Edge predicts jump in digital screen rollout

By Brendan Swift

Digital cinema provider Edge Digital Technology says digital platforms will replace the current 35mm film release printing process over the next three years.

The upcoming 3D release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in November is also likely to provide another boost, with digital screens currently accounting for about a quarter of the industry's approximate 1650 commercial cinema screens, according to Edge general manager Peter Williams.

"A lot of the indies, certainly the AHL sites, Village and Hoyts will have another growth spurt going into this Christmas," Williams said.

Edge is part of Amalgamated Holdings' (AHL) entertainment technology division, which posted a normalised profit before interest and income tax of $1.78 million in 2009-10.

The result reverses a $761,000 net loss in the previous year as the division benefited from the ongoing rollout of digital technology to cinema
operators in Australia and New Zealand.

The expected finalisation of the virtual print fee – a payment made by distributors to exhibitors (or third parties such as system integrators) to fund cinema conversions to 3D digital screens – is also expected to speed the rollout.

The deals are expected to include thresholds which, once passed, will require exhibitors to complete their digital rollout within a shorter timeframe.