Several major Hollywood studios have announced a deal to convert to digital projection.
The change, announced Wednesday, will affect nearly 20,000 movie theaters in the United States and Canada.
Walt Disney Motion Pictures, Universal Studios, and Lionsgate Films have joined 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures in committing to pay about $900 for each film to be distributed digitally to each screen, according to a report in The Financial Times.
Digital distribution is generally less expensive than distributing a hard copy and has the potential to save $3 billion per year. However, the Hollywood studios had planned to back part of the conversion by raising $1 billion in capital through JPMorgan and Blackstone. That may not be easy in the current economic climate.
The news comes after Entre Les Murs, which translates to Between The Walls, became the first film in Europe to be delivered exclusively to digital cinemas through an electronic network.
French distributor Haut et Court chose the managed file delivery provider SmartJog and digital film release management tool cinego.net, from CN films, to deliver the Palme D'Or-winning film by Laurent Cantet. The move eliminates the need to copy and send hard disks to digital cinemas.
SmartJog's platform allowed Haut et Court to send the film and trailers to more than 30 screens in France, where more than 90% of digital screens are connected to SmartJog's network.
The European Union's Media program, which supports expansion of digital film technology, supported the project through its D-Platform pilot program.