​IMAX announces new venues in China, expresses confidence in market
By Zhang Rui  ·  2024-04-17  ·   Source:

Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX, has expressed confidence in the Chinese film market while announcing more venues in the country at the annual CinemaCon 2024 convention and trade show in Las Vegas.


A Bona IMAX theater in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. [Photo courtesy of IMAX China] 

According to Gelfond, moviegoing has made a remarkable comeback in China. In recent months, the large premium screen format has consistently achieved strong box office results in China, earning over $19 million from Christopher Nolan's Oscar-winning "Oppenheimer" and more than $15 million so far from Denis Villeneuve's critically acclaimed sci-fi epic "Dune: Part Two." Impressively, IMAX accounted for a significant portion of the box office earnings for both films, despite accounting for less than 1% of China's total screens. For "Oppenheimer," IMAX garnered 30% of the opening weekend box office. Similarly, for "Dune: Part Two," IMAX earned 33% of the opening weekend and 35% of the second weekend's earnings.

IMAX also saw success with "Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire," which earned $7.3 million at the box office during the three-day opening weekend, the highest in China for a Hollywood title since "Avatar: The Way of Water" and the best opening for the franchise. In March, IMAX China experienced its best performance for the month since the pandemic, driven by "Dune: Part Two" and "Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire," reaching $28 million.

Additionally, IMAX is ramping up its efforts in local language productions. During the highly lucrative Spring Festival, the company released IMAX versions of several Chinese blockbusters, such as Jia Ling's "YOLO," Zhang Yimou's "Article 20," Han Han's "Pegasus 2," and the animated feature "Boonie Bears: Time Twist."

As a result of the promising future, during CinemaCon on April 10, IMAX and Bona Film Group announced an expansion of their partnership with an agreement for three new venues in China, set to begin operations in 2026. These new locations across China will be equipped with IMAX with Laser, the company's most advanced experience.

"As IMAX continues to expand further into Chinese films, local language releases from countries including Japan, and new experiences, it's clear that our value proposition for Chinese moviegoers and the opportunity for our business in China are strong," Gelfond said.

"Bona Film has always been committed to providing a premium film experience for audiences," stated Yu Dong, chairman of Bona Film Group. "As the most iconic immersive cinematic experience, IMAX delivers unmatched entertainment value that meets the wide-ranging demands of moviegoers. We believe this expanded partnership with IMAX will drive the continued growth of moviegoing enthusiasm and further strengthen the market."

IMAX and Bona Film Group's partnership has flourished since 2012. The new deal will bring their total number of IMAX locations to 36. This latest agreement, the first between the two companies since the pandemic, highlights the rebound of China's box office and underscores the growing demand among Chinese audiences and exhibitors for the premier movie-watching experience.

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