IMAX announces 75-theatre agreement with Wanda in China

25 March 2011 14 h 53 min 27 comments

The agreement is largest international deal ever for IMAX, and second-largest in company history. Imax forms wholly-owned subsidiary to oversee expanding IMAX business in greater China
NEW YORK and BEIJING – IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX) (TSX:IMX), one of the world’s most recognized entertainment brands and the leader in delivering awe-inspiring entertainment experiences, today announced a 75-theatre joint revenue sharing agreement with Wanda Cinema Line Corporation. IMAX also announced the formation of IMAX China to oversee the expansion of the rapidly growing IMAX business in the market.

Wanda Cinema Line is the largest theatre operator in China and is on a very aggressive build-out trajectory,” said IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond. “Wanda’s theatres, including their IMAX(R) theatres, have been very successful, and we believe this large rollout of IMAX theatres will be a very successful arrangement for both companies.”

This agreement with Wanda, which represents IMAX’s first full revenue-sharing agreement in China and its largest single international partnership to date, brings the total number of IMAX theatres slated to be open or in backlog in Greater China to 177 over the next few years. Under the terms of the new partnership, IMAX will install its latest digital theatre system technology into 25 of the exhibitor’s multiplex locations this year, with the remainder to be rolled out in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

“Including IMAX theatres has set our complexes and developments apart and we are very excited to significantly expand our network of IMAX locations and to offer The IMAX Experience(R) to more of our customers throughout the country,” said Chairman Wang of Wanda Cinema Line Corporation. “IMAX represents a premium movie-going experience, and is a key component of our development now and in the future.”

Wanda, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dalian Wanda Group, is the largest cinema operator in the People’s Republic of China, as well as the country’s largest operator of IMAX theatres, with 10 theatres open to date and another 81 theatres in backlog. With today’s announcement, Wanda is poised to become the largest operator of IMAX theatres outside of North America and the second-largest operator of IMAX theatres worldwide with a total commitment of 91 theatres.

“China has been our fastest-growing market in the world and extremely successful on a per-screen basis,” said Mr. Gelfond. “We have been working for almost a year on a new corporate and legal structure to operate in China to reflect our expanding business in the region and facilitate our transition to the increased use of a joint revenue sharing model. This agreement with Wanda gives us significant momentum to expand our network in China.”

Establishment of IMAX China (Hong Kong), Limited (“IMAX China”)

Greater China is IMAX’s second-largest market globally, with some of the network’s highest-grossing IMAX theatres in the world. The Company believes that this, coupled with the significant opportunity the Greater China exhibition market presents, provides the strategic rationale for the establishment of IMAX China (Hong Kong), Limited (“IMAX China”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of IMAX. IMAX China was established to oversee the expanding IMAX business in Greater China. IMAX China is also in the process of organizing a wholly foreign-owned entity in the People’s Republic of China in order to manage the day-to-day operations of IMAX China in China.

About IMAX China
IMAX China is a wholly-owned subsidiary of IMAX Corporation, and is incorporated under the laws of Hong Kong. IMAX China was established by IMAX Corporation specifically to oversee the expansion of IMAX’s business throughout Greater China.
 

About IMAX Corporation
IMAX Corporation is one of the world’s leading entertainment and technology companies, specializing in the creation and delivery of premium, awe-inspiring entertainment experiences. With a growing suite of cutting-edge motion picture and sound technologies, and a globally recognized entertainment brand, IMAX is singularly situated at the convergence of the entertainment industry, innovation and the digital media world. The industry’s top filmmakers and studios are utilizing IMAX theatres to connect with audiences in extraordinary ways, and as such, the IMAX network is among the most important and successful theatrical distribution platforms for major event films around the globe. The Company’s new digital projection and sound systems – combined with a growing blockbuster film slate – are fueling the rapid expansion of the IMAX network in established markets such as North America, Western Europe, and Japan, as well as emerging markets such as China and Russia. IMAX theaters deliver the world’s best cinematic presentations using proprietary IMAX(R), IMAX 3D(R), and IMAX DMR(R) (Digital Re-Mastering) technologies. IMAX DMR enables virtually any motion picture to be transformed into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience(R).
IMAX is headquartered in New York, Toronto and Los Angeles, with offices in London, Tokyo and Shanghai. As of December 31, 2010, there were 518 IMAX theatres (396 commercial, 122 institutional) operating in 46 countries.
 

About Wanda Cinemas
Wanda Cinemas, the top-ranked exhibitor in Asia, owns 71 modern, high-end chain movie theatres and 600 projection screens, and has maintained a stable lead in market share in China, with a total gain of 1.7 billion Yuan in 2010, a 66.7% increase in comparison to 970 million Yuan in 2009. Wanda Cinemas aims to build core competitive strength of a high-end movie theatre chain service brand. “Chain operation capacity, innovative marketing capacity and service brand capacity” have become the three fundamental elements that underline the core competitiveness of Wanda Cinemas. It is planned to open 120 cinemas by 2012 which are estimated to have 1,100 screens, and generate annual revenue of 3.5 billion Yuan accounting for more than 20% of total market share nationwide, becoming one of the top-ranking cinemas in the world.

SOURCE: IMAX Corporation (24/03/2011)

IN THE PRESS:

. Imax signs with China’s Wanda Cinema Line  (The Hollywood Reporter, 23/3/11)

. Imax signs 75-theatre deal with China’s Wanda Cinema (Reuters, 24/03/11)

. China’s movie audience is increasingly enjoying the “ultimate viewing experience” (Wanda.com, 26/03/11)

. Imax on a tear after investors see big picture on China deal (The Globe & Mail, 26/3/11)

. IMAX to Build 75 Screens in China Over Three Years (The Hollywood Reporter, 24/03/11)

. China’s Film Industry Prepares for Big Leaps in the Year of the Rabbit (The Hollywood Reporter, 24/03/11)

. Chinese box office predicted to exceed North American within decade (Relax News, 30/3/11)

. Imax to Open 75 New Theaters in China (NY Times, 24/3/11)

. China May Become Largest Market For IMAX, But Will They Have Enough Films To Show? (Beijing Today, 25/3/11)

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