Cinedigm (NASDAQ: CIDM), the leader in the digital entertainment revolution, and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) today announced they are bringing their successful digital theatre conversion program to the Cinema Buying Group (CBG) members of the drive-in movie theatre community.
CBG is a buying program of NATO for independent theatre operators in the United States and Canada. Cinedigm and NATO will unveil a new exhibitor deployment agreement at the annual United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association (UDITOA) convention this week in Kissimmee, Florida.
The transition from 35mm film projection, which has been used for 110 years, to digital projection systems is a worldwide motion picture industry effort and the costs to deploy this new technology are covered primarily through the payment of virtual print fees (VPF) from studios to implementation companies. Cinedigm's industry-leading deployment program for digital cinema facilitates the funding, installation and operations support, and ongoing VPF administration for the company's digital cinema rollout throughout the United States and Canada. Cinedigm, which has signed long-term VPF agreements with all the major studios and interim agreements with dozens of independent distributors, is the digital cinema integrator partner for the CBG.
The drive-in movie theatre efforts follow Cinedigm’s successful deployment of over 12,200 screens in the US and Canada, with over 276 exhibitors.
"Traditional movie theatres across the nation have embraced the many benefits of digital cinema,” said John Fithian, President of NATO. “Cinedigm and NATO’s collaborative efforts have played a significant role in that transition and we are thrilled to partner with Cinedigm again to bring drive-ins into the digital age.”
The vast majority of drive-in theatres are independent, owner operated small businesses (the largest drive-in theatre chain totals 8 sites) and most operate seasonally, usually around 110 days per year or less. Drive-in screen size and required illumination is on the outer edge of technical capabilities of projection, further complicating the conversion task. As a result, only about 10% of drive-in exhibitors have installed digital projectors for their large outdoor screens.
“As someone who grew up going to drive-ins, I’m thrilled that we are in the position to usher them into the digital age,” said Alison Choppelas, Vice President/Business Affairs for Cinedigm’s Media Services Group. “By providing drive-in theatres digital content, including studio feature films, indie films, concerts and cultural events, this important piece of Americana will be an even more engaging gathering spot for the communities they serve.”
In addition to a new exhibitor deployment agreement, Cinedigm/NATO/UDITOA have taken a number of steps to address the outdoor deployment issue, including securing exceptions to the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) specifications applicable to drive-in theatres, such as relaxed sound, brightness, and masking requirements.
“We are thankful for the opportunity and excited to work with such forward-thinking companies as NATO and Cinedigm,” said John Vincent, Jr., UDITOA's President. "We believe their innovative and generous approach to exhibitor deployment agreements means that the unique movie-going experience outdoor exhibitors offer will continue for generations to come."
The exhibitor deployment agreement will be available to CBG members at the UDITOA Convention running Feb 4-7, 2013 in Kissimmee, FL. Cinedigm sales executive Mark Kamiyama will be at the convention to answer any questions exhibitors may have about the drive-in program.