Imax and United Cinemas ink JV for five theatres in Japan

MUMBAI: Imax Corporation and United Cinemas have inked a joint venture agreement to install up to five digital Imax theatre systems in Japan.

Three of the systems are confirmed, with two scheduled to be installed in time for the launch of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this November, and the third scheduled to be installed in either late 2010 or some time in 2011.

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will have an option to install two additional Imax theatre systems in Japan at a later date. The deal brings the total number of confirmed joint-venture Imax theatres scheduled to be operating in Japan by the end of 2010 to eight, compared to four at the end of 2009. In addition, this new theatre deal brings the total number of announced Imax systems signed year-to-date to 92, which compares to 35 system signings in all of 2009.

"Moviegoers in Japan have a growing number of options when deciding how to see a movie, and it is very clear that an increasing number are choosing Imax as the best way to experience the biggest first-run movies. This joint venture partnership enables us to offer our customers the world’s most popular premium cinema brand, and we are very excited to open two or three locations in time for the next Harry Potter release in November," said UC Cinemas CEO Masanori Miyata.

"Entering into a new relationship with a globally recognized exhibitor like United Cinemas is an important milestone for us as we implement our international join venture strategy. Japan is one of the largest exhibition markets in the world and a growing market for Imax. Our existing Imax theatres in Japan have performed extremely well, and we hope the success we’ve had so far opens the market to more Imax theatres. We’re very much looking forward to working with UC to open these initial locations as well as exploring the possibility of additional locations," said Imax CEO Richard L. Gelfond.

Gelfond added, "The Imax Experience continues to resonate with moviegoers around the globe and as a result, driving interest in our business from a diverse mix of new and existing exhibition partners. The overall number of IMAX theatre systems contracted so far this year has already more than doubled the total number of systems signings during 2009, with many of them scheduled to open in 2010 and 2011. Our signing activity is positioning us for significant network growth over the next 12 to 18 months, and we’re optimistic that this momentum will continue in the foreseeable future."