San Francisco Opera and The Bigger Picture, a subsidiary of Access Integrated Technologies, Inc. (AccessIT) (NASDAQ: AIXD), have announced an agreement for world-wide distribution of six operas per year beginning in early March 2008. Marking the first time that any opera company will utilize the Hollywood feature film quality digital cinema format, the agreement underscores how the era of digital cinema is transforming how and where great entertainment reaches new audiences.
San Francisco Opera embraced technology in May 2007 by transforming its historic War Memorial Opera House into a state-of-the-art production facility with the installation of the Koret-Taube Media Suite, the first permanent high-definition, broadcast-standard video production facility installed in any American opera house. The media suite gives the Company the permanent capability to generate a high-definition, multi-camera live feed of the stage for many uses including digital cinema presentations, its expanding tradition of free outdoor simulcasts and a new program, OperaVision (a program that debuted in June offering full stage, close-up and mid-range ensemble shots in high-definition video on two 5½’ x 9½’ retractable screens for patrons seated in the balcony section of the War Memorial Opera House).
The combination of the San Francisco Opera’s stunning performances, high-definition recording capabilities, and The Bigger Picture’s distribution of operas through its network of digital cinema-equipped theater partners represents a new paradigm for in-theater entertainment. The agreement calls for an all digital 2K release with 5.1 surround sound, ensuring premium picture and sound quality, on theater screens that conform with the highest digital cinema standards as set by the Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC (DCI). DCI, a joint venture of the major movie studios, was created in March 2002 to develop specifications for the technology shift to digital cinema in theaters. San Francisco Opera will be the first opera company in the world to utilize technology at this level, including the highest quality projectors with technology from DLP Cinema® made by Texas Instruments, a key differentiator from other opera series that are currently playing in theaters on projection systems designed for cinema advertising rather than feature movies.
A landmark revenue sharing agreement with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) paves the way for these digital cinema presentations and other electronic media projects. The parties have reached a tentative agreement, pending final ratification, for a four-year experimental agreement that involves a supplemental media fee to clear vastly expanded rights for up to six titles per year. In this new agreement, union members would also participate in revenue sharing on top of the supplemental fee. Earned revenue received by San Francisco Opera, less 20% to the Company as a flat all-inclusive distribution and administration fee, would be split 50/50 with the unionized groups, the conductor, and the designers. The Company’s significant capital investment in technology allows for revenue sharing from the first dollar earned rather than from any calculation of net profits.
“My very first opera experience was actually in a movie theater – hearing Mario Lanza sing in the film, The Great Caruso,” stated San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley. “I vividly remember the power of hearing that incredible voice at a young age and the feeling that I absolutely had to experience a live opera. I am thrilled that this partnership will bring opera to large audiences at a very reasonable price point, an undertaking that I firmly believe will bring more new people to the art form and ultimately into opera houses all over the world. San Francisco Opera strives for the highest possible artistic quality onstage and therefore we’re doubly grateful that our partners at The Bigger Picture and AccessIT are able to take us into the theaters via the highest possible quality digital cinema technology.”
“The promise of digital cinema is about more than simply exchanging 35 mm film prints for digital satellite delivery,” said Jonathan Dern, Co-President of The Bigger Picture. “It enables theaters to become cultural centers for their communities, bringing audiences together to enjoy entertainment experiences previously limited to specific live venues. Audiences will be thrilled with the innovative and world-class operas from San Francisco Opera delivered in stunning 2K digital cinema quality on the big screen – there is nothing that can compare to that experience. Our exhibitor partners across the country are delighted to be able to offer their audiences the opportunity to share in the magic of the San Francisco Opera experience through this new Bigger Picture Opera Channel.”
The initial Digital Cinema Program will feature four showings each of Puccini’s La Rondine; Saint-Saëns’s Samson and Delilah; Mozart’s The Magic Flute; Mozart’s Don Giovanni; Appomattox, a new opera by Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton which premiered in October; and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. For further information, please visit
One of the most respected companies in the world, San Francisco Opera is the second largest opera company in North America. Led by General Director David Gockley and Music Director Donald Runnicles, the Company’s season features approximately seventy-five performances of ten operas between September and July. For more information, visit
. A grant from the Koret Foundation provided lead funding for the Koret-Taube Media Suite initiative, with additional support provided by Tad and Dianne Taube. An anonymous donor committed the remaining required funding.
The Bigger Picture is a leader in the digital distribution of movies targeted to specific audiences. The programs include Kidtoons, G-rated movies for kids on the weekends, anime films for teen and college audiences, concerts including the 2007 South by Southwest Music Festival, the Bon Jovi Lost Highways concert and the Beyonce Birthday concert and inspirational faith-based movies. The Bigger Picture has released 40+ films digitally. For more information, visit
. The company is a subsidiary of Access Integrated Technologies, Inc. (AccessIT) the world leader in providing fully integrated software and services to enable the motion picture entertainment industry and all of its constituents to transition from film to digital cinema and has converted more than 3,700 theatres across 40 states since 2005, representing 80 percent of all digital screens in the United States. Access Integrated Technologies® and AccessITTM are trademarks of Access Integrated Technologies, Inc. For more information on AccessIT, visit
All performances are recorded live at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. Exact performance dates, times and venues will be announced at a later date. For further information, please visit