The tail end of ShowEast brings the announcement that AMC Theatres will install 54 of Sony’s 4K projectors in four of its new cinemas. The press release gives the details of how many projectors will go into which multiplexes and when:
Sony will provide 54 SXRD 4K digital cinema systems at new AMC theatres in Dallas (12 screens); Indianapolis (14 screens); Riverside, Calif. (16 screens); and San Diego (12 screens). Work will begin next month, with the theaters scheduled to open in December.
The theaters will feature a combination of Sony’s SRX-R210 10,000 lumen* model and the SRX-R220 18,000 lumen* unit. The systems, which were specifically designed for theater applications, will be paired with Sony’s LMT-100 Media Block servers.
“This inaugural effort with AMC Entertainment is the latest example of the exhibition and motion picture industry’s continued adoption of 4K digital cinema technology,” said John Scarcella, president of Sony Electronics’ Broadcast and Business Solutions Company.
But if you read the whole press release there is something missing. A quote from AMC. No ‘We are thrilled to be working with Sony to bring our patrons the highest quality digital….yadi…yada…’ And this tells us off that there is something unusual about this announcement and deal.
More specifically, how much did AMC pay for these projectors and on what terms were they installed?
It seems strange that AMC, which is part of DCIP, should decide to suddenly install fifty odd projectors when they are presumably just months away from concluding VPF negotiations with the Hollywood studios, which will form the basis for funding the rollout in 2008. It’s also not as if there is pressure to install 4K projectors in time for an upcoming 4K film release, like there is for 2K projectors for the digital 3D version of ‘Beowulf‘ this autumn. Which leads me to guess that AMC must have got these projectors from Soy on very favorable terms. Perhaps even free. Because DCIP has already been testing the 4, so it is not as if AMC needed a beta field test. For Sony, this gives them more prestige than the single US exhibitor deployment with Muvico. They must also be hoping that this will put them in a better position for when DCIP places its order for 2008.
Having said that, good things are being said about Sony’s Theatre Management System (TMS), plus the Hollywood studios have made clear that they will not pay VPFs for equipment going into new cinemas, where no 35mm projector or print is being replaced, and these are all new sites. Still, we will have to wait for AMC’s next 4K filing to get any details on what AMC did or didn’t pay for this. Until then, any article about the AMC-Sony deployment should end with the disclaimer ‘Financial details of this transaction were not disclosed.’