Palace Cinemas Brings 3D To Central Europe

By J. Sperling Reich | March 19, 2009 5:20 pm PDT

Central Europe will soon be able to experience 3D digital releases the way filmmakers had intended thanks to Palace Cinemas.  Tomorrow the exhibitor will announce they will be adding twelve 3D digital screens to their circuit just in time for Dreamworks Animation’s “Monsters vs. Aliens” to premiere on March 26th.

Palace, which is the largest exhibitor in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, will install three screens in Prague, two screens in Brno, two in Bratislava and an additional five in Budapest, where the company is headquartered.  The news is a bit of a coup for Masterimage.  The Korean company’s 3D technology has been selected for 11 of the installations.  Palace, which already has one RealD system, will install an additional RealD screen at West End, one of their premiere venues in Budapest.  Recently RealD and Dolby have stolen the spotlight when it comes to making announcments about new 3D installations.

“We like Masterimage, said Palace CEO V.J. Maury of why they chose the technology.  “It’s a combination of great 3D on the screen and the right price.  And we wouldn’t add another RealD screen at West End if it were not for its excellent 3D picture.”

That Palace has chosen to install Masterimage may speak to the license fees and revenue sharing business models of other systems.  There have been some low grade mumblings by some exhibitors about not wanting to share any portion of box office revenue with 3D technology companies, though for certain exhibitors it provides an affordable opportunity to install 3D technology.

The rest of the kit will include Barco projectors and XDC servers and be installed by Film-Ton-Technik (FTT).  What’s noteworthy here is that Palace has chosen XDC servers, though have not yet chosen them as a digital cinema integrator.  However, Maury says the integration options is still on the table.  “We are sort of doing this as a test with XDC in hopes of moving towards a VPF deal,” he explained.  “They have given us a deal because we are at such an advanced stage of the discussions.  We wanted to meet our 3D goals as well as working with XDC.”

If all goes according to plan, Maury hopes to convert Palace entirely to digital – ideally by the end of the year.  He admits that the number of 3D releases hitting theatres this year was definitely part of the reason Palace chose to install additional screens with the technology.  “We believe there is a limited window here of being able to take advantage of the incremental revenues of 3D,” he said.  “I just don’t think it’s going to last.  If 3D becomes commonplace than the ticket prices aren’t going to stay much higher than the regular ticket prices.”

Maury will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of Palace Cinemas at ShoWest in Las Vegas in two weeks with several key members of his team including CFO David Jelinek(CFO), David Horacek (Czech Republic Manager), Andrea Baisova (Slovakia Manager), Andrea Lovasz (Hungary Manager) Mark Waldman (Tech Manager) and Greg Bridle (IT Manager).


J. Sperling Reich