Chain will be 100% digital on its 800 screens by end of 2012.

Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group, Europe’s largest cinema chain, has announced a deal with Universal Pictures International for UPI to provide digital versions of its releases in the UK and Ireland.

This is the fifth studio deal that Odeon has done and the company notes that it can now “access its funding for the UK part of its full digital roll out.”

The chain expects to be at 100% digital projection on all its 800 screens by 2012, in a move costing more than £70m.

Rupert Gavin, CEO of ODEON & UCI Cinemas Group, said: “The deal with Universal culminates three years of intense preparation for digital by our company, and puts us on track to be Europe’s leading provider of digital screens within the next two years.”

“We’re delighted to be partnering with ODEON in leading the digital cinema transformation in the UK,” added David Kosse, President of International for Universal Pictures. “Universal is committed to digital and especially keen to expand  offerings in digital 3D, with our upcoming 2010 releases Step Up 3D and our fall animated blockbuster Despicable Me.”