Is digital killing the celluloid star? Well, not quite.
Almost 60 per cent of cinema screens in the UAE show films using 35mm film projectors but the rest have gone digital.
NEC Display Solutions, a part of the Japanese group NEC Corporation, is set to launch a cheaper digital cinema projector in the UAE in November.
Here, Mark Kendall, the business development manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at NEC Display Solutions, based in London, talks about the UAE market potential.
What makes the UAE market attractive?
We have been in the UAE for the last four years. In the early years, it was slow in terms of market growth. But the UAE is a very open market and there is a big opportunity [here]. It is still an untapped market. But since there is no company that measures the market accurately, numbers are difficult to come by. In general, 40 per cent of the market is digital and 200-plus screens still wait to be digital. In Kuwait, 40 per cent of the market is digital. In the Middle East, 400-plus screens wait to be digital. So, the Middle East has a large market potential and NEC expects to have 35 per cent share of that market.
What are the challenges to marketing digital cinema projectors in the Middle East?
They are similar to challenges in other regions. Delivering the message as to the benefits of NEC digital cinema products to the small exhibitors is difficult, as they do not always attend international fairs. This is why we are encouraged ... to create smaller local events. The other challenge is cost. Many exhibitors do not have the funds to invest in digital cinema.
How big is the NEC market here?
Overall, the Middle East, not including Africa, has around 500 screens and the UAE has 300 screens. Almost 15 per cent of these screens have NEC projectors.
What is the new projector NEC is bringing to the market?
The NC900 projector is cheaper. It costs €35,000 [Dh159,273], including the lens and the mount, to an exhibitor. Any other product costs between €50,000 and €60,000. It does not run an exhaust fan, as in other products, to dispose of the hot air. As a result, it makes the running costs much less. Also, it does not use the traditional xenon lamps that need constant cooling. If the xenon lamps failed, audiences had to go home as it took an hour for them to cool down and be replaced.
* Sananda Sahoo
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