EXCLUSIVE: In 1994, Richard Gelfond didn’t know that much about the movie business. He was an investment banker, a lawyer and an entrepreneur and together with his business partner Brad Wechsler, snapped up IMAX, a nice purveyor of nature and science documentaries.
When it came to expanding to more blockbuster fare, there was a bit of catch 22: Studios wouldn’t shoot movies in IMAX unless there were more commercial theaters and exhibs wouldn’t build more theaters unless there were more IMAX studio releases. Eventually, Imax developed a model that worked, and now the major studios, particularly when it comes to their tentpoles, can’t live without IMAX.
Not to mention filmmakers, including Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird and Michael Bay can’t live without their large format cameras. IMAX is that extra boost that makes all the difference at the box office. This month, IMAX saw its widest release ever with Furious 7 at 809 theaters, generating $22M in its opening global frame (U.S. alone grossed $14M, repping close to 10% of the $147.2M domestic opening).