NATO Executive Board Approves Resolution to Begin Exhibitor-Led Testing of Digital Cinema Technologies

Reel Blog   

(Beverly Hills, Calif. – October 1, 2019)  The Executive Board of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), at the association’s annual Membership and Board Meetings at the Beverly Hilton, 23-24 September 2019, approved a resolution (attached) laying out aspects of a digital cinema technology evaluation program.

“Digital cinema has opened up the door to a wide range of technological advances,” said NATO Technology Committee chairman John D. McDonald, Executive Vice President, Operations at AMC. “Exhibitors – the primary consumers of these technologies – along with other industry stakeholders, need an open, rational testing program to determine which of these technologies will work in the cinema space.”

In the early days of the digital cinema transition, major film distributors formed Digital Cinemas Initiatives, LLC (DCI) to establish a standard architecture for digital cinema systems known as the “DCI Specification”. Its mission was to create a uniform level of security, technical performance and quality.

DCI member studios subsidized the purchase of digital cinema equipment through Virtual Print Fees (VPFs). With VPFs in most cases ended, or nearing termination, in the domestic market, the costs of new technologies will fall on exhibitors. The pace of technological advance has increased. It is, then, necessary and proper for exhibitors to take the lead in evaluating the impact of light levels, contrast and colorimetry on their patrons and the exhibition environment.

NATO seeks to create an open process to understand and evaluate digital cinema technologies and create metrics to analyze future technologies, and to open this process to include various stakeholders including filmmakers, distributors, manufacturers, service providers and exhibitors.

NATO’s Technology Committee, led by NATO’s technology consultant Jerry Pierce, have already begun initial measuring to prepare for industry-wide testing. The Technology Committee will report its initial findings to membership at NATO annual meetings in 2020.


The National Association of Theatre Owners is the largest exhibition trade organization in the world, representing more than 33,000 movie screens in all 50 states, and more than 32,000 additional screens in 103 countries worldwide.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with a second office in Los Angeles, California, NATO represents its members in the heart of the nation’s capital as well as the center of the entertainment industry. From these vantage points, NATO helps exhibition influence federal policy-making and work with movie distributors on all areas of mutual concern, from new technologies to legislation, marketing, and First Amendment issues.



Patrick Corcoran
Vice President & Chief Communications Officer
[email protected]

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