Hollywood's long-awaited digital makeover took another big step forward at the multiplex on Wednesday.
A coalition of studios and theaters chains announced the launch of a digital and satellite delivery system to beam movies, as well promotional content and live events, directly into theaters.
The Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition said its distribution platform "went live" last month and will serve 17,000 screens at 1,200 theater locations across North America this year.
The coalition said it plans to distribute 31 films over its network this year, including
The digital delivery of movies into theaters has long been the goal of studios and theaters, most of which have already installed digital projectors in theaters.
Currently, most movies are delivered on digital hard drives and physically shipped to theaters across the country, a costly and time-consuming process.
The new system significantly reduces the costs of showing movies in theaters. Ten to 15 years ago, it cost about $2,500 to deliver a film print to a theater. By comparison, it costs between $50 and $125 to distribute a movie print over the new digital platform.
The digital cinema coalition also named Randolph Blotky as its chief executive. Blotky is a former senior entertainment industry executive, attorney and physicist who previously served as the group's principal consultant.
“This is a truly historic moment,” Blotky, a former
The digital cinema network is a "smart pipe" made up of sophisticated electronics, software and hardware, including satellites, high-speed terrestrial links and hard drives.
The coalition said it will cover the costs of installing and maintaining satellites and other equipment in theaters.
Deluxe/EchoStar LLC is the primary service provider, with installation and maintenance services from Hughes, a provider of digital television entertainment and satellite and wireless systems and services.
The Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition was formed by the nation's top three theaters chains -- Regal,