There’s not really 5,000 digital cinemas out there

By Patrick von Sychowski | October 17, 2007 11:59 pm PDT

TITexas Instruments might have you believe that there are 5,000 digital cinema installations across the world and on “every continent except Antarctica,” based on the press release ‘DLP Cinema(R) Technology Surpasses 5,000 Screen Milestone‘. But this is based on a creative definition of what constitutes a cinema screen. But that does not stop the PR from gushing:

There are 5,260 DLP Cinema enabled theatres installed across the globe, an increase of 140% from the same period one year ago.

The pristine picture quality and ideal combination of contrast, color and brightness created by DLP Cinema allowed DLP Cinema technology to quickly become the industry standard. DLP Cinema(R) technology is deployed throughout 99% of the digital cinema market and is in every continent in the world except Antarctica. DLP Cinema expects to surpass 5,500 screens by mid November, 2007 and 10,000 screens by the end of 2008.

It then goes on to discuss 3D, noting that there will be a 1,000 digital 3D-enabled screens in North America in time for ‘Beowulf’, which is very impressive given that that time two years ago when ‘Chicken Little’ came out in digital 3D there were just 83 screens put in place.

Which brings us back to what constitutes a ‘screen’ or, more properly, ‘cinema screen’. As TI counts it, this is not a screen that you would find in a cinema or multiplex, but any screen with a DLP Cinema(R) projector pointing at it. This means that post-production facility grading room, preview theatres, specialized screening rooms, simulator installations, theme park screens and other places all fall within this category. These can be as much as ten per cent, given that post houses and other film service locations have had to digitize faster than cinemas to provide the content.

So we are somewhere above the 4,500 mark in terms of proper digital cinema installations, which in itself is impressive, but it is not the nice round number that TI has rolled out for ShowEast.

Patrick von Sychowski
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