IMAX Corporation (NASDAQ:IMAX; TSX:IMX) and Rave Motion Pictures ("Rave"), the fifth largest theatre exhibition chain in the United States, announced today that they have reached a joint venture agreement for the installation of 13 IMAX digital theatres at Rave locations around the country. Six theatres are scheduled to open in November 2010, and the remaining seven are planned to open in early 2011.
The joint venture agreement is the first between IMAX and Rave and will expand the IMAX® theatre network to moviegoers in key mid-sized markets in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Rave already operates four IMAX film-based theatre systems, three of which will be upgraded to IMAX's digital projection system in 2011 as part of this deal. Upon completion of the roll-out, Rave will operate a total of 17 IMAX theatres across its circuit of 61 theatres. With today's announcement, IMAX's announced number of theatre system signings year-to-date has increased to 153 worldwide, which compares to 35 system signings in all of 2009 and sets a new IMAX record for the most signings in a single year.
"It's very clear that consumers associate the IMAX brand with the best way to go to the movies, and we believe that sentiment fits ideally with the direction and image of the Rave brand," said Tom Stephenson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Rave Cinemas, LLC. Many factors contributed to our decision to expand our IMAX business, including the ongoing success of Hollywood films in the format, the impressive film slate, and the favorable economics of IMAX's digital projection system."
"Rave has rapidly emerged as one of the nation's leading commercial theatre operators, and their prominence and talent for creating destination theatres in key domestic markets make them an ideal partner as we expand our joint venture business in the United States," said IMAX's Chief Executive Officer Richard L. Gelfond. "We anticipate that with the combination of Rave's operating expertise, consumer enthusiasm for the IMAX brand and our upcoming film slate, these 13 systems will produce strong incremental results for both parties. The ability to install these systems by 2011 ensures a quick start to this new partnership and enables us to capitalize on some highly anticipated event movies already slated for IMAX release."
IMAX's digital theatre system delivers The IMAX Experience® 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. The system can run both IMAX and IMAX® 3D presentations.