Singapore exhibitor Eng Wah Organization is collaborating with Barco and two government agencies to install 20 2K digital projectors - a move that pushes the tiny city-state of Singapore to the forefront of digital cinema technology.

The roll-out is backed by Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) - a government body which aims to establish the territory as a global IT hub - and the Media Development Authority (MDA) which is concerned with content.

Eng Wah has set Disney animation Brother Bear as its first commercial digital release, starting with a gala premiere at the Eng Wah Suntec Cineplex on November 27.

The collaboration was announced both in Singapore and at the CineAsia conference in Bangkok (Nov 18-20) where Brother Bear also received a digital cinema presentation courtesy of Barco.

"Our aim to innovate and continue using the latest technology available in the world for our cinemas ties in strategically with IDA's goal to make Singapore a global digital exchange," said Eng Wah managing director Goh Min Yen.

"Through this, IDA targets to increase the value of digital transactions though Singapore from the current US$87.4m to US$291m by 2006," said IDA chief executive Tan Ching Yee.

According to the IDA, the move means that Singapore will have the third highest number of digital screens in the world - 21 in all - behind the US with 79 and China with 35. Singapore's Cathay Organization also has a digital screen although it uses older technology.

Thailand's SF Cinema City recently claimed to be first Asian exhibitor to use 2K technology when it installed a Christie CP2000-H projector in a cinema in Bangkok.