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Japanese theaters to go digital next year

Exhibs move forward despite high costs

TOKYO — Japan’s 10 biggest multiplex operators, which account for nearly 70% of the country’s 3,300 screens, plan to digitize their theaters by next summer at the latest, according to a survey conducted by the Kyodo news service.

The T Joy chain is a leader in the changeover, digitizing all its theaters nearly two years ago, while the biggest operator, Toho Cinemas, finished the conversion in June.

A survey sent to 277 indie theater operators in May by the Japan Community Cinema Center, which reps indie exhibs, found that 46%, or 63 of the 138 responding, said they had digitized their venues.

Equipment costs averaging $130,000 have placed a heavy financial burden on smaller theaters, but with the alternative being commercial oblivion, many are planning to go digital regardless.

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