As the first country in the world, Norway has completed a collective, national digitalisation of its cinema theatres. The process ended almost a year earlier than anticipated, and now a total of 185 theatres are able to screen films digitally. The small and medium-sized cinemas are reporting a large increase in attendance as a consequence of the project.
In total, 410 screens now screen digital films and other alternative content that the digitalisation allows. Even the Mobile Cinema will have completed its digitalisation before the fall season of 2011. As many as 70 per cent of the cinemas, including the Mobile Cinema, can screen 3D movies.
One of the goals of this digitalisation has been to maintain a good film repertory, and therefore also a quality set of cultural events in rural areas. Through an exceptional co-operative effort between cinemas, distributors and Film & Kino, Norway has succeeded in including both the large and the small cinemas in the digitalisation. This is a problem in other countries, and it would have been impossible for us without our unique cinema structure, Managing director Lene Løken of the industry organisation Film & Kino says.
With the digitalisation, the small and medium-sized cinemas have obtained access to a much larger selection of films than previously. There are premieres more often and the films generally arrive faster at the movie theatres.
It is very nice to see a better attendance so soon, as a consequence of the investments that the various municipalities and the small cinemas have made. Not least, it shows that the decision to digitalise all the cinemas was the right one, Head of Consulting Department Jørgen Stensland in Film & Kino, and Project Manager for the digitalisation, says.
In addition, a number of cinemas have used the opportunity to show alternative content. Many movie theatres have had great success with the transmission of sports events and performances from the world's great opera houses, like the Metropolitan in New York and La Scala in Milano. We have also seen that there are opportunities for local productions in various cultural areas to be screened. Among other things, theatre productions are now next in line.
The attendance for screenings of alternative content has on many occasions been larger than for regular film screenings. In Sunndal, for example, a film production by and with local people achieved the year's highest attendance figures. The possibilities are many and we will probably see interesting developments in this area in coming years, Stensland says.