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Sony Ups The Ante On Digital Cinema

Sony Pictures Entertainment will now use 4K digital technology in the making of most of its filmed productions.

"With the industry moving rapidly to embrace the improvement in quality that digital cinema can offer, we believe that 4K resolution gives audiences the best seat in the house," said Gary Martin, president of Production Administration and Studio Operations for Sony Pictures Entertainment. "That's why we will be making more of our filmed productions at full 4K resolution, scanning at 4K, using a 4K workflow process, and releasing a 4K DCP to theaters. The crisp and vibrant images provided by 4K are the only way to ensure that audiences both today and in the future will really be able to see the full range of what we can capture on film."

Sony Pictures has already released the summer blockbuster HANCOCK in 4K, with the motion picture grossing more than $600 million at the worldwide box office to date. Movies released in 4K can play in theaters with either 4K or 2K projectors. Among the next motion pictures to be digitally imaged in 4K by Sony Pictures, and available for 4K distribution, are expected to be 2012, SALT and THE GREEN HORNET, with more titles to be announced.

"This commitment from Sony Pictures continues the momentum that is building behind 4K," said Gary Johns, vice president, Digital Cinema Systems Division at Sony Electronics. "Exhibitors are realizing that 4K is a reality now, for enhancing their customers' experiences, and studio support is a critical element to take advantage of the superior resolution of Sony's 4K projection system. The growing number of 4K-equipped theaters will now have even more 4K content potentially available to offer their customers."

More information about SXRD(TM) 4K digital cinema systems is available online at http://www.sony.com/digitalcinema.

Also, Sony Electronics is demonstrating its latest digital cinema technology innovation: a single-projector 3D adaptor designed to work specifically with its 4K projectors in movie theaters.

The new adaptor uses the full height of Sony's 4K imaging device, with the ability to display full 2K images for the left and right eye simultaneously and in parallel, from top and bottom.

The new lens units, models LKRL-A002 (X1.1 - 1.9) and LKRL-A003 (X1.9 - 3.3), consists of an optical and mechanical assembly for each left and right eye image. It is designed to meet DCI specifications for 3D digital projection, while overcoming the bandwidth and resolution limitations of currently available 3D systems.

"With the addition of the 3D adaptor to our digital cinema product line-up, Sony can now offer the best of all worlds to exhibition: stunning 4K imagery from 4K movies, and incredible 3D with no triple-flash artifacts," said Gary Johns, vice president of Sony Electronics' Digital Cinema Systems Division.

When used with Sony's integrated media block (LMT-200), the SRX-R220 4K projector is able to achieve 4:4:4 RGB signal path from media block, while avoiding the "triple-flash" artifacting of current 3D solutions. It can also deliver a 60P 3D display that is especially effective for sports or other fast-moving content in 3D.

The system was developed to give exhibitors the flexibility to switch between showing 4K and 3D content. The 3D adaptor attaches onto the lens mount of the projector and is compatible with all Sony 4K projectors currently in the field. It can be easily removed or re-attached within minutes.

The adaptor is designed to work with a maximum screen size of 55 feet (4.5 ftL brightness on 2.3 gain silver screen). Sony will be demonstrating the 3D adaptor in a technology suite) at ShowEast in Orlando.

The 3D adaptor is expected to be available in March 2009.

Sony Electronics also announced this week that Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and Sony Pictures Entertainment have entered into separate non-exclusive digital cinema deployment agreements with Sony Electronics' Digital Cinema Solutions and Services (DCSS) group. The agreements relate to supplying exhibitors with feature motion pictures in digital form in order to promote the use of digital cinema projection systems.

The new agreements will provide certain operational and financial resources to encourage exhibitors to implement digital cinema systems that will feature Sony's DCI-compliant 4K SXRD(TM) projection technology.

The separate agreements vary among the companies and extend to digital cinema efforts in certain countries in North America, Europe and Asia.

The Sony DCSS group was formed to provide turn-key solutions for exhibitors that will enable them to efficiently convert their operations to digital technology.

In addition to digital projection system deployment, Sony's DCSS group will be in a position to offer critical services for exhibitors such as installation and maintenance, along with customized solutions and high-level service support -- which can all be provided by a turn-key Sony DCSS solution.

In a joint statement, Bruce Snyder, president of domestic distribution of Twentieth Century Fox and Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus, co-presidents of Twentieth Century Fox International said, "Fox is committed to supporting the highest-quality solutions for exhibitors as they make their transition to digital cinema on a global basis. It is important that exhibitors worldwide have the widest choice of solutions available to them. By working with Sony and its range of available technology, experience and stability, our goal is to continue to make the transition to DCI-compliant digital projection systems as smooth as possible. We're proud to be working with Sony DCSS to further advance digital cinema on a global level."

Jim Tharp, Paramount Pictures president of domestic theatrical distribution added: "Paramount is committed to maximizing new, creative opportunities to encourage the conversion to digital projection and to broadening the availability of high quality 3D cinema. Our collaboration with Sony's DCSS team is a great step toward that end. We look forward to continued cooperation in the future."

Sony's 4K projection technology will also contribute to the deployment of alternative content -- including gaming, sporting events and music concerts -- in order to develop more revenue-generating opportunities for exhibitors as the industry transitions to digital delivery.

According to Jeff Blake, chairman, worldwide marketing and distribution for Sony Pictures Entertainment, "As digital cinema programming becomes more prevalent in the marketplace, consumers will experience entertainment in bold and exciting new ways with superior state-of-the-art sound and picture quality, as well as the deployment of alternative forms of content."

Sony Pictures recently launched The Hot Ticket, dedicated to exploring and creating alternative programming for digital presentation in theaters.

"We couldn't be more supportive of our colleagues at Sony DCSS who are offering exhibitors a compelling digital cinema experience," Blake said. "These agreements continue to push the evolution of our industry to 4K, from acquisition through to exhibition."

"We're excited to be working with Fox, Paramount and Sony Pictures to further facilitate the motion picture industry's global digital transition," said Mike Fidler, senior vice president of Sony's Digital Cinema Solutions and Services group. "These studios understand the value of 4K technology along with providing an integrated range of services to exhibitors -- from equipment installation, maintenance and alternative programming to security, digital signage and advertising. A successful digital cinema business model requires a one-stop shopping approach that only Sony can provide, allowing exhibitors to maximize the benefits of the digital transition and to deliver an experience to the consumer that is beyond HD."

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