In its first long-term commitment to digital cinema, 20th Century Fox has reached an agreement to supply its feature films to digital cinema projection systems deployed by Christie/AIX, a unit of Access Integrated Technologies (AccessIT). For Fox, this will include an increasing number of feature films from 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, 20th Century Fox Animation and Fox Searchlight Pictures production units.
Christie/AIX will initially deploy up to 4,000 systems throughout the U.S. and Canada over the next few years. Fox's non-exclusive agreement to supply its feature films to these Christie/AIX digital projection systems and to pay virtual print fees for movies projected on Christie/AIX-funded systems further underscores the studio's commitment to support Digital Cinema Initiatives Llc. DCI-compliant digital systems and further advances Fox's support of the industry's transition to digital cinema. Christie/AIX digital system installations will be DCI-compliant either initially, or upgraded to full DCI compliance as components become available.
Disneys Buena Vista Pictures Distribution reached a similar agreement with Christie/AIX last month.
AccessIT's Christie/AIX unit serves as the funding vehicle and administrator for the company's 4,000-screen digital cinema rollout expanded from the plan originally announced in June 2005. Christie/AIX will act as the financing intermediary between content-owners including major studios and independent distributors and exhibitors, who will utilize the DCI-compliant digital cinema systems featuring Christie DLP Cinema projectors, JPEG 2000 servers and related hardware and software, including AccessIT's unique Theater Command Center. The raising of capital for funding of the initial 200 systems was completed on July 21, 2005, and orders for these systems have been placed. Installation of 150 systems is anticipated by Dec. 31, 2005.
Bruce Snyder, president of distribution at 20th Century Fox, said, "We could not be more thrilled. We look forward to supporting our partners, Christie/AIX, in this venture and in delivering Fox movies to their systems. We believe the efficiency, image quality and, most importantly, the overall movie going experience will be greatly enhanced through these DCI-compliant digital projection systems. Christie has been developing their DLP Cinema projectors for many years and they have proven to be of the highest quality. Additionally, these systems should provide our partners in exhibition with alternative uses and benefits."
Julian Levin, evp, 20th Century Fox, who spearheaded Fox's participation in the DCI process and is also the senior Fox architect for this arrangement with Christie/AIX, added, "Having been involved in the digital cinema transition for almost four years, I am delighted to have concluded this arrangement with our friends at Christie/AIX for the distribution of Fox product to their digital projection systems. I have worked with all the folks at Christie/AIX throughout the ongoing transition from conventional mechanical film projectors to digital systems and Christie's projectors have always been at the forefront of the technology."
Chuck Goldwater, president/coo of Christie/AIX, added, "Today's announcement enables the evolution of digital cinema to take another great step forward. We are pleased to secure Fox's early and invaluable support for our digital cinema rollout plan."
Jack Kline, president/coo, Christie, noted, "Fox has been a visionary leader in helping to establish the critical standards for digital cinema, a key factor in assuring exhibitors of compatibility and interoperability. With Fox's commitment to this rollout, digital cinema is no longer a dream, but a practical reality that will benefit the Hollywood community and the exhibitors, making them partners in bringing this exciting new technology to theaters. It is a win-win situation that will provide moviegoers with the highest quality visual experience today."
Bud Mayo, chairman/ceo of AccessIT, said, "We have enjoyed a long relationship with Fox, clearly one of the pioneers in the digital distribution of feature films. Its commitment to digital content distribution and exhibition is an important milestone in the broad adoption of digital cinema by the entire industry."
One of the world's largest producers and distributors of motion pictures, Fox Filmed Ent. produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world. These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of FFE: 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000, Fox Searchlight Pictures and 20th Century Fox Animation.
Access Integrated Technologies Inc. (AccessIT, 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 heaters and other venues. Supported by its robust platform of fail-safe Internet data centers, AccessIT is able to leverage the market-leading role of its Theatrical Distribution System (TDS) with its innovative digital delivery capabilities and in-theater software systems to provide the highest level of technology available to enable the emerging digital cinema industry to transition from film with changing workflows.
Christie (www.christiedigital.com) is a leader in visual solutions for world-class organizations, offering diverse applications for business, entertainment and industry. A leading innovator in film projection since 1929 and a pioneer in digital projection systems since 1979, Christie has established a global reputation as a total service provider and the world's single source manufacturer of a variety of display technologies and solutions. Christie offers comprehensive solutions for cinema, large audience venues, control rooms, business presentations, training facilities, 3D and Virtual Reality, simulation and education as well as industrial and government environments.