Roughly 93% of Australia’s 2,000 screens will be fully digitised by late October when Reading Cinemas completes the conversion of its 200 screens in Australia and New Zealand.
That leaves about 140 independently –owned screens that are still showing 35mm prints, according to Adrianne Pecotic, CEO of the Independent Cinemas Association of Australia. She can’t predict when the remaining indies will complete digital upgrades but says, “We are doing everything we can to support full conversion.”
Distributors say they are supplying 35mm prints to 26-29 locations on a typically wide release in Australia, which will be reduced by 12 when Reading finishes its digital installs. Hence none seems ready yet to proclaim an end date to the 35mm cinema era.
Reading signed a deal with Christie to convert all its screens in Australia and New Zealand, including a six-plex in Dunedin which the operator Hoyts is handing over to Reading, which owns the site, next month.
Reading Cinemas Australasia MD Wayne Smith told IF his circuit has benefited from delaying the conversion because it will deploy the latest digital projection technology. He noted that some cinemas which installed digital equipment three or four years ago now have to pay for software upgrades.
Christie will supply a variety of its Solaria Series 2K and 4K digital cinema projectors as well its ‘big screen’ premium solution, the Christie Duo dual-projector integration kit.
As part of the digital roll out, Reading is installing Australia’s first Dolby ATMOS™ audio platform at its Waurn Ponds complex in Victoria.
In common with other exhibitors, Smith rates this year’s film line-up as a “bit disappointing.” He said, “Admissions are down and 3D has come off significantly from what it was.”