Ireland's coming attraction: only digital movies

Includes: CKEC, IMAX, RGC
by: David Strahlberg

Celebrate next St. Patrick's day in Ireland watching a digitally produced movie.  By this time next year, Ireland will be the first country to convert all of its movie theaters to digital.

Avica Europe recently announced that its Irish subsidiary, Digital Cinema Limited, will convert all of Irelands' movie theaters from 35mm to digital during the next twelve months.  The project, which began on March 1, 2005, is possible because the small number of screens in Ireland (about 500) and the fact that Ireland is an English speaking country that primarily watches Hollywood made films.  Also, as points out, Ireland boasts the second highest level of movie visits per year (4.5 visits per capita).

Quick comment: First Ireland, next...the world.  The shift to digital means better movie quality and cheaper, faster movie distribution.  On the other hand, digital films are easier to pirate.  Ireland's digital transformation isn't very newsworthy, but it highlights a worldwide trend towards digital production and distribution. One of the biggest impact of this trend is continued pressure on the shrinking movie release window because of faster distribution and increased piracy concerns.

Publicly traded movie theater chains:  IMAX Corp. (ticker: IMAX), Regal Cinemas (ticker: RGC), and Carmike Cinemas (ticker: CKEC).