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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
UK cinemas share digital windfall
Cinema audience
The chosen cinemas are spread across the country
More than 200 UK cinemas have been chosen to get Lottery money to cut down on Hollywood films in favour of British, classic and arthouse movies.

The 209 cinemas will share 11.7m - equivalent to 56,000 each - to install state-of-the-art digital projectors.

Half the chosen cinemas are owned by two chains and all have pledged to increase specialist film screenings.

The UK Film Council and the government say the scheme will "transform" film choice for fans across the country.

The digital projectors will do away with the need for film reels - making it cheaper for distributors to get independent films seen.

At the end of the day, this is not aimed at cinemas - this is aimed at audiences
Steve Perrin
UK Film Council
The scheme will mean more than four million extra tickets sold for specialist films per year by 2009, the UK Film Council says.

That means an average of two screenings per day at every participating cinema will be arthouse instead of Hollywood films.

"I have to believe that is a wonderful use of public money," said the UK Film Council's Steve Perrin, who has put the scheme together.

Half the chosen cinemas are owned by two multiplex chains - Cine-UK, which runs Cineworld and UGC, and Vue.

Mr Perrin defended the decision to give half the money to two companies, saying the choice of cinemas was based on where they were, not who owned them.

The groundbreaking digital network will give film fans more choice
James Purnell
Culture minister
"For this scheme to work, there has to be a whole range of cinema types," he said.

"If you look at the list we've selected, it ranges from single-screen cinemas in rural Devon right the way through to 20-screen multiplexes in a big city.

"At the end of the day, this is not aimed at cinemas - this is aimed at audiences."

Multiplexes are able to offer more specialist screenings because they have more screens, he added.

Culture minister James Purnell said: "Many cinemagoers often only get the pick of a crop of big budget blockbuster films, particularly outside London. That is going to change.

"The groundbreaking digital network will give film fans more choice."

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