Regal Cinemas’ transcript of their Second Quarter Earnings conference call provides some interesting insights into their road map for digital cinema and particularly for digital 3D. Overall BO is up slightly, mainly on the back of the billion dollars earnings from the trinity of threequels that was Pirates 3, Spider-Man 3 and Shrek 3. The digital cinema plans of DCIP remain apparently ‘on track’ with some interesting semi-new nuggets of information from the transcript (courtesy of Seeking Alpha) and particularly the Q&A with investor analysts that followed the presentation:
Our goal at the beginning of the fiscal year was to begin digital installations in our new theaters opening during the fourth quarter of this year, and we are on track to meet that timeline.
We would also expect to begin converting our existing locations to digital during the first half of 2008. And again, we would expect that a complete conversion of our circuit will take approximately three to four years.
DCIP is continuing to work with the studios to negotiate and finalize the virtual print fee contracts. And negotiations of the financing plans are also in process. We remain optimistic regarding the benefits of digital cinema, primarily as it relates to future growth potential associated with 3D film product and other 3D content.
On the subject of digital 3D, Regal is keen on it….
Based on forecasted film slates from the major Hollywood studios, we believe that 3D technology may be suitable for as many as three to four screens in each of our high-volume 16 to 20-screen megaplexes and possibly totaling 1,000 to 1,500 screens circuit-wide for Regal at maximum deployment.
Regarding Beowulf, we have currently 109 units. And we’ve made it clear in the past that once we begin our own deployment of digital conversions through DCIP, we could rapidly accelerate the roll-out of 3D screens.
That being said, during that interim period, we have made it clear to REAL D that we would continue to accept additional screens as long as they can provide the projectors that we need free of charge to us to roll out prior to our overall roll-out. So, I guess, the answer is we would expect to probably have a few more 3D screens for Beowulf, but I can’t give you a definitive answer on how many.
The whole transcript is well worth reading for understanding the dynamics of the largest US (and global) exhibitor, who will shape digital cinema reality in a BIG way in 2008.