London—Jun 19, 2007
Kodak Digital Cinema Making Steady Progress in Europe
Ten Exhibitors in Four Countries Using Kodak Systems
Kodak announced today that its Digital Cinema solution is finding enthusiastic acceptance with a broad range of European exhibitors. Since the beginning of the year, the company has installed Kodak JMN3000 Content Players on 24 screens with 10 exhibitors in 4 countries. In all cinemas, studio-produced features, local movies, and other creative digital content are showing on a regular basis.
Kodak made its announcement prior to Cinema Expo International, the annual conference and trade show attended by exhibitors, distributors, and other industry suppliers from Europe and elsewhere.
“The digital transition in Europe is moving along,” said Brian Kercher, General Manager for Kodak Digital Cinema in Europe. “Now, the demonstrations we’ve done are beginning to produce results. At one point, last month, we were selling a Kodak Content Player every day. When exhibitors use our system, they experience the benefits for themselves and so they really sell themselves on the Kodak solution.”
According to Screen Digest’s April 2007 comprehensive report, 522 cinema screens in Western Europe have digital projection capability. Leading countries include the UK with 148 screens, Germany with 105, Italy with 41 and Belgium with 34. According to the report, Greece has none; but since then, two have been installed – and both have come from Kodak.
Kodak systems were installed on the two largest Village Cinemas screens in Athens in time to show ‘Meet The Robinsons’ in Disney 3D.
“Audiences like the unique cinema experience that digital 3D offers,” said Gregory Komnino, operations manager for Village Cinemas, “but any new system we install needs to handle 2D presentations as well. When we realized how flexible the Kodak system is, we worked out a plan to bring it into our cinemas.”
The Kodak Digital Cinema system handles both 2D and 3D movies. It automatically recognizes the compression format used – JPEG or MPEG – and employs that for playback. Kodak Content Players can be used on a stand-alone basis, or they can be networked and driven by the new Kodak Theatre Management System (TMS) for automated content handling and presentation.
In Greece, they are used in the stand-alone mode; at the Odeon Theatre in Hatfield in the UK, all nine screens have the Kodak system in a network under Kodak Theatre Management System control.
“This is the first version of the new Kodak TMS being tested in a busy theatre,” said Kodak’s Kercher. “It handles the loading and migration of keys, but within the next few months, we’ll add functionality to enable exhibitors to connect and automate many more aspects of the cinema experience. Eventually, it will automatically and seamlessly load, migrate, schedule, store, and play the full cinema presentation.”
The Kodak Theatre Management System is designed to receive its instructions from the cinema’s ticketing system – and move content and keys around the complex in ways they’ve never moved before. With the TMS, workflow can be changed, cinema operations can be made more efficient, content handling can become more automated, and the whole cinema presentation can be delivered in a more coordinated way.
In addition to the nine screens installed in the Odeon site, Kodak has six systems operating at Empire Cinema’s High Wycombe multiplex; one in the Princess Anne Theatre at the headquarters site of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA); and one in The Hospital, a unique private club for artists and other members of the creative community in London.
“Our members and audiences expect us to be able to screen mainstream features as well as other independent movies,” said David Marrinan-Hayes, marketing communications manager for The Hospital. “Much of that work is now available in digital form and so our challenge was to install a system that would be right for today, but also lets us grow with our expectations for success in the future. Kodak provides that.”
Added to those systems in the UK and Greece are three in France, two in Switzerland, and several others ready for installation in the coming months elsewhere in Europe.
“We offer a fully-networked solution,” said Kodak’s Kercher, “with high quality hardware, unique software, reliable services, and all the support the customer needs for peace of mind. Exhibitors know, they’re are not just buying a ‘box’, they’re forming a relationship with a brand they can trust today – and tomorrow. The transition to digital cinema is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We’re pleased to be running with the leaders and we’re in this race for the long-term.”