The CEA has dismissed concerns that the transition to digital cinema could result in the loss of up to 300 smaller cinema sites.

Recent national media coverage has raised fears that – unable to secure deals to make the transition to digital projection and with increasingly limited availability of 35mm prints – a significant number of independent operators risk going out of business.

Commenting on the coverage, CEA Chief Executive Phil Clapp said:

“I do not support the grim scenario suggested, which seems to me to be at the extreme end of a range of potential outcomes.

Certainly no-one underestimates the challenge that digital conversion presents to the industry, and as the CEA has made clear before, the exhibition sector will be looking to ensure that the studios and distributors pay their full share of the costs of transition. They after all are the key financial beneficiaries of the change.

But I remain confident that the industry as a whole recognises the value that the current range and diversity of UK operators provides in reaching the widest possible audience of cinema-goers. And that, when the time comes, there are enough different approaches available in the market that we can find a way to allow as many as possible to purchase digital equipment should they wish to.

The CEA continues to explore what it might do to support smaller independent operators durung this time. We hope to make our plans clear shortly.”

Responding to the suggestion in some quarters that public money might play a role, he added:

“Certainly there is no wish on the part of the industry at this stage for public money to fund the conversion. all are determined that a market-led approach should prevail.”

Further background on the CEA position on digital cinema can be found here.