In March at ShoWest, the spotlight was on Sony Electronics as the deal to supply 4K projectors to AMC was announced. In April, the spotlight moved to Sony Pictures, who announced VPF deals with both Digital Cinema Implementation Partners (DCIP) and GDC Technology of Hong Kong. For both deployment entities, Sony marked the fifth signing of a VPF agreement, leaving Warner Bros alone as the unsigned major.
For DCIP, signing with Sony could be the deciding factor. A year ago, it was said that DCIP would have access to funding with only four studios on board. In today’s economic climate, it is expected that the threshold number has increased to five. If five and not six, then DCIP could well be on its way to closing on its funds. Insiders say that DCIP hopes to gain access to capital in June. Even if not June, it would seem reasonable to expect funding within 2009.
As a side note, one cannot help but appreciate how badly Warner Bros has handled its position. WB is the market leader for film distribution, owning 18% of the US market today. But if trying to use market strength to negotiate best rates for digital print fees, it hasn’t played a smart game. If DCIP now has enough studios signed to move forward, then it also has WB cornered. In a down market for home video, WB needs access to DCIP’s 60% of US market share for its movies. And DCIP does not intend to leave any film projectors behind for WB to get a free ride with. Whatever strategy WB is playing, it doesn’t appear to be wining.