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Creative COW spoke with Wim Buyens, Senior Vice President Barco N.V. and General Manager Entertainment Division, to learn more about the plans for Digital Cinema expansion in China.
and China Film Group
just joined forces to form a new company aimed at developing China's digital cinema market. The newly formed CFG Barco (Beijing) Electronics Co. Ltd. brings together two Barco subsidiaries--Barco Visual (Beijing) Electronics Company Limited and Barco China (Holdings) Limited Company--with China Film Equipment Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China Film Group. Established in 1951, China Film Equipment is a nationwide film equipment trading company affiliated directly with the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television.
Financial participation in the new joint venture is 58 percent Barco and 42 percent China Film Group.
spoke to Wim Buyens, Senior Vice President Barco N.V. and General Manager Entertainment Division, to learn more about the plans for Digital Cinema expansion in China.
Wim Buyens, Senior Vice President Barco N.V. and General Manager Entertainment Division. "We are proud of and confident in our investment and collaboration with China Film Group, and we are honored to work with China's best film equipment trading company."
"Barco has been in the Chinese market since 1989," explains Buyens. "Since 2004, we have had an R&D team in China that was primarily investigating the LED business market. With this announcement, we added also an R&D team for Digital Cinema."
In China there are approximately 12,500 multiplexes in China that will convert to Digital Cinema in the near future, says Buyens. "On a daily basis, two to three screens are added in the market, which equates to approximately1,000 new Digital Cinema screens per year," he says. "This is only for the top cinema theaters, however, so it doesn't take into account the local, smaller theaters."
Buyens reports that, by end of July 2011, more than 4,600 Barco digital cinema projectors were installed in China, covering 65 percent of that country's installed DC projectors. Barco, which has a global installation base of more than 20,000 projectors, has multiple factories in various regions of the world, including a Beijing factory that has already achieved a monthly production capacity of 500 projectors. "At the beginning of 2010 we started making the projectors in our own Barco facility in China," he says. "So half of these projectors were made in China, the other half in Belgium." Last year, Barco also set up a digital projector research center in Beijing, becoming the first foreign projector manufacturer to establish a research center in China.
Theatre Management System: "Manage your multiplex from a central location."
The emphasis is on strengthening localized development and production of Digital Cinema products and services in China. The plan is synergistic with China's new Five Year Plan (2011-2015), its 12th such plan, which is based on the forecast that the culture industry will enter a period of rapid development in the next five years and ultimately contribute 5 percent to the country's GDP.
Succeeding in the Chinese market is dependent on Barco "going completely local," says Buyens. "Indeed, our plan is to further localize in China," he says. "China is a very big market for Digital cinema but also for other projection applications. If you want to make a local product, then it needs to be designed locally, with local components, this is the only way forward." As such, Barco is employing Chinese citizens for its new R&D team, which will be comprised of between 50 and 60 persons.
China also largely shows its own movies, with the Los Angeles Times
reporting that "last year, the Chinese government allowed only 54 foreign films into the country, and U.S. studios were able to share a percentage of box office revenue on just 21, according to research firm Artisan Gateway."
Barco Solutions deployed during the opening ceremony of the China National Games included 48 XLM HD30 projectors used for projection on the stadium's "giant cone-shaped" screen; with an additional 8 DML-1200 luminaires for dynamic projection.
2K, 30,000 lumens three-chip DLP projector
That fact impacts Digital Cinema installations in China, says Buyens. "Several tens of thousands cinema theaters in China are theaters that are showing local, Chinese movies that are independent from Hollywood," he adds. "This means that these theaters do not necessarily need DCI compliant projectors which brings us to "e-cinema", the electronic cinema market. The joint venture will especially aim at that market so to be able to respond in the most efficient way."
Buyens also points out that "through its customer service facilities, sales, local R&D, and production, the new company will maintain the Barco brand and ensure Barco's world-class quality and service," while the experience and influence of China Film Equipment Co. Ltd. will enable the new company to build more effective communication channels and a stronger relationship with Chinese customers.
"This is another major milestone following our establishment of the research center in Beijing," concludes Buyens. "This roll-out of digital projector technology to many more cinemas will enable China's film industry to reach and benefit a larger audience of moviegoers."
DP2K-32B Ultra-bright DLP Cinema® projector
Barco is not the only Digital Cinema company active in China, which is clearly a booming market for this industry sector. GDC Technology
, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong publicly listed company Global Digital Creations Holdings Limited, which has installed approximately 3,700 2K digital cinema servers in China, announced it just passed the benchmark of 10,000 installations worldwide. In April 2002, the company installed what it said is the country's very first digital cinema server in Shanghai.