IMAX Corp. has inked a deal with state-owned Shanghai Film Corp. to open 19 new theaters in China, aiming to attract Chinese investment and partners ahead of a planned public listing of its China operations, Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The new theaters are expected to open in the second half of 2015, an IMAX spokesperson was quoted as saying. The company may soon reach an agreement for six more screens with another Chinese partner, according to chief executive Richard Gelfond.
As China is becoming more important for the big-movie-screen company, it plans to open more than 246 screens in the next five years, taking the total number of screens in China to about 420, the report said. In North America, IMAX currently operates 340 screens.
IMAX has benefited from the success of the fourth installment of “Transformers” movie in China, Gelfond said. Since its opening in late June, the film is said to have generated US$34 million in box-office revenue for IMAX in China.
Last year, the company’s China revenue rose 26 percent to US$56.5 million from a year ago, while North America revenue declined 6.5 percent to US$136.2 million, according to the report.
The New York-listed firm has been planning a public offering of its China business in Shanghai or Hong Kong in the next five years to increase the number of screens it runs across China. It also plans to sell IMAX at-home theater units in China in 2015 in cooperation with television manufacturer TCL.
China’s box-office revenue reached 13.74 billion yuan, or US$2.21 billion, in the first six months of this year, up 25 percent over the same period last year, according to the state media regulator. IMAX is said to holds 4 percent market share in China’s theater market.
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