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Norway to be first country with nationwide digitization of cinemas

The bidding round for delivery of digital cinema equipment in Norway is over. The company Unique Cinema Systems will be providing digital equipment to 9 out of 10 cinema groups throughout the country, while Nordic Digital Alliance won the cinemas in the Western region. Bergen Cinema has already got a head start and will be the first city in Norway with fully digitized theatres, by the end of May. The rest of the country will follow by the end of the 2010, making Norway the first country in the world with a fully digitized distribution of films and cinematic content. The Norwegian project has been realized by common effort in a joint financing between the trade association Film & Cinema, the distributors and the local cinemas.

Virtual Print Fee Agreements (VPF) with the major Hollywood studios (Twentieth Century Fox, United International Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International, Warner Bros. Pictures International.) to deliver content to the digital cinemas in Norway was signed in June 2009. In October last year the bidding round for the purchase of digital equipment and systems integration was launched. According to Film & Kino the providers have been selected only among the best, in an evaluation of price vs. quality. Most cinemas will be equipped with 2k projectors in the smaller theaters, and 4k in major theaters. Unique Cinema Systems, which is already a supplier to most of the cinemas in Norway, will now be the main provider of digital cinema systems. Unique will also deliver equipment to Bygdekinoen, a cooperation of rural cinemas, which currently consists of 227 venues.

Following the deployment schedule, the first cinemas will be supplied with equipment during April / May. Bergen Kino, as the first cinema, will reach full digitization only some weeks after, Elisabeth Halvorsen, CEO at the Bergen Cinema, stated in a comment to Bergen Media By. The Magnus Barfot multiplex cinema already has digital equipment in all theatres, and now Konsertpaleet is up for a digital makeover. Halvorsen pointed out that digitization allows for more viewing of smaller films, and that the cinema now will be able to reach a wider range of audiences. Halvorsen also keeps the door open for a celebration of the reaching of this milestone in Norwegian, cinematographic history.

The deployment schedule for the rest of the country will be published within a month, Film & Kino reports.

By Rune Smistad, Bergen Media By

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