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Cinemark and Regal Movie Theatres raising $1 billion to upgrade to digital projector systems

from bloomberg.com:

JULY 7, 2006

Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment Inc. and Cinemark USA Inc. may borrow $1 billion to transform 13,000 U.S. theater screens to digital film from reel- to-reel, according to people involved in raising the money.

The financing would fund the expansion of digital technology to one-third of all U.S. screens. Theater owners plan to spend about $75,000 per screen to rip out film projectors and replace them with digital systems that promise higher-quality pictures and lower costs, and faster delivery of films over cable or satellite connections.

The theaters and studios such as Time Warner Inc. and Walt Disney Co., the two biggest U.S. media companies, are moving closer to adopting the technology. Making the transition will save money on film print-making, reduce theft and illicit copying and improve picture quality, Mulligan said.

``If the theater owners can get the financing in place, it would be very significant because digital cinema is the next step in the evolution of the theater experience,'' he said. ``There are benefits to both parties and the consumer is the ultimate winner.''

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