US film and imaging giant Eastman Kodak Company and Europeandigital projector supplier Barco have formed a strategic alliance to providedigital cinema systems to exhibitors around the world.

The alliance is designed to both sell - and provide supportfor - digital cinema systems and services and to allow the two companies tocollaborate on the development of new digital solutions.

Describing the alliance as "the first one-stop shop in theindustry," Nico Vernieuwe, vice president of Belgium-based Barco DigitalCinema, said the collaboration would benefit customers by providing simplifiedpackages, a global service network and continual innovation.

Bill Doeren, general manager of Los Angeles-based KodakDigital Cinema, said the collaboration would start in the marketing, sales andservice areas. The companies are already working together in three multiplexesin key US cities, he added.

Barco and Kodak will each retain the ability to sell theirproducts and services individually.

Barco, one of only three licensees of Texas Instruments DLPCinema Technology, has already installed 2K digital projectors in nearly 200screens worldwide.

It has a 45-50% share of the worldwide market for the supplyof digital cinema systems, Vernieuwe said at a Los Angeles press conferenceannouncing the strategic alliance. It is biggest in Europe, where its marketshare is more than 80%, and Asia, where its share is greater than 50%. In theUS, the company has a market share of around 30%, said Vernieuwe.

Barco's projectors were recently used to bring the digitalpremieres of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith to theatres in majorEuropean cities.

Kodak Digital Cinema, a division of Eastman Kodak, is theleading US provider of digital pre-show systems, supplying more than 1,000cinemas in North America.

Doeren said the alliance partners see big opportunity in thetransition from traditional film to digital projection. "Digital cinema, thoughit's been a long time coming, is poised for significant growth," he said.

"We don't believe anyone else can offer the strength incombination of the two brands that Kodak and Barco bring to the table," headded.

Doeren pointed to a 78% increase - to 335 - in the number ofcommercial digital screens worldwide between 2003 and 2004 and a 30% rise inthe number of Hollywood movies released for digital exhibition.

Kodak and Barco will tout their alliance with demonstrationsand other activities at next week's Cinema Expo International trade show inAmsterdam.