Exhibition technology is accelerating in Japan with announcements of four new large-scale Imax screens and Japan's first all-digital multiplex.

Major studio Shochiku has announced tech specifications of its new 10-screen multiplex, the Shinjuku Piccadilly, set to open tomorrow (July 19).

In partnership with DLP market leader Christie Digital Systems (in Japan a wholly owned subsidiary of Ushio Denki), all ten screens will be equipped with CP2000 projectors. One screen is also capable of 3D projection. All units will be networked to a central digital cinema server, a first in Japan.

The studio hopes to implement a digital theatre management system (TMS) by year's end. 'Shochiku is exploring the future of a digitised movie industry through Shinjuku Piccadilly' stated Shochiku managing director Teruki Matsumoto.

Shinjuku Piccadilly will become the largest multiplex in urban Tokyo, usurping the Wald 9 which opened down the street last year. Both locations are seen as breaking out of the traditional block booking tracks headed by the rapidly aging Ginza palaces.

On the large format front, Imax Corp and exhibitor Tokyu Recreation have announced a joint venture to construct four new screens in Japan at existing Tokyu theatres.

The first screen will open at the 109 Cinemas in Kawasaki City this November, followed by the 109 Cinemas in Shobu City in early 2009. The location of the remaining two screens will depend on performance of the first two. The two companies have agreed to share costs and profits.

Tokyu's 109 Cinemas chain was an early player in the growing multiplex business in Japan.

The announcement follows last month's Japan premiere of Speed Racer, projected on a custom built Imax screen at Tokyo Dome stadium.