital cinema products separately and support compatibility with other competitors.