IMAX Corporation (NYSE: IMAX; TSX: IMX) and Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE: EK) announced today a relationship that will broaden the application of digital cinema technologies in theatres and enhance the consumer's movie-going experience.
The companies announced that IMAX has licensed from Kodak certain exclusive rights in the digital cinema field to a portfolio of more than 50 patent families covering fundamental laser projection technology. IMAX also licensed from Kodak certain exclusive rights in the digital cinema field to a broader range of Kodak patents covering complementary technologies useful for laser projection products. While the agreement is royalty bearing to Kodak, the specific terms of the deal were not announced.
IMAX's licensing of Kodak's revolutionary laser projection technology and patents will enable IMAX, for the first time ever, to deliver the highest-quality digital content available to IMAX® film-based screens larger than 80 feet and to dome theatres. This technology also will allow IMAX to distribute content with greater efficiency to the company's global theatre network.
"This Kodak intellectual property is truly cutting edge, and will be used by IMAX's esteemed Technology Group to enhance the cinematic experience for consumers, enable the application of digital technology in our larger and institutional theatres, and make being in business with IMAX even easier and more profitable," said IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond. "It is a testament to Kodak's strong heritage in film and tradition of excellence that we believe this deal further differentiates IMAX in terms of innovation and technological advancement in large-screen cinematic experiences."
IMAX expects to introduce the new laser-projection technology by the second half of 2013 and that it will provide the company's largest screen and dome customers - which have previously only had access to analog film - with a full array of digital content, which often includes Hollywood's biggest IMAX DMR® titles.
Kodak engineers will work closely with IMAX engineers over the next 18 months to assist with the implementation of the technology into the IMAX product family.
"We are delighted to be licensing our technology to a company as innovative as IMAX," said Kim Snyder, President, Entertainment Imaging, and Vice President, Eastman Kodak Company. "Because this technology produces the deepest blacks, and the brightest 3D of any system demonstrated to date, it will truly make the movies more exciting for consumers, and that creates a strong value proposition for the studios and exhibitors as well. That's the ultimate measure of this relationship. We look forward to working with the IMAX team to make this vision a reality."
Today's announcement follows IMAX's September 2010 equity investment in Laser Light Engines (LLE), an initiative centered around developing technology to illuminate existing digital screens to IMAX standards. The Kodak technology is expected to extend these efforts and allow the illumination of IMAX 80-to-100-foot screens and domes with a brightness and clarity not currently attainable in these formats. The solution will also consume less power, last longer and have a wider color gamut when compared with existing technology.
"This license, combined with LLE and IMAX's own intellectual property, puts us at the forefront of laser-based projection and will provide moviegoers, exhibitors and filmmakers around the world the level of quality for which the IMAX® brand is known," said Gelfond.