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IMAX's Greg Foster on 'Gravity's' Appeal, China and 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' (Q&A)

By The Hollywood Reporter: Pamela McClintock à la novembre 6, 2013

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.

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IMAX to Begin Producing Home Theaters in China

By The New York Times: Keith Bradsher à la octobre 29, 2013

HONG KONG — IMAX Corporation, the Canadian company that has long designed and manufactured large-screen cinema equipment on the outskirts of Toronto, plans to announce on Tuesday in Los Angeles that it has set up a joint venture with a Chinese multinational to develop and manufacture $250,000 home theater systems in China.

IMAX’s decision to set up a joint venture with the Shenzhen-based TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings Limited is the latest sign of the powerful lure that China has become for Hollywood and its suppliers. Nicole Kidman, John Travolta, Leonardo DiCaprio and Zhang Ziyi showed up last month in Qingdao, a beach resort in northeastern China, to attend the announcement of a movie-themed real estate development that is to include 20 movie sound sets.

IMAX decided on a joint venture with TCL for the new systems primarily because it expects China to be the largest market for them, Richard L. Gelfond, the chief executive of IMAX, said in a telephone interview. IMAX also concluded that it needed an alliance with a large television manufacturer in order to handle the distribution and service issues associated with selling to a broader range of households, he said.

While acknowledging that low production costs in China had also been an attraction, Mr. Gelfond said that they had not been central. “It’s not because of the low-end cost structure but because it’s the market,” he said.

IMAX already makes $2 million home theater systems for extremely wealthy households at its base in Mississauga, Ontario, and will continue to do so.

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IMAX Buys Ownership Stake in Prima Cinema

By The Los Angeles Times: Richard Verrier à la octobre 28, 2013

Those who can afford to pay $500 to watch a newly released movie in their own home can now add another luxury perk: the ability to watch it on a giant IMAX screen.

IMAX Corp. has agreed to pay about $2.5 million to acquire up to 20% stake in Prima Cinema Inc., the San Diego-area company that releases premium-priced movies into the home when they are released in theaters.

Under the agreement, set to be announced Monday morning, IMAX will use Prima’s service for its luxury private theaters, which cost $2.5 million and have 20-foot-wide screens.

The deal also makes IMAX the exclusive distributor of Prima's systems over the next five years in China, where the Toronto-based technology company has aggressively expanded. China is now the world's second-largest movie market.

The investment in Prima is part of a broader strategy by IMAX to bring its cinema technology into the home, company executives said.

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IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond's Empire

By The Wall Street Journal: Rachel Louise Ensign à la septembre 20, 2013

His past might not sound like the making of a movie-industry giant, but Richard Gelfond is now the CEO of IMAX, a $1.7 billion empire with a presence in more than 700 theaters

Richard Gelfond Bloomberg/Getty Images

Shoeshine boy. A young sports-paper boss. And a 99-cent dry-cleaner owner. His past might not sound like the making of a movie-industry giant, but Richard Gelfond is now the CEO of IMAX, IMX.T -0.20% a $1.7 billion empire with a presence in more than 700 theaters—and part of the movie-going experience for millions of 3D-glasses-wearing film buffs. Now 58 and close with marquee Hollywood figures like director Christopher Nolan, he tells us he made it big because he "was always obsessed by business."

1. 1963: Launches a shoe-shining business at the age of 8 in a barbershop in his Long Island, N.Y., hometown, using his dad's shoeshine kit.

2. 1971: Co-founds New York Ball, a newspaper focused on local sports, as a teen. Publication boasts a circulation of 25,000. Uses the experience to land a job at Newsday in college.

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For 'The Wizard of Oz,' there's no place like IMAX

By USA Today: Claudia Puig à la septembre 19, 2013

A first-rate conversion to a large-screen, 3-D format makes for a wonderfully vivid experience.

(Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)

It's easier now than ever to surrender disbelief.

All these decades later, the ruby slippers sparkle with matchless dazzle, the winding brick road looks incomparably yellow and the Emerald City shines an ever-more-alluring green.

Childhood memories will only be enhanced by the vibrant restoration and sharply rendered conversion of The Wizard of Oz: An IMAX 3D Experience (* * * ½ out of four; rated PG; opening Friday nationwide).

Not only is it the oldest film ever to be converted to 3-D, it's also the most iconic. The blend of old-fashioned, classic storytelling with cutting-edge technology is undeniably enthralling.

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