Circuit George Raymond (CGR Cinémas), one of France’s largest cinema chains and Arts Alliance Media (AAM), Europe’s leading specialist in digital cinema technology, content and deployment have announced the installation of France’s first fully digital 12-plex cinema at La Rochelle. This is a significant milestone for the French motion picture industry and further proves the viability of the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) business model for Europe’s widespread transition to digital cinema.
100 CGR screens are scheduled for installation by July 2008, as part of the AAM and CGR exclusive agreement to digitally equip 100% of the circuit’s 400 screens. In addition to the 12-plex already installed in La Rochelle, installations will take place over the next 3 months at CGR’s sites in La Meziere, Villenave D’Ornon, Lattes, Torcy, Brignais, Blagnac, Lanester, Mantes La Jolie, Epinay, Niort and Colmar.
To date, a total of 19 screens have been equipped with DCI-compliant 2K digital projection systems within 8 different CGR multiplexes across France in the cities of La Rochelle, Blagnac, Brignais, La Meziere, Lattes, Niort, Villenave d’Ornon and Torcy. At the La Rochelle site – the first one to be fully equipped in digital - a one-month extensive test and analysis phase has now begun, which will allow CGR and AAM to assess network interactivity software and data reliability solutions. To enable a smooth transition to digital, the 35mm projection systems remain in place, so each screen can play 35mm or digital prints, as needed.
"We are very happy to see that La Rochelle is France’s first multiplex entirely converted to digital. This is the first step towards the total transition to digital of our screens. This will open new perspectives to our group in terms of 3D and alternative content, as well as faster and more flexible programming and increased efficiency.” said Jocelyn Bouyssy, Chief Executive Officer, CGR Cinémas.
Gwendal Auffret, AAM’s Managing Director of Digital Cinema said “La Rochelle is a benchmark for the digital cinema transition in France and in Europe. Thanks to CGR, the French cinema industry has now a great opportunity to witness and understand the operations of a fully digital cinema. We look forward to the next phase of our rollout with such a great innovative partner.”
Sébastien Bruel, CGR’s Technical Director said “We have worked closely with Alexandre Brouillat of AAM, and with CDS, our integrator partner, in order to design and install a technical infrastructure that supports and enhances our processes, from the delivery of content to the projection: it meets our highest expectations. This flagship installation will allow us to validate our network strategy, make sure our security requirements are met and set up our new operational processes before the next installations.”
CGR Cinémas is a leading and expanding cinema chain in France. The company is well known for the success of its multiplexes in many mid-size cities across the country, for the efficiency of its cost management and for its profitability. Jocelyn Bouyssy, Chief Executive Officer of CGR Cinémas, was voted “Person of the Year” by the French film industry trade paper, LE FILM FRANCAIS in December 2007.
AAM is the only integrator in Europe to have signed digital cinema deployment agreements with five Hollywood studios for the conversion of up to 7,000 screens over the next few years. The company maintains and operates the UK Film Council’s 240 screen Digital Screen Network, as well as digital cinema trials in the UK and Norway. AAM is in active negotiations for further digital cinema deployment agreements with other major distributors and exhibitors and announcements are expected shortly.