IMAX in Deal to Open Another Seven Theaters Across China

The IMAX deal is the latest sign that the appetite of Chinese audiences for premium-viewing experiences continues unabated.

IMAX China.

IMAX, IMAX China and Shanghai Bestar Cinemas struck a deal on Tuesday to open seven new IMAX theaters in China’s fast-growing movie market.

The new theaters will be added to new multiplexes across tier two and tier three cities. Six of the theaters are slated to open in 2017, with the remaining theater to open in 2019. Shanghai Bestar already has seven IMAX theaters in operation across the country.

Shanghai Bestar is a subsidiary of major Chinese property developer Future Land Holdings.

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“Our momentum in China shows no signs of slowing as exhibitors gear up for the strong film slate ahead,” IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond said in a statement. “We look forward to growing our partnership with Future Land as they continue to expand their theater circuit throughout China.”

Mr. Wang Zheng, Chief Executive Officer, Shanghai Bestar Cinemas said Bestar IMAX theaters have been performing well at the box office.

“The annual single-seat income at our theaters including Haikou and Shanghai Bestar Theaters will be more than 20,000 yuan at each site,” Zheng said in a statement. “As we aggressively build our circuit’s presence nationwide, we will have 20 cinemas in operation by the end of the year, including 15 IMAX theaters.”

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In April, Imax struck a 40-screen deal with China’s Omnijoi Cinema Development bringing Omnijoi’s total Imax commitment to 72 theaters. At the end of 2016, IMAX China operated 407 commercial screens in the Greater China region, an increase of 117 since the end of 2015.

China’s total number of cinema screens has now exceeded those of the US, according to global auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

According to PwC, China had 41,056 cinema screens in 2016 compared to 40,928 in the U.S. It also suggests that by 2021, the country will have more than 80,000 screens, nearly twice as many as in the U.S..