Rich Gelfond: IMAX boss who started off shining shoes
By BBC News: Shanaz Musafer on June 23, 2013
As an eight-year-old boy Rich Gelfond used to shine shoes to earn some money.
At 16 he was running his own newspaper in New York, with a circulation of about 25,000. The paper attracted national advertisers and he would walk up and down Madison Avenue selling space.
As someone who showed such entrepreneurial spirit as a child, it is perhaps not surprising that he has ended up running a large and successful business.
Some 50 years on from his shoe-shining days, Mr Gelfond is now chief executive of IMAX, the giant-screen, high-resolution cinema chain.
Underestimated the task
In 1994 he and business partner Brad Wechsler completed the purchase of the company.
The entrepreneur in him saw an opportunity to take what had up until then been a company focusing on large-screen film formats in museums and science centres, and take it into much more commercial venues and show more commercial films.
However, the task at hand was harder than they imagined, not helped by the fact IMAX films traditionally had to be shot on special expensive cameras.
"Probably the biggest thing we underestimated was the history of the movie business. There was a 100-year history where studios and exhibitors did things a certain way and there was a real reticence to change," he says.
Mr Gelfond and Mr Wechsler met top directors, including Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, "to try and get them into the IMAX business", but they were reluctant to change their way of doing things.
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