All Dutch Cinemas Now Digital

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Sat, 09/29/2012 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

Every Dutch film theatre and cinema has been equipped with digital projection equipment. Out of the 789 screens in the Netherlands 506 were converted to accommodate digital projection by Cinema Digitaal in conjunction with integrator Arts Alliance Media; theatre chains Pathé Utopolis Euroscoop and a few independent theatres implemented the conversion independently. Cinema Digitaal is a public-private digitization project initiated by the Nederlandse Vereniging van Bioscoopexploitanten the Nederlandse Vereniging van Filmdistributeurs and EYE Film Institute Netherlands. The collaborative Cinema Digitaal project made a collective transition possible all throughout the Netherlands and prevented the compulsory closing of small film theatres and cinemas. This technological conversion in the cinema business demanded a high investment that would have been financially unfeasible for many exhibitors without the support of Cinema Digitaal. The large-scale digitization project is based on the principle of solidarity: commercial cinemas cooperated together with film theatres and by doing so the existing culturally diverse and close-knit exhibition network was able to be maintained and film continues to be accessible in all of the Netherlands. The coordinated transition from analog to digital was realized over a very short time which meant the costs of running a dual system (distributing analog and digital film) were limited. The first installation took place in July 2011 and the transition was completed in just 14 months. In total the Cinema Digitaal project cost €39 million. The biggest share of the project (70 percent) was paid for by the film distribution companies that are active in the Netherlands: 20 independents and six major American studios under a Virtual Print Fee model implemented by Arts Alliance Media. Distributors were willing to invest in the one–time replacement of 35mm projectors because of the savings that will be made now the production of celluloid film prints will disappear. Cinema Digitaal was co-financed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs Agriculture and Innovation (€3 million from the Implementation Programme Agenda ICT Policy /PRIMA) and the Netherlands Film Fund (€2 million). As a whole the film sector in the Netherlands invested around €55 million in the digitization. With the digitization of the Dutch cinema exhibition business celluloid film (35mm film) has nearly disappeared from the cinemas. Ron Sterk of the NVB and a driving force behind Cinema Digitaal said “The year 2012 will bring the end of more than 100 years of screening analog film. With the digitization of cinemas our business is undergoing tremendous innovation. Digitization provides better quality more efficiency offers countless new possibilities for exhibitors and a wider availability of films for Dutch audiences.”