Market Watch

IMAX Completes Slew of International Deals



Giant screen company, Imax, has signed a number of key deals with international exhibitors in emerging markets of Russia and China, more than trebling its number of new theatre signings.

The largest individual deal was signed with Cinema Park, a leading Russian multiplex chain, for the installation of as many as 14 Imax screens in Russia, of which three will be installed by year end. The remaining seven will be installed by end of 2012, with a further option for another four systems beyond this. Agreement represents the largest deal for Imax in Europe, in turn propelling Russia to the leading European market for Imax with 27 theatres expected to be operational by 2012. The deal follows a recent agreement with fellow Russian exhibitor, Rising Star Media, to install another theatre system in January 2011, on top of its three existing Imax locations across Russia.

Imax has also made significant inroads in China following two significant theatre deals. The first with Lumiere Pavilions comprises three new digital systems to be installed by 2012, the first at the Lumiere Pavilion in Chongqing will open later this year (2010). The second deal concerns installation of eight theatres with Guangzhou Jinyi Film and Television group by 2014. The deal is in addition to the existing four systems already installed and will bring Guangzhou's total Imax screen count to 12 by 2014. Number of Imax screens expected to be operational in China will now hit 65 by 2014, more than double the current total with China now becoming Imax's largest international market and second global market, after the US.

Analysis
As a result of high demand for the Imax brand giant screen experience in emerging markets of Russia and China, Imax has more than tripled its number of new system deals with 144 globally to date in 2010, up from just 35 new screen agreements in 2009. Again, the Imax digital system is at the heart of enabling the rapid progress, based on rapid roll-out and a lower capital cost than the equivalent film-based system. The influx of major studio titles available in 3D has also been a key driver, given that each system is 3D-ready. As at March 2010, Imax had a total of 438 theatres operational, of which 316 were in commercial cinemas.

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