Olswang acts on EU rollout of film studios’ digital cinema

Olswang has advised new client Arts Alliance Media on five long-term deals to secure the rollout of digital cinema for five studios across Europe.

The client has entered into agreements with Twentieth Century?Fox,?Universal Pictures International, Paramount, Sony Pictures and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.

The deals will see digital cinema – already available in the US – offered in 7,000 screens across Europe. The technology allows for higher definition and 3D images, as well as the potential for exhibitors to show the same film on multiple screens simultaneously.

According to Olswang partner Clive Gringras, who led the team acting on the deal, the 3D technology on offer is unparalleled. “It is to current film what colour was to black and white,” he said. “It’s a totally new genre – it’s not cinema but it’s not theatre either.”

The firm pitched for the role more than two years ago, but the time-consuming nature of the work meant that the last of the five transactions – that involving Disney – closed only last month. The reason for this was that it was not possible to run deals in parallel.

“It’s so complicated because the industry has been moving in a particular way for so long,” said Gringras. “You need to understand how it would work with exhibitors, which studio would be most interested in doing it first, to propel it all forward.”

In the end it was Twentieth Century Fox that took up the baton – closing the first of the five deals in May 2007. Allen & Overy partner Ian Ferguson, who advised long-standing client Fox together with associate Faraaz Samadi, said that the film studio’s interest was piqued because commercially it made sense and it had not been done before in this part of the world.

Sony was advised by Adel Bebawy, a partner at Latham & Watkins, while Universal, Paramount and Disney used in-house counsel.