Cinemark, Texas Instruments Make Digital Cinema Deal

Follows recent Regal and AMC decisions to go with Sony.

Last Updated: June 19, 2009 @ 4:12 PM

The competition in digital cinema projection technology is heating up — and at stake is market leadership.

Current leader Texas Instruments has revealed that during 2010 it aims to incorporate 4K resolution as part of its next-gen projection technology platform, which will be offered in projectors from its licensees Barco, Christie Digital and NEC.

Meanwhile, Barco inked a significant deal with Cinemark to deploy the developing 4K technology exclusively on all Cinemark screens.

This is an important endorsement, as Cinemark is one of three exhibitors in Digital Cinema Implementation Partners, a key joint venture to plan and deploy d-cinema.

The two additional DCIP members are Regal and AMC, both of which recently announced deals to deploy Sony’s competing 4K projectors.

TI’s DLP Cinema technology currently drives 6,000 2K digital screens in North America. The Sony 4K projectors are on the market with several hundred installed. 4K is a resolution that contains four times the picture information as 2K.

The Regal and AMC deals caused the industry to take notice. Regal represents 6,775 screens in North America and AMC offers 4,628 screens. Combined, Sony has the potential to become the new market leader once the projectors are installed.

With TI’s news, Nancy Fares, business manager for DLP Cinema Products Group, commented: “Regal and AMC are no stranger to DLP Cinema. I hope this will give them an option to think about.”

Cinemark encompasses 3,814 screens in the U.S., as well as 1,032 in Latin America. Said Cinemark CEO Alan Stock: “Based on our decade of experience with DLP Cinema technology, its unmatched reliability has made it our exclusive platform of choice for 4K deployments.”

There are other factors to consider. For instance, could news that this new technology is on the horizon slow installations of the current generation of projectors? And what potentially would that mean for a 3D rollout, as digital cinema projectors are required in order to display that format?

Fares said TI will continue to develop its 2K technology, which has roughly 11,000 installations globally. “Our view is 2K will continue to be used and then 4K will go on maybe the larger screens,” she said, explaining that 4K would support screens up to 100 feet in size, as well as 3D screens as big as 75 feet.

TI’s next-gen platform is slated to begin shipping with 2K support at the end of the year. Fares said the developing technology likely would not be able to be retrofitted to the current system.

An estimated 4,300 3D-ready screens worldwide use DLP Cinema projection.

Imax’s new digital projection systems also incorporate DLP Cinema technology.