AccessIT, the company that kick started the roll-out of digital cinema in the United States, has given details of its ‘Phase Two’ deployment plans. With the goal of the first 4,000 digital screens now in sight, the speculation had been whether they could extend the first phase to the ofte-stated aspiration of next converting a further 10,000 screens. While there are no hard specifics in the press release, there is plenty enough to suggest that it wll happen:
Further solidifying its global leadership in Digital Cinema, Access Integrated Technologies, Inc. (“AccessIT”) today announced its intent to provide up to an additional 10,000 networked Digital Cinema systems to exhibitors across the United States and Canada. The Company has reached substantial agreement with several of the major movie distributors who fully supported its initial “Phase One” deployment of close to 3,750 screens, completed last month. Agreements are structured so they may be amended to international deployment as well. AccessIT also is in active negotiations with several exhibition chains that were ready to commit to “Phase One” but were unable to participate due to timing. This “Phase Two” deployment is anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2008 and to continue for three years. While AccessIT has not yet executed final agreements, announcements regarding studio and exhibitor signings are expected shortly.
Notice that AccessIT highlight the fact that these 10,000 screens could include ones outside of North America as well. There are several other key phrases worth extracting and highlighting:
AccessIT’s new plan will build on the valued relationships established with Christie USA and Doremi Labs Inc. both domestically and internationally while tapping into the substantial additional resources of other interested vendors. (Translation: We like working with Christie and Doremi but we won’t be held over a barrel by them in negotiations.)
As with its earlier deployment, this plan utilizes a “Virtual Print Fee” or VPF model and is substantially the same as the one announced by AccessIT with the industry in June 2005 and commenced in November of that year. (Translation: Studios thought they were overgenerous with us for Phase One but we’ve still managed to get a good enough deal for Phase Two)
While we are mindful of the substantial amount of work left to achieve our goals, we are the only company that can honestly say ‘you can count on us, we’ve done this before’ to distributors, vendors and exhibitors alike. (Translation: Eat our shorts, Technicolor!)
As with anything we should ask ourselves why now. Obviously the negotiations with all the studios are not finalized, so do they not want to announce them piecemeal but rather all at once? Is it because they are close to the 4,000 finishing lines and want to silence those nay-sayers who doubt that they could repeat the feat? Is it because they are feeling the heat in discussions with equipment vendors (old and potential new ones) and possible exhibitor partners? Is it because DCIP is looming large on the horizon? These and other questions we will have to leave hanging in the air for now.