Japan's Toho and Kadokawa Holdings will partner with telecommunications giant NTT to implement digital distribution of feature films to their cinemas beginning this spring.

Toho will upgrade 31 of its sites with servers and digital projectors while Kadokawa Cineplex will upgrade all 14 of its sites. After installations are complete, a total of 407 screens will be equipped for digital distribution and projection.

NTT group companies, NTT East and NTT West, will employ their high-speed fibre-optic network, launched last March, to deliver the large amounts of data.

The initiative will enable Toho and Kadokawa to cut costs of striking and shipping prints, as well as guaranteeing high picture quality throughout a film's theatrical run.

The technology will also be used to screen live sporting events, concerts and other non-feature film contents. The trend has gained popularity in recent years as exhibitors have struggled to earn on admissions that have remained flat as the country's screen count has swollen to over 3,000 over the past decade.

Two years ago, NTT cellular group company DoCoMo invested $43m (Y4bn) in Kadokawa Group Holdings. The move has seen DoCoMo join Kadokawa-led production consortiums, including February release Penguins In The Sky - Asahiyama Zoo, and partner on a service to purchase movie tickets at Kadokawa cinemas via mobile phone.

As Japan's largest distributor-exhibitor, Toho currently operates 550 screens. Toho enjoyed a record breaking year with revenues of approximately $795m (Y74bn).