Eastman Kodak Deal Gives Another Push To Digital Cinema

Eastman Kodak and Barco are partnering to sell digital systems and services to movie theaters. It's the second industry move this week to make digital cinema a reality.
Eastman Kodak Co. and Belgium's Barco, which develops digital-display projectors, have formed an alliance to sell digital systems and services to movie theaters. It's the second industry move this week to help make digital cinema a reality.

On Monday, movie distributor Access Integrated Technologies Inc. said it had formed the subsidiary Christie/AIX to help fund the rollout of digital cinema. Projector maker Christie Digital Systems USA has aligned with AccessIT to support the effort.

Although the digital-cinema market for feature movies is in its nascent stage, Barco says it already has installed digital projectors with 2048-by-1080 pixel resolution for more than 200 screens in theaters worldwide. Kodak, the $13.5 billion-a-year company, has been working to get a piece of the digital-cinema market as companies and consumers ditch celluloid for bits and bytes.

"We expect 2005 to be a crossover point in Kodak's 125-year history. For the first time, digital revenues will exceed traditional revenues. Also, the increase in digital earnings will be higher than the decrease in traditional earnings," Eastman Kodak chairman and CEO Dan Carp said in a statement to analysts and shareholders at the company's annual meeting earlier this year. "These are important milestones on the way to our stated goals of $16 billion in revenues and $3.00 earnings per share in 2006."

Kodak and Barco, which uses semiconductors from Texas Instruments in some of its digital cinema projectors, will sell, install, and service systems that replace those that run 35-millimeter film. Barco will provide the projectors and Kodak will offer computer servers and software. As part of the agreement, Barco will use Kodak color science and image management to expand the capability and performance of its cinema projectors.