Asia-Pacific in the first half of 2012 became the world’s second-largest region for movie theater screens equipped with digital projection technology, with strong growth there and in other emerging markets helping the global market expand 21 percent during the period.
The number of digital screens in Asia-Pacific expanded by 28 percent during the first six months of 2012, according to an IHS Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence Report from information and analytics provider IHS (NYSE: IHS). This caused the region’s share of global digital cinema screens to rise to 25.2 percent, putting it ahead of Western Europe at 23.6 percent, and behind North America at 41.1 percent.
“Growth in Asia-Pacific was propelled by progress in key markets within its territory, with digital cinema penetration rates rising to 70 percent or higher in Japan, Indonesia, China, Australia and Singapore,” said Charlotte Jones, principal analyst for cinema at IHS. “This allowed Asia-Pacific to claim more digital cinema screens than Western Europe for the first time, pushing it to second place behind North America.”
Digital on the rise
A total of 77,021 digital cinema screens globally were in place at the close of the first half this year, up from 63,825 at the end of 2011, as shown in the figure below.
More than 13,000 screens converted during this six month period to digital cinema, a process that uses digital technology and equipment to show motion pictures, supplanting the conventional 35mm projectors of old. As a result of the latest boost, global digital-cinema penetration has now reached 60 percent, up from 52 percent at year-end 2011.
Although growth in the first half of 2012 was slower than the 32 percent increase during the same period in 2011, the expansion was still robust on the strength of rising digital cinema installations in emerging economies.
Among all the regions, North America—comprising the Canadian and U.S. markets—continued to claim the largest number of digital cinema screens overall at the end of the first half of 2012. Owing to the already high penetration of digital cinema in the region, however, North America had the slowest growth during the period, up 15 percent from the end of 2011.
The regions of Latin America and Africa-Middle East have a lower percentage of the world screen total, but growth in those areas is the fastest, with Latin America boasting a 50 percent surge and the Africa-Middle East zone coming in second at an impressive 36 percent.
Individual territories with the highest percentage of growth for the first six months of this year included Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and Mexico. The increases are due in part to a previously low digital base in those markets, as well as the emergence of so-called Virtual Print Fee (VPF) deals, or funding transactions backed by distributors that help movie exhibitors everywhere to purchase digital equipment more easily.
The digital cinema rollout is now fully achieved and completed in at least four territories, nearly all of them in relatively compact markets located in Western Europe—Luxembourg, Norway and the Netherlands—as well as in Hong Kong. Many other territories are also approaching full conversion status, including Denmark, Belgium and South Korea.
In the United States, leading U.S. theater circuit Regal Cinemas is now more than 88 percent digitized, ahead of the national average of 73 percent.
For more information, please contact:
Senior Manager, Editorial
Direct: + 1 408 654 1714
Mobile: +1 408 921 3754
IHS Media Relations
+1 303 305 8021