Legendary French film technology firm Technicolor has signed its first deal with a cinema chain to provide a solution that allows theatres to show 3D movies using a traditional 35mm cinema projector.

The new technology costs a fraction of a digital projector and should enable most cinemas to show 3D films. Technicolor states, "We've developed a high-quality solution that addresses the 3-D screen scarcity issue and allows exhibitors an affordable way to bridge the gap to digital.”

The deal has been struck in the US with New York-based Bow Tie Cinemas and involved the installation of its 3D technology in 25 of the chain's 150 screens.

The new technology uses a new lens that splits the images for the left eye and the right eye as the film runs through the projector. The image is 3D when viewed with polarised glasses.

The news will come as a relief to the cinema industry which has so far found the installation of digital 3D very expensive and a shortage of screens has emerged as the popularity of 3D has increased.

The new technology is expected in the Bow Tie Cinemas screens in time for the 26 March opening of Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon.