|Independent Cinemas Virtual Print Fee Program|
VIRTUAL PRINT FEE (VPF) PROGRAM - OVERVIEW
The VPF Program has been designed by the film industry as a balanced solution to assist exhibitors convert from 35mm to digital projection systems.
Digital Cinema is higher quality than 35mm, because there is no degradation of prints with use. This is the benefit to the consumer.
As the technology has been changing, 35mm prints have become less available- which may force some cinemas out of business altogether, or expensive prints will be required to supply such locations at great cost to the distributor/studio, neither option is desirable to either party.
Film distributors and studios want exhibitors to transition to full digital because distributors will save enormously on print costs and freight to enable their films to be viewed at cinemas. This is the benefit to the Studios and distributors.
Many exhibitors can’t transition to full digital or adopt modern projection standards because the cost of digital projection is prohibitive and does not stack up on its own, as an investment. This is the impediment to transition and the disadvantage to exhibition.
To balance this inequity, the studios agreed to put some of the saved print costs into a subsidy for new projectors. The mechanism for this is the VPF, a virtual print fee, for every booking, where previously a new or rejuvenated print would have been required at great expense.
There is a VPF program now operating for the major chains, and for the independent cinemas, in Australia and New Zealand alongside many similar arrangements around the world.
EVERY PERSON WHO HIRES A DIGITAL CINEMA PROJECTION SYSTEM AT A PARTICIPATING CINEMA WILL BE ASKED TO PAY A ‘VIRTUAL PRINT FEE’ (SEPARATE TO THE COST OF CINEMA HIRE) TO HELP SUPPORT AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND CINEMAS COVER THE COST OF CONVERSION DURING THE DIGITAL TRANSITION.
IN THIS WAY THE COST BURDEN WILL BE MADE LIGHTER FOR EVERYONE BY BEING SHARED ACROSS ALL MATERIAL USERS OF THE DIGITAL EQUIPMENT.
VPF payments support not only digital conversions but also remote help desk monitoring, logistics, guarantee compliance, training and administration for around 600 independent screens and over 120 stakeholders to ensure high standards of digital projection are developed and maintained in the interests of world class reliability across the independent sector.
Managing VPF’s (collection, disbursement, reporting) is complex and must be subcontracted to a 3rd party independent of exhibitors, studios and distributors. The details of each VPF Program are also required by the studios to be kept confidential.
The VPF Program is being administered by Cinedigm, the largest VPF integrator in the world, with its head office in the US. Cinedigm administers VPF’s for over 10,000 screens in North America and other global locations and collects VPF payments from all users of the digital equipment at each participating ICA cinema site.