Half of the world's cinema screens could be digital by 2013, according to predictions from Dodona Research. A total of 4,627 screens have been converted as of September 2007, representing about 5% of the global total.

Dodona analysts estimate that the potential market for digital cinema equipment could be $8bn.

Report author Karsten-Peter Grummitt noted: 'The next step in the market's evolution is probably going to need a fall in the price of equipment, or higher virtual print fees, or bigger exhibitor contributions, or all of these. Strategies in this market need to move on from the 'who pays'' face-off of the last few years to focus on how to get this done.'

Digital 3D could help sway the industry further. 'There is a consensus building up that 3D will be the driver that takes the market to the next level,' Dodona said. At least 5,000 3D systems are expected to be in place by 2009.

The digital debate needs to move beyond distributors and exhibitors, the report says. 'While most of the debate about digital cinema has revolved around film distributors and exhibitors, in practice these businesses will be relatively little affected compared to film processing laboratories and the film transport business,' the report said. 'In particular, the $1.5bn market for release printing will, the report predicts, all but disappear, while in the long run the film transport business will be superseded by delivery by satellite or over other digital networks.'

Dodona pointed out that Access Integrated Technologies was responsible for 80% of digital cinema installations to date (followed by XDC, Arts Alliance Media and Technicolor), but that current business models weren't set for the long term.

In the equipment market, Christie has a 77% share of the 2K and 4K market, followed by Barco with 14% and NEC with 8%. In the server market, Doremi has an 80% share of 2K and 4K installations, followed by Dolby with 9% and XDC with 5%.