Kinepolis rolls out 3-D digital screens

Belgium, France, and Spain get cinema upgrades

BRUSSELS — Kinepolis will roll out 3-D digital cinema at 17 multiplexes in Belgium, France and Spain later this month with a euro 2 ($3) premium over local ticket prices for 35mm screenings.

However, cinemagoers using pre-paid vouchers to buy tickets will not pay extra in the short term. In France this will let in a significant slice of the audience, since vouchers account for 40% of Kinepolis ticket sales. In Belgium vouchers have only a 10% share.

Kinepolis customers are already used to paying a $1.45 premium for digital screenings. According to corporate strategy director Jan Huyghe, this has not stopped people choosing digital over 35mm.

Every Kinepolis complex in Belgium and France will have one 3-D screen, as will its Madrid megaplex. This may be increased in 2008, if the content stream justifies it, Huyghe said, although at the moment he is more concerned about gaps. “We can accept two or three weeks without a 3-D film but a month or more risks undermining the offer.”

The group’s 3-D strategy was unveiled Tuesday in Brussels, Lille and Madrid. First to screen will be the fantasy epic “Beowulf” on Nov. 21, followed early in 2008 by Belgian animation “Fly Me to the Moon.”

The 3-D experience will be heavily promoted, in line with the company’s aggressive implementation of digital cinema.

According to the Dodona Research report on digital conversion, released Monday, Kinepolis is one of Europe’s digital driving forces, responsible in Belgium for pushing the digital share up to 50% of screens.

Kinepolis has chosen the Dolby 3-D system, which projects onto a conventional cinema screen, while cinemagoers wear reusable, non-mechanical glasses.

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