Canadian exhibitor Cineplex Entertainment has signed a long-term agreement to install a minimum of 175 3D systems from LA-based technology company RealD.

Cineplex currently has 41 such systems in operation; however, the expansion is contingent on Cineplex's entering a digital deployment agreement with Digital Cinema Implementation Partners (DCIP), the technology acquisition joint venture set-up by US cinema circuits Regal, AMC, and Cinemark.

Earlier this month, Cinemark signed a much larger similar deal with RealD that will add 1,500 3D screens to its circuit. That deal too is contingent on definitive agreements between DCIP and the major US distributors over such issues as digital print costs. If said agreements are finalized, RealD will be on track to surpass the 5000-system milestone.

The moves anticipate an unprecedented release slate of more than a dozen 3D titles over the next 18 months including DreamWorks Animation's Monsters vs. Aliens, 20th Century Fox's Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and James Cameron's Avatar. The majority of the Cineplex installations will be completed in 2009.

In a joint release, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and other studio chiefs as well as Cineplex president and CEO Ellis Jacob and RealD chairman and CEO Michael Lewis enthused on the potential renaissance in exhibition. RealD compared the impact of 3D with the advent of colour film.

The technology company claims to be the 'global leader in 3D', with 90 per cent of the worldwide digital 3D market and 97 per cent of the North American market. Its systems operate in 27 countries.