Chain to take 74 digital projectors

LONDON — U.K. cinema chain Cineworld has pacted with technology outfit NEC to double its offering of digital screens at the cost of $5.57 million (£4 million) in readiness for the slew of highly anticipated 3-D pics hitting U.K. wickets later this year.

The deal will give Cineworld the largest 3-D estate of any U.K. circuit.

Under the deal, Cineworld, which operates 775 screens at 75 sites in the U.K. and Ireland, is adding 74 digital projectors. By April, the company plans to have a total of 148 digital screens fitted and operational, providing one in five screens with digital capability. Using Real D technology, 144 of those digital screens will be 3-D enabled.

The recent success of “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” — which has posted excellent screen averages at its 3-D showings — has underlined the appeal of 3-D fare to Brit auds. This year, 13 films in 3-D format are skedded for release, including “Bolt,” “Monsters Vs. Aliens,” “Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” and James Cameron’s “Avatar.”

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