First converted theaters will open this year

TOKYO — Citing the rapid digitalization of the U.S. biz where 3-D digtal pics are becoming the norm, exhibs Toho and Kadokawa Group Holdings are partnering to convert their screens in Japan to digital transmission and projection by 2012.

Working with telco giants NTT East and NTT West, they will roll out the first conversions this year. Toho’s 483 screens and Kadokawa’s 112 make up around 20% of the country’s 3,300 screens.

Toho will rely on high-speed, optic-fiber cables, hard disc drives and satellites to deliver pics, while Kadokawa will use only cables and hard discs.  The system used will vary depending on the pic. 

Toho hopes the superior digital theatrical experience will lure auds away from their HD flat-panel TVs once the analog signal is turned off in July 2011.

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