As Hollywood continues to thrash out industry-wide digital cinema strategy and requirements, Paramount Pictures has gone ahead and unveiled a direct-to-cinema support plan.

The initiative works in tandem with previously announced agreements with Digital Cinema Implementation Partners, Cinedigm (formerly Access IT), Kodak and Sony, but allows theatre owners to seek financing for d-cinema systems locally rather than wait for the more capital-intensive integrator agreements to be completed.

Exhibitors will be allowed to own and control their equipment, which must comply with the standards established by the Digital Cinema Initiative and SMPTE. They will be able to switch to an integrator-supported deal at a later date.

Paramount's domestic distribution president Jim Tharp said the move would provide audiences with 'the very best in Movie viewing.' National Association Of Theatre Owners president and CEO John Fithian welcomed the move and said that while it 'won't work for everyone' it would accelerate digital roll-out in North America.

The studio has signed nine digital cinema integration deals, which it said was more than any other studio. These include domestic agreements with Cinedigm Phase 1 and Phase 2, Kodak, Sony and Digital Cinema Implementation Partners, three deals with European integrators XDC, Arts Alliance Media and Ymagis and two with Asia's DCK and GDC. So far more than 3,500 cinemas have been converted to digital under Cinedigm's Phase 1 plan.