IMAX, partners to expand theater footprint in China
Last Updated: 2014-07-23 07:17 | China Daily
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A Wanda cinema in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province. CHINA DAILY

Movie theater company IMAX Corp signed a deal on Monday with three Shanghai companies to increase the number of IMAX screens throughout China.

The three Shanghai companies are the State-owned Shanghai Film Corp, Shanghai United Circuit Co Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shanghai Film Corp, and Shanghai SFG-EPR Cinema Development & Management Co Ltd - a joint venture in which Shanghai Film Corp holds a major share.

The deal will see 19 IMAX theaters open up in China before the end of 2015, bringing the total IMAX theaters Shanghai Film Corp has to 22, making it the fifth-largest global partner of IMAX Corp.

"We have witnessed demand for the IMAX experience increase exponentially and as we embark on a major expansion of our exhibition business, IMAX will serve as the anchor attraction for our new sites," said Zhu Zhongxiang, general manager of Shanghai Film Corp.

"Our strong box-office results in China and our strengthening presence within the China entertainment ecosystem continue to yield results, as evidenced by today's significant commitment with the Shanghai Film Corp," said Richard L. Gelfond, chief executive officer of IMAX Corp.

IMAX Corp's year-to-date box office takings have increased by 50 percent, an increase largely due to the huge success of Paramount Pictures' Transformers: Age of Extinction.

The movie set a new opening weekend record for IMAX Corp in China with box-office receipts totaling $9.75 million, more than double the previous record set by Titanic, and reinforced IMAX Corp's recent discovery that China is the company's second-largest and fastest-growing market.

IMAX Corp plans to open another 246 new screens worldwide. China has over 170 IMAX screens, while North America has 340 IMAX screens.

Earlier this year, IMAX China completed an agreement to sell a 20 percent stake to CMC Capital Partners, run by Li Ruigang, and FountainVest Partners, a leading China-focused private equity firm.

According to PwC's recent global entertainment and media outlook 2014-2018, movie entertainment is one of the fastest-growing segments in China with a compound annual growth rate of 13 percent through 2018 and is the second-largest cinema market in the world.

China's movie industry is estimated to be growing at four or five times faster than its GDP, as the number of screens in the country grows, said the PwC report.

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