A year after IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond announced plans to triple the company's presence in mainland China, building over 70 super-sized cinema screens by 2014, this week the Canadian company signed its third deal with Chinese exhibitor Omnijoi to build five more digital theaters in China. This follows an agreement between IMAX and Omnijoi that doubled the latter's number of digital IMAX theaters to eight. According to a press release issued today, Omnijoi will install its five new IMAX theaters in 2014 and 2015 in solidly second- and third-tier cities, including Qingdao, Nantong, Suzhou, and two "unspecified locations." This, according to the release, brings Omnijoi Cinemas' total IMAX commitment to 13 theatres, which includes a theatre currently open in the city of Suzhou and another that is slated to open in Nanjing next month.
With the signing of this deal, IMAX's stable of current and upcoming screens in China is up to 225, with 92 of them already operational. Worldwide, as of March 31, 2012, there are 643 IMAX theatres (510 commercial multiplex, 20 commercial destination and 113 institutional) in 52 countries.
The latest IMAX deal comes at a time when Chinese film-goers are showing a real appetite for the giant film format, despite high ticket prices -- a point not lost on Hollywood, which is increasing China co-productions to tap the country's growing box office. This April, IMAX announced that Titanic 3D took in US$7 million in China on its opening weekend alone, setting a new record for the country and overtaking previous leader Transformers: Dark of the Moon. More recently, Men In Black III grossed $19.5 million on IMAX screens in China, surpassing its haul in South Korea and Japan combined.