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.
3. 1978: As a law student at Northwestern University, he gets an option on a million pounds of coal with a professor in a bid to make money on a local coal-worker strike crimping supply.
4. 1980s: Works at New York law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in mergers and acquisitions. Leaves to start a 99-cent dry-cleaning chain, which becomes "a logistical nightmare."
Read more about Rich Gelfond and IMAX on The Wall Street Journal's website.