BIARRITZ — French film and TV board, the Centre National du Cinema, has launched its conversion system to help more than 1,000 screens across Gaul switch to digital.

The CNC will subsidize theaters with up to three screens and a low programming turnover, which aren’t likely to interest third-party facilitators offering Virtual Print Fee deals.

“We want to make sure that within two or three years, all cinemas, including small and medium-size ones, will be properly equipped to stay competitive and rip some of the benefits of 3D entertainment,” said Guillaume Blanchot, head of multimedia and new technologies.

The CNC system won’t finance 3D equipment but Baptiste Heynemann, in charge of new technology at the CNC, said, “3D material can be rented out at a low cost for exhibitors who occasionally wish to show a stereoscopic feature.”

Funding will vary according to the size of the theater and will complement other sources of financing such as regional subsidies and distributors’ contributions, said a CNC spokesperson.

Exhibitors can apply for the program online on cnc-cinenum.fr.

From October, applications will be reviewed each month by a commission headed by Philippe Levrier.

France has 930 digital screens at 298 theaters. All major circuits — UGC, MK2, CGR, Pathe Gaumont and Kinepolis — have converted to digital. But there are still approximately 4,470 screens left to equip.