PARIS, France—Jul 6, 2006
Thomson Reaches Digital Cinema Equipment Deployment Agreement In Europe with Kinepolis Group, Barco and Dolby
Technicolor Digital Cinema to Deploy Digital Cinema Systems with Barco 2K DLP® Projectors And Dolby Servers in 130 Kinepolis Screens in Belgium
Reinforcing its global leadership in digital cinema, Thomson (Euronext Paris: 18453; NYSE: TMS), through its Technicolor Digital Cinema business, announced it has reached a strategic, long-term agreement with Kinepolis Group NV (Euronext Brussels: KIN), one of Europe’s largest theatre circuits, and the leading exhibition chain in Belgium, to install and operate digital cinema systems in Kinepolis-owned and operated screens in line with Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC (DCI) specifications. The agreement, the financial terms of which were not disclosed, represents the first of its kind in Europe, and demonstrates Technicolor Digital Cinema’s commitment to replicating its North American digital cinema rollout on the European continent.
Under the conditions of the agreement, Technicolor Digital Cinema will initiate its European digital cinema rollout by installing Barco 2K projectors, based on DLP Cinema® technology of Texas Instruments, and Dolby Digital Cinema playback systems in 130 Kinepolis Group screens at 10 sites in Belgium. The company will convert approximately 50 percent of each of Kinepolis’ Belgian multiplexes, including its new eight-screen, fully-digital facility in Bruges opening today, to digital cinema systems by early 2007. Technicolor Digital Cinema will transition the circuit’s remaining screens in the country by the end of 2007. The agreement specifically requires Technicolor Digital Cinema to deploy, maintain, and monitor all digital cinema systems deployed, including Technicolor’s proprietary theatre management system (TMS).
“Technicolor Digital Cinema is delighted to secure Kinepolis Group as its first European strategic partner for digital cinema,” said Joe Berchtold, president of Technicolor Theatrical Services, and head of Technicolor Digital Cinema. “Kinepolis Group has been a dedicated supporter of digital technology for years, and it is deeply committed to making these revolutionary advances available to movie-going audiences in Belgium. We are also pleased to include Barco and Dolby’s market-leading equipment that delivers the quality and reliability needed to make digital cinema an audience favorite. By leveraging Thomson’s expertise and experience in the region, and capitalizing on Kinepolis Group’s insight into European cinema markets, Technicolor Digital Cinema is extremely well positioned for making European digital cinema a reality in the near future.”
Thomson is currently in negotiations with its film studio partners to complete digital cinema equipment usage agreements that cover digital content distribution to Technicolor Digital Cinema- operated systems in Europe. The company is also in ongoing discussions with other major European exhibitors to extend the deployment of digital cinema installations to other European nations beginning in 2007. Thomson expects to announce definitive agreements with studio and European exhibition partners in the coming months.
Today’s announcement supports Thomson’s strategic intent to strengthen its position as the world’s leading provider of services associated with end-to-end digital content preparation, distribution, and exhibition. Thomson’s intended role includes the management of the deployment of digital cinema projection systems throughout Europe, as well as the supply of related equipment and the delivery of supporting postproduction, network management, and distribution services to content owners.
“As a pioneering, innovative exhibitor for many years, and as the industry’s first and most prolific European exhibitor to deploy digital projection systems in its multiplex network, Kinepolis Group is fully committed to the ongoing advancement of digital cinema,” said Gilbert Deley, Managing Director of Kinepolis Cinema. “As a result, this partnership with Technicolor Digital Cinema strategically supports the company’s objectives to extend its industry leadership in this important arena, and to provide Kinepolis patrons with the highest-quality in-theatre experience possible. With its proven track record of success in this space, and its worldwide industry leadership and expertise, Technicolor Digital Cinema is the right partner for assisting Kinepolis Group in furthering its digital cinema strategy.”
“We are proud to be selected by Technicolor and Kinepolis as the exclusive partner for digital projectors in this first, full nationwide digital conversion of a complete theatre network in Europe,” said Stephan Paridaen, president of Barco’s Media and Entertainment division. “Selection of our projectors is also proof of confidence in the reliability of DLP Cinema® technology for major roll-outs. We are experiencing the digital revolution, where every cinema in the near future will be showing films digitally. Kinepolis and Technicolor are pioneering this revolution and we are excited with the opportunity to share and support their vision.”
“We’re delighted that, after extensive analysis of equipment options, Kinepolis and Technicolor have selected the Dolby Digital Cinema system for all 130 screens across the Kinepolis circuit,” commented David Watts, senior vice president and managing director for Dolby UK. “The quality, reliability and user-friendly operation of the system, backed by Dolby’s proven customer support and commitment to industry standards, will enable Kinepolis to make a smooth transition to fully digital operation. Dolby is proud to be a part of this ground breaking initiative.”
With first-generation digital projection systems installed in over 20 separate locations in Belgium, France, and Spain, Kinepolis Group possesses the world’s largest portfolio of digital auditoriums under the management of a single entity, and boasts the world’s highest ratio of digital auditoriums in comparison with the total number of auditoriums per complex.
All hardware and software placed in each Kinepolis Group site will be generally compliant with industry-standard specifications recently published by DCI. Furthermore, the Technicolor Digital Cinema European plan is technology agnostic, allowing both exhibitors and studios to benefit from the best available technology. The Thomson-driven initiative encompasses an industry-wide business model and operating infrastructure addressing all aspects of the much-anticipated digital cinema rollout: full-output, long-term content commitments by multiple Hollywood film studios; the widespread deployment of digital projection systems with exhibitors; and a broad industry commitment for the installation, operation, and financing of those systems through a proven, experienced service provider.
As previously announced by Thomson, the company has signed digital cinema equipment usage agreements with DreamWorks SKG, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. to support its plans for the distribution of digital cinema content and systems throughout North America. Under the separate, long-term accords, each of these studios has agreed to distribute content digitally throughout the United States and Canada, and pay a virtual print fee to Thomson for screens equipped with Technicolor Digital Cinema systems, beginning in the third quarter of 2006. Thomson is currently in negotiations with other film studios to expand the range of its non-exclusive content agreements in North America. The company has also signed Century Theatres, Inc. to participate in the beta test, after which digital projection systems will be deployed throughout Century’s entire network of over 1,000 screens in the western United States.