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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SM Cinema leads the industry by going fully digital with Virtual Print Fee (VPF) Agreement


SM Cinema, currently the largest film exhibitor in the country with 240 theaters in 44 branches and 4 IMAX theaters, took the lead in the local cinema industry when it opened its first digital theater at The Block in SM City North EDSA three years ago.

photo courtesy of www.smcinema.com

This year, most SM Cinema theaters have gone fully digital while some are still undergoing its digital conversion. Mr. Edgar Tejerero, Senior Vice President for West Avenue Theatres Corporation, managing arm of SM Cinema, shares that by year 2013, all of SM’s cinemas including the ones that will be built in the interim would be all digital, a testimony to how committed SM Cinema is to bringing the movie industry to the next level.

The digital conversion is made possible through SM Cinema’s collaboration with DCinema who manages the deployment of the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) Agreement in the country.

The Virtual Print Fee (VPF) Agreement is designed to offer financial assistance to movie theater owners by funding the first purchase of the digital cinema equipment. This enables big and small film exhibitors finance the digitization of their theaters without interest and with lower up-front cost. This program was initiated by six major Hollywood studios.

With the financial subsidy from the VPF Program, DCinema is going to deploy world-class digital projection system in the country, and is projecting to cover at least 400 screens for digital conversion in the country within the next few years.

Digital Cinema Conversion has shown to have advantages for both theater operators and film producers. For producers, making films are more affordable as it reduces film editing and reproduction costs. Movie distribution is also made simpler because it can be made via Internet, satellites or hard disks without comprising its security.

Digitizing the movie theaters is a leap forward in the film industry’s goal to prevent piracy. With tighter copy protection, the distribution of unauthorized copies before the local and world premiere can be prevented because the interception of prints will not happen anymore. Moreover, digital conversion is environment-friendly because it eliminates the need to use of chemicals which are used in developing films.

Cinema operators and their patrons can also benefit in digitalization as it enhances the movie-goers’ viewing experience. The sound and the image display are notably clearer in a digital theater compare to those which are not digital. In addition, the audio and video quality of the film can be maintained from the first day until the last day of screening. Digital conversion of screens also boosts film exhibitors’ revenue because it will allow simultaneous movie releases with provincial branches, thereby increasing box office earnings.

Because of these advantages, major players in the local film production industry such as VIVA Films and Regal Films have shown interest in joining the VPF program, with the former to first sign in the agreement. This move by local producers is consequential considering that international movie production bigwigs have already long pledged their support for VPF: Warner, Sony, Disney, Fox, Paramount and Universal.

With its goal of providing only the best movie-going experience to its patrons, SM Cinema continuously develops its theaters. Through the full digital conversion of its theaters, SM Cinema ensures that the local film and entertainment industry is at pace with the global trends in cinema technology.

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