IMAX Corporation (NASDAQ:IMAX; TSX:IMX) and Tokyu Recreation, the owner of 109 Cinemas (10 is "To" and 9 is "kyu"), one of Japan's largest exhibition chains, today announced a joint venture agreement to install up to four IMAX(R) theatres in Japan. The agreement marks IMAX's second international joint venture deal, as the Company aligns itself with top exhibitors worldwide with its new IMAX(R) Digital theatre system. To date, IMAX has signed contracts for more than 180 IMAX Digital theatre systems, with approximately 50 expected to be installed by the end of 2008.
The announcement follows a record-setting movie event in Japan, where 25,000 people, the largest IMAX audience ever for a single screening, enjoyed the Japanese premiere of Speed Racer: The IMAX Experience on June 29 at the Tokyo Dome. The Tokyo Dome, which is a traditional venue for concerts and sporting events, was converted into a huge IMAX theatre for the event.
Under the terms of the joint venture agreement, IMAX and Tokyu Recreation will share the cost and profitability of the new theatres. The first theatre is scheduled to be installed at the 109 Cinemas Kawasaki in the city of Kawasaki in November of this year, followed by another in early 2009 at the 109 Cinemas Shobu in the city of Shobu. Each theatre will be equipped with IMAX's new digital projection system. The third and fourth systems are subject to mutual agreement on sites, projected rates of return and certain other factors.
"IMAX's new digital theatre system offers us the best of both worlds - we can deliver an immersive cinematic experience that cannot be replicated at home or in a conventional theatre, and we can enjoy the economical and logistical benefits of a digital theatre system," said Hitoshi Sato, President of Tokyu Recreation. "Over the past four decades, people in Japan have recognized the IMAX brand as being synonymous with the world's most immersive cinematic experience, and we are excited to become a part of that prestigious recognition, as our locations transform into destinations for consumers who want to see Hollywood's biggest movies in the most powerful format."
"Exhibitor response to our IMAX Digital system has been extremely positive in North America and now we're starting to see increasing enthusiasm internationally," said IMAX's Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs, Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler. "Japan is an important market for IMAX, and we believe this partnership, combined with our new digital theatre system, will serve as a catalyst for further expansion into additional international commercial markets."
The highly anticipated IMAX Digital projection delivers The IMAX Experience(R) and helps drive profitability for studios, exhibitors and IMAX theatres by eliminating the need for film prints, increasing program flexibility and ultimately increasing the number of movies shown on IMAX screens. IMAX Digital theatres will be capable of presenting Hollywood movies that have been digitally re-mastered into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience with IMAX DMR(R) technology in both IMAX and IMAX(R) 3D, as well as original IMAX 3D documentary-style movies that are entertaining and educational.
The current IMAX film slate for the remainder of 2008, 2009 and 2010 includes:
The Dark Knight - Warner Bros. Pictures - July 18, 2008
Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa - DreamWorks Animation - November 7, 2008
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Warner Bros. Pictures - November 21, 2008
Under the Sea 3D - Warner Bros. Pictures - February, 2009
Monsters vs. Aliens 3D - DreamWorks Animation - March, 2009
Hubble 3D (working title) - Warner Bros. Pictures - February, 2010
How to Train Your Dragon 3D - DreamWorks Animation - March, 2010
Shrek Goes Fourth 3D - DreamWorks Animation - May, 2010