The Independent Cinemas Association of Australia (ICAA) has completed virtual print fee (VPF) negotiations with a second distributor following the initial deal struck with Paramount earlier this year, according to ICAA chief executive Mark Sarfaty.
The VPF deals, which will play a key role funding cinema owners' conversion from 35mm projectors to digital, have been stalled by a court case involving digital deployer DCN, former DCN director Michael Smith and media company Omnilab.
DCN and Smith were originally negotiating the VPF deals with the Hollywood studios on behalf of ICAA before the association instead employed Omnilab.
Omnilab Media Cinema Services completed the first VPF deal with Paramount in February, however ICAA says it has continued other VPF negotiations since a judgement handed down in May found that Smith had knowingly breached his director duties to DCN and that Omnilab had assisted him. Omnilab's appeal against that finding has been heard in court this week.
"ICAA exhibitors have stepped directly into the VPF negotiations with the studios, as they're entitled to do so under the judgement delivered by Justice Gordon," ICAA chief executive Mark Sarfaty told IF.
"We have finalised another and reached final major terms with a third and so that means that we expect to close the comprehensive VPF scheme with the ICAA exhibitor group negotiationg directly, very shortly."
The names of the two distributors have not been released.