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Coming Soon to Theaters: Movies via Satellite

Studios, exhibitors partner for digital delivery service that will eliminate physical discs

The industry’s first digital theatrical delivery service is mere months away after five studios and the nation’s three largest exhibitors, Regal, AMC and Cinemark, reached an agreement to partner on a model that delivers films and other content via satellite.

Formed by the three major circuits, Universal and Warner Bros, the group first announced its intentions at last year’s CinemaCon, calling itself the Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition. The five studios involved now are Lionsgate, Disney, Paramount, Warners and Universal; Sony and Fox are in negotiations to join.

DCDC is a network of satellites capable of distributing feature, promotional, pre-show and live content via digital distribution technologies. Its implementation will eliminate the need for a vast amount of the physical discs that are still shipped to digital-capable theaters, the standard practice since the conversion wave began in 2007.

“DCDC’s service platform is the state of the art for digital delivery of various kinds of content to theaters in North America,” Randolph Blotky, chairman and CEO of Technology Convergence Partners, said in a statement. “Its business model will assure long-term consistent low-cost pricing to content providers and exhibitors across the industry.”

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Blotky has been consulting for DCDC for the last three years.

The distribution model marks a significant collaboration between studios and exhibitors, as well as the first time the three major U.S. exhibs have partnered since the formation of DCIP — a partnership aimed at facilitating digital conversion — in 2007.

“DCDC is creating a technological superhighway,” said Cinemark CEO and prexy Tim Warner. “It’s one port access to thousands of screens, for both movies and alternative content, from all content providers.”

The initial rollout is expected to be completed before the end of the year. Deluxe/EchoStar LLC will provide operations support for the DCDC network.

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