By Alex Christie

Hoyts Corporation has selected Hewlett-Packard to convert over 300 of its cinema screens to digital technology early next year.

The deal, which marks one of the first major rollouts of digital equipment,has been prompted by a wave of studio-backed 3D films such as Avatar and Toy Story.

It follows several years of negotiations between exhibitors and distributors about who would pay for the upgrade.

Hoyts will now convert more than three-quarters of its 373 cinema screens across 32 sites, as well as convert one of its major Sydney-based sites later this year to test the system.

HP server specialist Daraco Services and networking specialist eintellego will commence the full deployment in early 2010.

The 3D digital installation will include specialised projectors and play-out servers. HP will also be supplying desktops, printers and dedicated back-up server solutions for each of the sites.

Ultimately, Hoyts plans to convert all of its Australian cinemas to full digital projection.

Separately, rival Amalgamated Holdings is also undertaking a digital upgrade of its approximate 450 cinemas over the next three years. It runs several cinema chains including Event Cinemas, Greater Union and Birch Carroll & Coyle.

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