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Film studios create new standards body

Seven companies say they will work together to promote technical standards for digital filmmaking and viewing. One analyst calls it a "necessary step" in filmmaking.

Seven major U.S. film studios said Tuesday that they have joined forces to promote standards for digital cinema technology.

The core members of the new venture include Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. The studios said they aim to improve the digital movie experience through various initiatives, including adopting open technical standards that would help make competing digital formats compatible and interoperable. The studios said they also hope to spur the use of digital projection equipment in movie theaters.

"It's a necessary step in the evolution of filmmaking," said Jarvis Mak, a senior analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings. "When these movie studios come together, it's not like they're competing against one another...Their interests in coming together to form a standard are all to benefit the whole industry."

The studios said that unlike traditional film, digital formats are not vulnerable to wear and tear. Thus, theaters can show movies multiple times over several months at higher image and audio quality. The studios added that digital formats also improve film distribution to theaters because they can use fiber-optic networks, satellite links or DVD-ROM to deliver movies securely.

"In order to bring the benefits of this technology to the public on a large-scale basis, there need to be industrywide standards so that movie producers, exhibitors and equipment manufactures can be confident that their products and services are interoperable and compatible with the products and service of all industry participants," the studios said in a joint statement. "Digital technology guarantees that all patrons can enjoy the highest-quality film experience."