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
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