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London—Aug 11, 2006

Film Fans Across the UK Get Ready for Cinema Revolution

200 UK cinemas go digital in one of the biggest film advances in cinematic history
Film fans from St Ives to Inverness are about to experience unprecedented film choice at the cinema thanks to the roll-out of the world’s most advanced Digital Screen Network, the UK Film Council announced today.

The first 50 cinemas in the network - largely in the North West, Yorkshire and West End of London - have completed a successful pilot phase during which the network was thoroughly road-tested.  Now the roll-out is going UK-wide and installations currently stand at 70.

The Digital Screen Network is a £12 million scheme, funded by the National Lottery, through the UK Film Council.  It will see 240 screens in 210 cinemas equipped with state of the art digital projection facilities by spring 2007.  As a result, cinema-goers will be able to enjoy a far wider range of films at their local cinema and facilities for people with hearing or sight impairments will be greatly expanded.

In return for the new technology, cinemas will show more specialised films including British films such as A Cock and Bull Story and The Proposition; critically acclaimed independent films such as Transamerica; classics including Brief Encounter; and the best of world cinema such as Hidden (Caché).

In 2005, around £300 million was spent on distributing and marketing all cinema releases in the UK but only £18 million, or 6%, was spent on specialised films.  The introduction of digital distribution will mean that films such as these will reach around 30 million people throughout the UK with an increase in specialised film screenings of up to 75,000 in the first year alone, rising to 165,000 in four years from now.   The overall number of cinema visits in the UK could be raised by up to 4 million thanks to the more diverse range of films available to audiences.

John Woodward, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Film Council said: “For the first time ever, film fans right across the UK will get more choice at the cinema.  The public will have better access to a wider range of films on the big screen; from all time classics like Black Narcissus to Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep rather than having to travel miles to the see the film or waiting for the DVD.

“Digital technology allows independent films to be distributed beyond the big cities and into cinemas across the country. That’s fantastic news for audiences and good news for the UK film industry.”

Film Minister, Shaun Woodward said: "There's nothing quite like the experience of watching a film on the big screen. It's great news that 200 screens will be equipped to show films digitally - more film fans, throughout the UK, will get to see specialised films such as The Beat That My Heart Skipped and Transamerica at the cinema."

The UK is one of the most expensive countries in the world to release a film.  While blockbusters such as Harry Potter are often issued on around 1,000 copies, most specialised films are issued with less than 20 prints.  Digital copies can be duplicated at a substantially lower cost than the traditional 35mm format (around 10% of the cost of 35mm), allowing distributors to increase the number of film prints available to cinemas across the country.

The Digital Screen Network will also offer audiences and local communities a range of other benefits.  The digital equipment can provide audio description and subtitling enabling people with sensory impairments to enjoy films on the big screen.  Cinemas will also be encouraged to use the equipment to show, for example, films made by local filmmakers, film clubs and schools.
About UK Film Council : The UK Film Council's Distribution and Exhibition Department is investing £18 million in a range of projects to widen the opportunity for people to see a broader range of films across the UK. Initiatives include: up to £13 million for the first ever digital screen network across the UK; £1.5 million to date towards the release of specialised films (such as Goodbye Lenin!, The Motorcycle Diaries, The Station Agent and The House of Flying Daggers) through supporting Prints and Advertising costs; funding for the installation of subtitling and audio-description equipment at more than 78 cinemas across the UK; funding towards equipping film clubs and local film societies, community groups and mobile film exhibitors with high quality DVD-based digital projection equipment. UK Film Council Directory page
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