IMAX Expanding in China and N.A.

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

Wanda Cinema Line Corporation, one of the fastest growing and most competitive cinema chains in China is the latest Chinese movie theatre company to either make or expand agreements with IMAX Corporation, Mississauga, Ontario.

In Wanda’s case, it is an expansion of its relationship, with the installation of three additional IMAX systems in the cities of Quanzhou, Wuhan and Dalian. These theatres are in addition to the four IMAX locations the exhibitor already operates and the seven IMAX locations it currently has scheduled to open. The agreement brings the total number of IMAX theatres to be operated by Wanda Cinema Line by the end of 2012 to 14.

Five of the 14 IMAX locations operated by Wanda Cinema Line are scheduled to be opened and available to consumers in time for the highly-anticipated release of ‘Aftershock’, the first Chinese film to be digitally re-mastered into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience.

In early June, IMAX and Stellar Investment Co. Ltd., a leading Chinese entertainment and media company that operates a network of 15 theatres across major Chinese cities under the name Stellar Cinemas, made an agreement to install two digital IMAX theatre systems into multiplexes in Shanghai and Beijing. The first location is scheduled to be installed in the Shanghai Stellar Zhengda Multiplex in Shanghai in time for the release of ‘Aftershock’. The other location is scheduled to be installed in Beijing as part of a new complex which is expected to be completed in 2011.

Speaking from the Shanghai International Film Festival, Richard Gelfond, IMAX’s CEO, said, “Our momentum in China continues as we build on existing relationships with high profile exhibitors and enter the business of releasing local language IMAX releases.“

The People’s Republic of China is IMAX Corporation’s fastest-growing market, with more than 50 IMAX theatres scheduled to be operating in China by 2012.

In the U.S. market, also earlier in June, IMAX and AMC Entertainment announced an expansion of the companies’ joint venture agreement to include installation of between 15 and 25 new IMAX theatres. These theatres, which are part of an amendment to the parties’ original 2007 agreement, are in addition to AMC’s current roll-out of 104 IMAX joint venture theatres, 79 of which are in operation and 25 of which are expected to open by the end of 2010 in the U.S. and Canada.

The companies intend to open the 15 to 25 new IMAX theatres in 2011 in both new markets and some markets where AMC already operates IMAX theatres in North America. Upon completion of the full AMC IMAX theatre roll-out, AMC will operate between 125 and 135 IMAX theatres.

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