The 152 delegates who attended the annual conference of the Independent Cinemas Association of Australia (ICAA) this week were told to expect that there will be no more 35mm prints available for their screens from the end of next year.
But they were also assured by ICAA that every major distributor operating in Australia would be putting their names to a virtual print fee (VPF) deal for independents, which will have the affect of offsetting some of the capital costs of the transition to digital at a standard acceptable to the US studio distributors.
“It is difficult to put a date on when it will be finalised,” said Adrianne Pecotic, who has been in the role of ICAA chief executive for eight weeks. “In part, that’s because there are a limited number of lawyers in the studios who can sit down with Cinedigm and finalise the paperwork.”
Cinedigm and Christie are key partners in ICAA’s VPF deal and are playing a big part in setting up ICAA’s Melbourne-based Network Operations Centre, which is being financed by membership levies and being fitted out over the next two months.
This centre will also be available to single screen operators that don’t qualify for the VPF — ICCA represents Dendy and Palace and other big circuits but 25 per cent of members only have one screen – and non ICAA members who wish to take advantage of it.
“The core objective of the conference was to get as much information across as we could, and we did that,” said Pecotic.
Delegates met over three days for a series of presentations and panel sessions at the Dendy Opera Quays in Sydney.
ICAA has 91 members in Australia, representing 509 screens, and 46 associate members in New Zealand, representing 153 screens. Independents own more than 250 digital screens in Australia but not all of them are ICAA members.