Rival Korean exhibitors back digital

CJ-CGV and Lotte set up projection venture

SEOUL — South Korea’s two leading exhibitors, CJ-CGV and Lotte Cinema, are setting up a 50/50 joint venture to encourage the uptake of digital projection in theaters.

D-Cinema Korea will open shop by the start of 2008 and plans to finance roughly 33% of the cost of purchasing and installing digital projectors, with full ownership to be transferred to theaters after 10 years.

Distributors will be charged a virtual print fee upon the release of each title to help recoup the initial investment.

In addition to providing added flexibility for exhibitors, the conversion to digital is expected to drastically cut costs for film distributors.

D-Cinema intends to open negotiations with international distributors and equipment providers.

As of May, 107 of South Korea’s 1,980 screens, roughly 5%, were equipped with digital projectors.

In the past few years, organizations including the Korean Film Council have promoted the establishment of a digital distribution network.

However, the partnership between two key rivals in the exhibition industry is one of the most encouraging signs for proponents of digital cinema.

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