Erin Go Digital

While religious and political animosity continues to brew between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, there is one thing they can agree on: digital cinema. A subsidiary of technology and services provider Avica, Digital Cinema Limited (DCL), has announced that they are starting to implement a nationwide digital-cinema network that will ultimately lead to a conversion of all 515 screens in both regions of the Emerald Isle to the digital format. After two years of planning, DCL began installing the first 25 projectors earlier this month and hopes to have all Irish screens operational within a year at a cost of over $53 million.

Kevin Anderson of the country's largest cinema chain, Ward Anderson, noted that, "DCL offered us the only solution that both supports Hollywood standards for digital cinema while providing an economically attractive option for independent distributors and exhibitors."

Nicholas Clay, chairman and CEO of Avica, said, "We are proud to be able to bring the benefits of digital cinema to theatre-goers throughout Ireland, and thrilled to provide the technology which will enable the country to be the first in the world to make this move into the future of cinema."

Clay also noted that the conversion to digital will have no effect on existing business arrangements between exhibitors and distributors. At the same time, it will deliver the inherent advantages of digital-presentation systems, such as enhanced security, aesthetic improvements, and easier management.

The plan is to have theaters download movies to a computer server via satellite link. Of course, the content will be protected by multiple layers of encryption to prevent piracy, and each projector will have its own decryption key. The encryption technology was developed by Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), a joint venture of Disney, Fox, MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros.

Ireland was selected for this project because of its manageable size and the fact that it boasts the second-highest level of cinema attendance in Europe. Once the project is complete, perhaps the bloodshed will stop as combatants flock to the movies—to watch American films full of bloodshed. I'd certainly rather they watch it than spill it.