89 screens to convert to digital

PARIS — Paris has cemented its position as Europe’s arthouse capital with a E2.1 million ($2.9 million) investment to help all 89 arthouse screens in the city switch to digital within five years.

The support fund includes coin from the Ile de France region.

Aid complements the $167 million, three-year plan set up by French film org CNC to digitize 1,500 screens in small-sized cinemas that are unlikely to get third-party facilitators offering VPF deals.

“We want to make sure smaller cinemas don’t get squeezed out by bigger theater chains and continue to have access to all films,” said Christophe Girard, in charge of cultural affairs for Paris. “Digital equipment also will allow exhibitors to enjoy more programming flexibility and have the opportunity to show alternative content, among other things.”

The cost of the digitization for the 89 screens is estimated at more than $8.4 million with regional funds contributing some 30% of the budget. Each screen will cost about $103,830 to equip. Arthouse exhibs will pay from 5% to 10% of the cost.

In further news, Michel Gomez, general delegate for Mission Cinema, a government-backed commission, has announced plans to renovate and open a number of arthouse cinemas, including the CineLilas, a seven-screen multiplex, skedded to bow in 2012; and the Louxor, a three-screen cinema set to re-open in 2013.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more