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Digital Cinema research

Film Research Foundation’ latest research on digital cinema

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Digitisation of cinemas leads to wider choice for the audience

Press Release. Amsterdam, 15 May 2014

Since 2012, all cinemas in the Netherlands are digitised. The switch from 35mm to digital cinema – a switch that has been invisible to the public – has had a major impact on the operations and management of cinemas and film distributors.  On behalf of EYE, and in cooperation with the Dutch Exhibitors Association (Nederlandse Vereniging van Bioscoopexploitanten, NVB) and the Dutch Distributors Association (Nederlandse Vereniging van Filmdistributeurs, NVF), the Netherlands Film Research Foundation has examined the effects of digitisation on the market. The study is a follow-up on the baseline survey that was conducted by the Netherlands Film Research Foundation 2 years ago.

The Film Research Foundation has found that digitisation has led to a larger number of screenings per screen (+16 %). This applies to all types of cinemas, from small art house cinemas to large cinema groups. Many cinemas have extended their opening hours in recent years. This offers movie-goers a wider choice of films at any given time.  Digital cinema has been able to facilitate this increase as digitisation is allowing more programming flexibility, both in terms of logistics and finances.

Another significant effect of digitisation is the increase in the number of prints in which a film is released. In particular, independent distributors are releasing more prints when they premier their films, because the economies of scale weigh heavier for them than for major distributors. This means that Dutch and European films – which are mainly released by independent distributors – have premiered with considerably more prints since the digitisation. In addition to more prints, more film titles have been released as well. More screenings, more titles and more prints lead to a wider choice for the audience.

In general, however, digitisation has not had significant effects on the operations of the film industry. This is mainly due to the financing system that has had digitisation made possible: the Virtual Print Fee (VPF). According to the interviewed representatives of the industry, the future remains very uncertain. What will happen when the VPF no longer governs the release and programming strategies of distributors and exhibitors? It is feared that the diversity of films offered will then come under greater pressure.

For further information download the management summary or contact the Netherlands Film Research Foundation: info @ filmonderzoek.nl.

pdficon_small Download the press release en management summary of the study.