Access Integrated Technologies, Inc. ("AccessIT") and DreamWorks SKG ("DreamWorks") said today DreamWorks will give full support to exhibitors participating in Christie/AIX's digital cinema rollout by releasing future films in digital format. DreamWorks is the fifth and latest studio agreeing to provide its content for digital distribution and projection and to fund exhibitor adoption of DCI-compliant hardware. The studio's productions will be made available to all exhibitors currently deploying systems under the Christie/AIX's 4,000-screen national rollout plan, starting with the first 150 digital cinema projection systems expected to be installed by December 31, 2005.
Jim Tharp, Head of Distribution at DreamWorks, commented: "DreamWorks was founded to deliver audiences with ground-breaking forms of entertainment. The use of new techniques and technologies has been central to our efforts and digital cinema, with its astonishing visuals, adds to DreamWorks' ability to provide audiences with exciting new entertainment experiences. Having worked with the talented teams at AccessIT and with Christie Digital Systems, we are confident they understand our business needs, the needs of exhibitors, and, most importantly, the needs of movie-goers."
"We are pleased to expand our longtime relationship with Jim and the team at DreamWorks through the signing of this agreement," added Bud Mayo, chairman and chief executive officer of AccessIT. "DreamWorks was an early supporter of digital content distribution, entrusting AccessIT with the digital release of such major movies as 'Madagascar,' 'Collateral' and 'Shark Tale' and we look forward to continuing our work together in the expanding digital era."
Based on the recent distribution agreements signed with Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal and Sony, the company has already begun an initial deployment of DLP Cinema® systems in theatres in Detroit, Michigan, owned by Emagine Entertainment, Inc. and at multiple locations in San Diego and Riverside County (CA) multiplexes owned by Ultrastar Theaters, Inc.
The level of support from Hollywood's major studios has enabled AccessIT to expand its total planned installations from 2,500 to 4,000 screens. Disney, Fox, Universal, Sony and DreamWorks will help finance exhibitors' transition to digital technology by paying virtual print fees to Christie/AIX for each film projected on Christie/AIX-funded hardware. The company is also continuing late-stage negotiations with a number of other studios and independent distributors for their participation in the plan.
Jack Kline, President and COO of Christie Digital Systems USA, Inc., commented: "With this commitment to release future movies in digital format, DreamWorks' continues its tradition of providing groundbreaking entertainment experiences. Coupled with our proven DLP Cinema® technology, audiences will be able to enjoy the best viewing experience available in the world today."
Under the Christie/AIX funding plan, participating exhibitors will receive complete digital cinema systems at no cost other than a project management fee and a standard 10-year maintenance contract with Christie similar to existing film maintenance agreements. The Christie/AIX-funded deployment of Christie DLP Cinema® projectors also includes media players and a central "library" server plus two-way satellite communications and data storage equipment. The central servers feature AccessIT's unique vendor-neutral Theater Command Centre ("TCC") software, which allows all digitally-equipped screens in a multiplex to be networked, simplifying theater operations through centralized content management, scheduling, and reporting.