IMAX screens in China on the increase, February 28, 2012

The recent agreement to allow more American films to be screened in China is likely to lead to an increase in the number of the IMAX screens in China.

According to the agreement, China will import 13 more revenue-sharing films, mainly in the format of IMAX or 3D versions.

Industry experts believe the move will speed up the expansion of IMAX cinemas across China. The number of IMAX screens is expected to reach over a hundred and at least one film in IMAX format will be released each month.

As of February 2012, statistics reveal 75 standard IMAX cinemas are currently in use in China, among which 63 are commercial and 12 are part of state-oriented cultural institutions, such as museums. Compared to the number of IMAX screens open when James Cameron's 'Avatar' was released in 2010 in China, at present there are seven times as many IMAX screens open across the country.

IMAX cinemas are also a great contributor to box office revenues. Tsui Hark's "Flying Swords of Dragon Gate" was screened in 61 IMAX cinemas, taking in 67 million yuan--11% of its total box office revenue. Driven by the quota of imported films and the increase of IMAX screens, the box office contribution rate is expected to rise to 13% for each film screened in IMAX format.

IMAX Corporation has announced its 2012 release schedule. About 15 IMAX/IMAX 3D films will hit mainland screens including confirmed "John Carter" and "Titanic."

Following last year's contract with Wanda group, which aimed to set up 75 IMAX theatre systems, IMAX Corporation and Broadway Theatre Company Ltd., announced two agreements in February to install a total of four digital IMAX theatre systems into new multiplexes across China. It has been said that the possibility of 100 IMAX cinemas operating across China in the near future is very likely.