European digital cinema services company Arts Alliance Media (AAM) has agreed long term commitments with French independent distributors MK2 Distribution and DistriB Films to support its ongoing digital cinema roll-out in Europe. The agreements cover a ten year period and include a commitment to provide feature films in digital format (DCP) as well as making provisional contributions towards the costs of deployed screens under AAM's network in France. The agreements mark the first 10 year commitment from independent distributors in France. The deal follows the recent legislation passed in France to outline a framework for an obligatory market-wide distributor contribution.
This is a first for Arts Alliance Media (and others including Ymagis, XDC and Sony) in France and represents a significant breakthrough. Several independent distributors have already been providing financial support to d-cinema roll-out in France on short-term agreements, and elsewhere in Europe far fewer on longer-term negotiated agreements through rival European d-cinema facilitator XDC (although not in France). After several years of modifications and negotiation, the implication of this deal is that the proposed VPF structure is now adapted to the independent distribution sector in France and by extension elsewhere, at least for companies with a profile similar to the two signatories. At an exhibitor/distributor bilateral workshop at the recent Europa Cinemas conference in Paris, this was not altogether accepted as a view but for the first time there were several distributor voices that backed it up. The passing of new legislation in France is based on a pricing formula determined by the week of widest release, as opposed to current pricing which could be based on the total number of new digital prints sent to each cinema or screen. France is already the leading digital and 3D territory in Europe with over 1,650 digital screens in early December 2010, of which over 75 per cent are 3D.