Nearly 90 Percent of World’s Cinema Screens are Now Digital

London-based IHS Cinema Intelligence reports that 89.8 percent of theatrical movie screens worldwide have completed the conversion to digital cinema. The global digital cinema footprint reached 127,688 screens in 2014, a 14.7 percent increase over the previous year. The largest increase was seen in the Asia Pacific region, followed by South and Central America. Additionally, digital penetration climbed to 96 percent in Western Europe, matching that of North America for the first time.

cinemaWhile the report is good news for distributors and the major studios, it also notes challenges to converting the several thousand remaining U.S. screens.

“The move to full digitization is an advantage for U.S. majors and other distributors in that it creates a single inventory distribution environment,” said David Hancock, head of IHS Film and Cinema. “The cost savings of moving to digital — a primary motivation behind the conversion — are there, but will not kick in fully until the VPF system [has] ended.”

“Approximately 16,360 screens were converted to digital in 2014,” reports Variety. “Of these, 11,902 were 3D screens, or 72.3 percent of total. This high percentage is partly driven by China’s continuing love of 3D.”

Brazil, China, Mexico, Russia and the United States were among the areas with the most installed 3D screens. “Territories with the highest net digital screen growth during 2014 were China, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Italy, and Turkey,” notes IHS.

“The world’s digital conversion is now one step closer to the finish line,” suggests the report.