Carmike Cinemas Inc., the third largest national movie theater chain, has signed a deal with Christie/AIX for the installation of up to 2,300 Digital Cinema projection systems throughout the U.S. With this agreement, Carmike and Christie/AIX will begin installing 2K DCI-compliant DLP Cinema projectors. The rollout is scheduled to begin in January 2006 and to be completed by Oct. 31, 2007.
"We are proud to have the opportunity to work with Carmike, not only one of the nation's largest theatre chains, but also one of the most forward-looking," commented Bud Mayo, president/ceo of AccessIT. "It would be hard to exaggerate the significance of today's development as a major milestone for the industry and for our respective companies, and we are privileged to be a partner in this important undertaking. Working together, Carmike, Christie and AccessIT are committed to elevating the movie going experience and to bringing the many benefits of digital to audiences in the months ahead."
Michael W. Patrick, chairman of the board/president/ceo of Carmike Cinemas, added, "We are eagerly looking forward to launching this rollout with Christie/AIX. Digital Cinema is the future of exhibition, combining eye-popping image quality that will dazzle moviegoers with unmatched programming flexibility. This flexibility will enable our company to capitalize on new programming options such as 3-D, live sporting events and other alternative content while continuing to present traditional movies with the best picture and sound possible for even the longest of runs."
Added Jack Kline, president and coo of Christie USA: "The contract with Carmike is truly a tipping point for Digital Cinema. As a progressive company with clear vision, Carmike has identified Digital Cinema as the next growth and revenue opportunity for their business. We are very pleased that they have chosen DLP Cinema from Christie, a proven technology, to bring the digital experience to the heartland of America. The collaborative efforts of DCI, the studios and the exhibition community confirm that Digital Cinema is no longer just a dream it's real, and it's here to stay."
AccessIT's Christie/AIX unit serves as the funding vehicle and administrator for the company's 4,000-screen digital cinema rollout plan expanded significantly from the total originally announced in June 2005. Christie/AIX will act as the financing intermediary between content-owners major studios and independent distributors, among others and exhibitors who will receive turnkey, DCI-compliant Digital Cinema systems, including 2K projectors and related hardware and software. Bear, Stearns & Co. acts as the financial advisor to AccessIT.
A series of key developments preceded the announcement; notably, formal contracts with The Walt Disney Co., Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures Ent. and, most recently, DreamWorks SKG. Initial deployments in the plan began in late October in theaters in Detroit, Michigan, owned by Emagine Ent. Inc. and at multiple locations in San Diego and Riverside County (California) multiplexes owned by Ultrastar Theaters Inc. Completion on these first 150 systems is anticipated before the close of the year.
In a related development, to provide equity funding for this large-scale deployment, AccessIT intends to move forward with the filing of a common stock shelf registration in the very near future.
Access Integrated Technologies Inc. (www.accessitx.com) is an industry leader in offering a fully managed storage and electronic delivery service for owners and distributors of digital content to movie theaters and other venues.
Christie (www.christiedigital.com) offers comprehensive solutions for cinema, large audience venues, control rooms, business presentations, training facilities, 3-D and Virtual Reality, simulation and education as well as industrial and government environments.
Carmike Cinemas Inc. (www.carmike.com) is a premiere motion picture exhibitor in the U.S. with 307 theatres and 2,469 screens in 37 states, as of Sept. 30, 2005. Carmike's focus for its theatre locations is small to mid-sized communities with populations of fewer than 100,000.