By The Huffington Post on January 24, 2014
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BEIJING—China's Wanda Cinema Line Corp. is expanding its partnership with IMAX Corp. IMX.T +3.92% , signing on 80 new IMAX theaters in a deal that would make China the big-screen company's largest market.
Wanda, a unit of real estate conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group Co. and China's largest movie-theater chain by outlets, plans to open the 80 IMAX theaters by 2021, rolling out 20 each year starting in 2016, said IMAX Chief Executive Richard Gelfond. The company declined to disclose investment details of the deal.
TORONTO -- IMAX has sold another theater to Sasaki Kogyo, set to be the first in Japan to install next-generation laser projection technology.
The theater, to operate under the Cinema Sunshine brand in a new multiplex in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district, will have a projection system that promises far better brightness and clarity than rival movie projectors.
No word on when the latest Cinema Sunshine IMAX theater will open or install laser projection.
When Katniss Everdeen rises from an underground elevator into the arena in Hunger Games: Catching Fire, IMAX viewers will see the film's visuals dramatically change.
The 50-minute arena sequence in this Hunger Games sequel has been formatted for IMAX, resulting in an immersive, larger aspect ratio. Instead of a typical widescreen image, with black bars on top and bottom, the IMAX image expands vertically to fill the entire screen when Katniss (played by Jennifer Lawrence) enters the battlefield.
The first few minutes of the changeover are particularly captivating, as water violently splashes around each character. The trees come alive in both color and movement, and you can see the sweat collect on the tributes' faces. The encompassing experience makes viewers feel as though they are in the arena.
"When I signed on to do the movie, I knew very early on that the arena portion would work very well with IMAX," Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence told Mashable. "The switch to IMAX hits you hard. It's stunning."
Photo Credit: Annie Tritt
The large-format czar talks about the next international push and why Warner Bros. is the St. Louis Cardinals of entertainment.
At a time when moviegoing in the U.S. is down year- over-year, IMAX Corp. is on fire. The large-format exhibitor, once relegated to museums, is responsible for more than 15 percent of Gravity's gross, with moviegoers shelling out $20 or more a head in big cities. The Toronto-based, 550-employee company has seen its revenue balloon from $102.7 million in 2008 to $284.3 million in 2012 thanks in large part to Hollywood tentpoles, while its stock has rocketed from $3.35 a share in early November 2008 to around $30 today. IMAX's global creative czar is Greg Foster, 53, whom IMAX Corp. CEO Rich Gelfond promoted earlier this year to CEO of IMAX Entertainment in recognition of Foster's leadership in building the company's commercial slate and establishing relationships with studios. Foster, who spent 15 years at MGM before joining IMAX in 2001, also oversees the documentaries financed and produced by IMAX. The distributor will release a total of 40 films this year. Tentpoles can see an enormous boost from their IMAX runs; it's not uncommon to add $70 million or more to their bottom line.
Typically, Foster can be found meeting with filmmakers in his Santa Monica office or crisscrossing the globe, tending to 650 commercial IMAX theaters in 56 countries, including 350 sites in North America (not including 125 museum and other institutional locations). The married father of three grown sons remains a fierce family man and won't receive email via his smartphone. He recently sat down with THR to discuss what Hollywood can do better and why IMAX is on such a roll.