In an effort to give independent theater owners more time to convert their screens to digital, Sony has extended their Virtual Print Fee program deadline until March 31, 2013 and revamped their lease options for their digital cinema equipment packages.
Up until now, Sony’s VPF program had required that 10% of the exhibitors lease fee be paid up front, in a single payment, prior to the projector system being installed. This figure could be quite daunting for smaller theater owners. Under Sony’s new VPF plan, exhibitors can make the transition to digital with an initial $5,000 down payment and then $1,000 per month for the length of the lease. Sony goes on to say that these “operating leases” offer great flexibility for ongoing upgrades, such as upgrades to 3D, as well.
Sony Digital Cinema Solutions’ package includes a Sony 4K projector, 2D lens, screen, server/media block, Screen Management and Theater Management software, central server and storage network, 10-year parts warranty, 2-year labor warranty, 24/7 help desk, Cinewatch (remote system monitoring), as well as shipping costs and installation. The labor warranty can also be extended to ten years as well as to provide preventative maintenance services.
Projector market research firm Pacific Media Associates (PMA) has been following the Digital Cinema market since it’s inception. At the 2012 CinemaCon trade show, put on by NATO (National Association of Theater Owners), PMA noted that independent theater owners were struggling with the digital conversion transition deadlines because of “out of reach” financing . These new options from Sony should help smaller exhibitors to overcome these obstacles.