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Fox leaps into digital dimension

Studio links up with Christie to do d-cinema

Fox is making its first big leap into digital cinema.

Studio has signed to provide its films for Christie/AIX, a joint venture between Christie and AccessIT, as it embarks on an ambitious plan to install up to 4,000 d-cinema systems around the U.S. and Canada.

Disney was the first studio to pact with Christie/AIX, signing a deal last month (Daily Variety, Sept. 16). Others are likely to follow.

Christie/AIX is planning to install 150 d-cinema systems by the end of this year, down slightly from a previous goal of 200. With its second deal for studio content, and more likely on the way, it’s hoping to raise funds to finance the installation of up to 4,000 digital cinema systems with Christie projectors and AccessIT server software.

Investors from Wall Street or elsewhere would pay for such deployments in exchange for a cut of “virtual print fees” studios like Fox and Disney will pay Christie/AIX to distribute and screen their pics.

Fox exec VP for digital exhibition Julian Levin said his studio is already making deals with vendors to digitize pics. If all goes smoothly, Fox will release its first pics early next year that are compliant with the standard recently completed by Digital Cinema Initiatives, the seven studio joint venture established to create a common format.

Deal is nonexclusive, and Levin added that Fox is in the midst of talks with several other companies planning d-cinema rollouts for which they would raise outside funds to install their own technology. He said talks with Technicolor are currently most advanced.

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