IMAX signs install deal with one of Japan’s largest theater chains after Speed Racer opens ‘huge’

IMAX Corporation and Tokyu Recreation, which owns 109 Cinemas (10 is “To” and 9 is “kyu”), one of Japan’s largest theater chains, announced a joint venture agreement to install four IMAX theaters in Japan. The agreement marks IMAX’s second international joint venture, as the Company aligns itself with top exhibitors worldwide with its new IMAX Digital projection system. To date, IMAX has signed contracts for more than 180 of the new systems, with approximately 50 expected to be installed by the end of 2008.

The announcement follows a record-setting movie event in Japan, where 25,000 people, the largest IMAX audience ever for a single screening, enjoyed the Japanese premiere of Speed Racer: The IMAX Experience on June 29 at the Tokyo Dome. The Tokyo Dome, which is a traditional venue for concerts and sporting events, was converted into a huge IMAX theater for the event.

Under the terms of the joint venture agreement, IMAX and Tokyu Recreation will share the cost and profits of the new theaters. The first is scheduled to be installed at the 109 Cinemas Kawasaki in the city of Kawasaki in November of this year, followed by another in early 2009 at the 109 Cinemas Shobu in the city of Shobu. Each theater will be equipped with IMAX’s new digital projection system. The third and fourth system locations are still being researched.

IMAX’s new digital theatre system offers us the best of both worlds – we can deliver an immersive cinematic experience that cannot be replicated at home or in a conventional theatre, and we can enjoy the economical and logistical benefits of a digital theatre system. Over the past four decades, people in Japan have recognized the IMAX brand as being synonymous with the world’s most immersive cinematic experience, and we are excited to become a part of that prestigious recognition, as our locations transform into destinations for consumers who want to see Hollywood’s biggest movies in the most powerful format,

said Hitoshi Sato, President of Tokyu Recreation.

Exhibitor response to our IMAX Digital system has been extremely positive in North America and now we’re starting to see increasing enthusiasm internationally, and Japan is an important market for IMAX, and we believe this partnership, combined with our new digital theatre system, will serve as a catalyst for further expansion into additional international commercial markets,

said IMAX Co-Chairmen, Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler.

The highly anticipated IMAX Digital projection eliminates the need for film prints, increasing program flexibility and is espected the number of movies shown on IMAX screens. IMAX Digital theatres will be capable of presenting Hollywood movies that have been digitally re-mastered into the unique image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience with IMAX DMR technology in both IMAX and IMAX 3D.

The current IMAX film slate for the remainder of 2008, 2009 and 2010 includes:

  • The Dark Knight – Warner Bros. Pictures – July 18, 2008
  • Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa – DreamWorks Animation – November 7, 2008
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – Warner Bros. Pictures – November 21, 2008
  • Under the Sea 3D – Warner Bros. Pictures – February, 2009
  • Monsters vs. Aliens 3D – DreamWorks Animation – March, 2009
  • Hubble 3D (working title) – Warner Bros. Pictures – February, 2010
  • How to Train Your Dragon 3D – DreamWorks Animation – March, 2010
  • Shrek Goes Fourth 3D – DreamWorks Animation – May, 2010

Tokyu Recreation belongs to the Tokyu Group which is one of the biggest enterprise groups. Tokyu Recreation has more than 60 years of experience as an exhibitor and operates 15 cinema complexes such as 109 Cinemas chain as well as 9 first-run movie theaters in Japan. Besides the theater business, it has two other businesses; a Sports and Leisure Business that operates bowling alleys and futsal facilities and a Real-Estate Leasing Business for leasing of real estate.

IMAX Corporation is one of the world’s leading digital entertainment and technology companies. The worldwide IMAX network is among the most important and successful theatrical distribution platforms for major event Hollywood films around the globe, with IMAX theatres delivering the world’s best cinematic presentations using proprietary IMAX, IMAX 3D, and IMAX DMR technology. IMAX DMR is the Company’s groundbreaking digital remastering technology that allows it to digitally transform virtually any conventional motion picture into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience. IMAX’s renowned projectors and new digital systems display crystal-clear images on the world’s biggest screens.

Film Fetish Trivia: As of March 31, 2008, there were 298 IMAX theatres operating in 40 countries around the world.

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