Over 100 drive-ins sign with Cinedigm

Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk

Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk, from the Cinedigm web site

Here’s a press release that was issued today by Cinedigm. Despite a few phone calls, I haven’t been able to determine just how significant this positive-sounding program is. A guy at Bloomberg News sure bought in to it though. Let’s hope this news is as good as it looks.

Los Angeles – Cinedigm (NASDAQ: CIDM), the leader in the digital entertainment revolution, and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) today announced they have signed over 100 drive-in movie theatres to their digital theatre conversion program customized for the Cinema Buying Group (CBG) members of the drive-in movie theatre community. CBG is a buying program of NATO for independent theatre operators in the United States and Canada. Cinedigm and NATO unveiled the new exhibitor deployment agreement at the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association (UDITOA) convention in February and expect all installations to take place by early Summer.

The transition from 35mm film projection, which has been used for 110 years, to digital projection systems is a worldwide motion picture industry effort and the costs to deploy this new technology are covered primarily through the payment of virtual print fees (VPF) from studios to implementation companies. Cinedigm’s industry-leading deployment program for digital cinema facilitates the funding, installation and operations support, and ongoing VPF administration for the company’s digital cinema rollout throughout the United States and Canada. Cinedigm, which has signed long-term VPF agreements with all the major studios and interim agreements with dozens of independent distributors, is the digital cinema integrator partner for the CBG.

The drive-in movie theatre efforts follow Cinedigm’s successful deployment of over 11,700 screens in the US and Canada, with over 269 exhibitors.

“It gives us great pleasure to see the enthusiasm with which the drive-in theater community has grasped this opportunity,” said John Fithian, President and CEO of NATO. “Cinedigm and NATO’s collaborative efforts — similar to our CBG program for traditional movie theatres — have once again played a significant role in bringing these theatres into the digital age.”

In addition to a new exhibitor deployment agreement, Cinedigm/NATO/UDITOA have taken a number of steps to address the outdoor deployment issue, including securing exceptions to the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) specifications applicable to the drive-in theatre environment.

“We are thrilled our members have so quickly embraced Cinedigm and NATO’s program,” said John Vincent, Jr., UDITOA’s President. “Their success means that the unique movie-going experience outdoor exhibitors offer will continue for generations to come.”

“The response from the drive-in community has been exceedingly positive,” said Alison Choppelas, Vice President/Business Affairs for Cinedigm’s Digital Cinema Division. “We look forward to signing even more drive-in theatres to our digital cinema deployment during CinemaCon next week and are so proud to be preserving such an important piece of Americana.”

Cinedigm will be meeting with additional drive-in movie theatres during CinemaCon next week in Las Vegas.