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The Warsaw Voice » Society » October 27, 2011
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Media in brief
October 27, 2011   
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Movie Theaters Go Digital
The Multikino multiplex chain, part of the ITI Group, has completed a drive to turn its theaters digital. Multikino CEO Piotr Zygo has said that all 199 Multikino screens are now digital and 170 of those are ready for movies in 3D.

“We have also nearly completed signing contracts on what is known as the virtual print fee,” Zygo said. “We have closed negotiations with five movie studios from the majors group.”

According to Zygo, the contracts and the completed installation of digital equipment have made Multikino the first chain in Poland and this part of Europe to be fully digital.

The virtual print fee (VPF) is a fee that movie distributors pay to businesses which invest in digital cinema technology. As a result of digitalization, such businesses save up to 90 percent on making copies of movies. According to the Polish Film Institute (PISF), one traditional print (35-millimeter film) costs 1,000-2,000 euros, whereas the cost of a digital copy is just 200 euros. Theaters receive digital copies via the internet. In the absence of a broadband connection, copies are obtained from a master file.

Cinema City International, whose chain in Poland is much bigger than Multikino’s, is planning to complete a switchover to digital next year. At the end of August, Cinema City had 331 screens in Poland, 39 percent of which were digital.

The Helios chain, owned by the Agora group, had a total of around 140 screens at the end of June including 84 digital screens, expected to increase to 95 by the end of this year.

From the consumer’s point of view, digital technology means a shorter wait for the latest releases to come to the nearest theater. According to the Polish Film Institute, theaters using digital technology can start screening premieres simultaneously.

Digital technology may cause 35-mm prints to disappear and so this year, the Polish Film Institute has earmarked zl.15 million in grants for art house cinemas in Poland. The money is given out to cover half the cost of digital equipment, which under the Polish Film Institute’s criteria may not exceed 105,000 euros for a single-screen theater, depending on screen width. The institute started receiving applications for the grants in mid-May and is predicting that a total of 60 theaters will benefit from the project. Grants awarded so far total zl.6.3 million and the beneficiaries include cinemas owned by the state-owned Max-Film chain.

UPC Polska Switches Off More Analog Channels
Cable television provider UPC Polska will switch off analog transmission of several channels at the end of September. Most of these are foreign-language channels such as RTR Planeta, TV5 Monde, Deutsche Welle, CNN, and Euronews. The channels will be only available in digital format, some of them with extra features such as a choice of 10 language versions on Euronews. UPC Polska says it will also stop transmitting analog signal of several less popular Polish-language channels, including Discovery Science, Mango TV, SportKlub and ZigZap. The channels will still be available in the network’s digital package.

UPC Polska is planning to use the newly vacated analog frequencies to expand its digital television services with new channels, including channels in HD, and provide more comprehensive internet services.
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