Christie is an OEM supplier of DLP Cinema 2K projectors. In distinction from its fellow DLP Cinema competitors, it is an old player in the cinema industry having a base product line of film projectors, platters, and automation systems. Its digital projector division was purchased from Electrohome in 1999. Christie played its cards well in 2005 when scoring a partnership deal with Cinedigm (then AccessIT). This led to the present day installation count of 5000 Christie projectors, nearly 4000 of which were sold through Cinedigm.
Christie also gained through its deal with IMAX, where it provides two digital 2K projectors per IMAX MPX screen, a large number of which are now being installed by AMC and Regal. Christie didn’t score as well, however, with DCIP, receiving only a commitment of some 20% of Regal’s screens. The company has not explained this shortcoming. While I can only speculate, it appears to be due to Christie’s preference of combining a low price for the projector with an annual maintenance contract. Regal, with its large staff of technicians, would prefer to provide its own maintenance supported by a warranty from suppliers. (Barco, in contrast, does not provide maintenance contracts.)
The company also operates a network operations center (NOC) for monitoring system health. Christie also maintains a trained maintenance field staff for supporting not just its projectors, but for the entire digital cinema system. It successfully employs both NOC and maintenance support in Cinedigm’s Phase 1 installations.
Christie stands to be impacted most by the mandated retrofit in existing projectors of the secure “Gore board.” If Christie has 4000 cinema installations to retrofit, at an average cost of $1000 per board with travel and labor added in, it’s looking at a $4M upgrade. One wonders whether TI will reimburse them.
Christie is owned by Ushio of Japan. Ushio is diversified as a manufacturer of industrial light sources (Ushio is a major supplier of bulbs for cinema projectors) and automation machinery. Ushio weathered a 50% drop in valuation in 2008, with a market cap of $1.8B.