Cineworld, the UK cinema chain has joined with technology outfit NEC to double its number of digital screens.

The investment in digital amounts to $5.57m (£4m) and sets the cinema chain up for forthcoming major 3-D films due out later this year, including James Cameron's Avatar.

Under the deal, Cineworld, which operates 775 screens at 75 sites in the UK and Ireland, is adding 74 digital projectors. The company intends to have a total of 148 digital screens fitted and operational, providing one in five screens with digital capability.

The deal will make Cineworld the largest 3-D provider of any UK cinema group.

This year, 13 films in 3-D format are due to be released, including Bolt, Monsters Vs. Aliens, Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

My Bloody Valentine 3-D has taken $4.5 million (£3.3million) in the UK to date, highlighting the appeal of 3-D.

Steve Wiener, CEO of Cineworld Group PLC said 'The decision to go for NEC technology was based on many factors. Ultimately our choice came down to quality, performance and service. The projectors will be in service for many years to come and so having total confidence in their reliability is critical and we definitely have this with NEC.'