Studios may help exhibs convert to digital

Executives of four of Hollywood’s major studios have held discussions about forming a nonprofit company that would help financially troubled theater chains replace traditional film projectors with digital ones, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. According to the newspaper, Disney, Sony, Warner Bros. and Paramount have been involved in the discussions, with Universal and 20th indicating that they may also participate. “We think the studios need to play a role in accelerating the deployment of digital cinema on favorable terms to theater operators,” Phil Barlow, executive vice president of Walt Disney Motion Picture Group told the WSJ. However, the newspaper reported that the chains are worried about giving studios too much control over how films are exhibited. “Whatever structure is developed has to leave the existing players in the same position as they are Thursday, vis-a-vis the relationships on film booking, control of the projector within the theaters and so on,” United Artists Theatre Co.’s CEO Kurt Hall told the WSJ.