Universal, WB plan venture with theater trio

After a year of virtual silence following its launch, AMC, Cinemark and Regal’s joint digital cinema venture is back with a new name and two studio partners.

Unit is now known as Digital Cinema Implementation Partners. It was formerly part of National Cinemedia, an in-theater advertising company the three exhibs recently spun off into a public company.

DCIP is now an independent entity owned by the three exhibs. Topper Travis Reid said it’s planning to start deploying digital cinema projectors and servers into all AMC, Cinemark and Regal theaters starting in 2008.

That will put it two years behind competitors Christie/AIX and Technicolor, which already have started deploying d-cinema systems, primarily in smaller and independent exhib chains.

DCIP also revealed it’s working with Warner Bros. and Universal to develop and deploy a new system to transport digital movie files to theaters.

The two studios and DCIP will select a technology and build an open system they hope to make available to any studio or exhibitor to use to deliver movies for digital projection. Currently, digital movies are sent on a hard drive, though satellite delivery systems are just starting to hit the market.

WB, U and DCIP will investigate both satellite and broadband options. System will be designed to operate in North America but could be used in foreign markets as well.

“The idea is to drive costs down and push delivery toward a commodity price,” said Warner Bros. exec VP of distribution and technology operations Darcy Antonellis. “We’re not looking to make money off of other studios.”

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