IMAX to open another 15 cinemas in China

IMAX Corp said it has teamed up with a South Korean cinema chain to open 15 big-screen theatres in China, marking the Canadian company's single biggest deal in Asia.

IMAX signed an agreement with a subsidiary of South Korea's CJ CGV Co Ltd, which already operates five IMAX theatres in South Korea, to install the digital theatre systems in China, the Candian firm said on its website Monday.

CJ CGV will install two IMAX theatres next year, with the rest to be completed by 2015, the statement said, without identifying the locations for the new cinemas.

The two companies will share the box-office receipts from the cinemas.

The deal brings the total number of IMAX theatres scheduled to open in China - the company's second-largest market - to 96, the statement said. There are currently more than 20 IMAX theatres in operation in the country.

IMAX has signed agreements with Guangzhou Jinyi Film & Television Group to open 12 IMAX cinemas in China that are to be completed by year's end, the China Daily reported last month.

It has also signed deals with a private movie exhibitor and a cinema chain operator to install at least six 3D IMAX theatre systems in more than four cities by 2012, the paper said.

In June, the company announced a partnership with Chinese studio Huayi Bros Media Corp to produce three IMAX-formatted movies, it added.

China's box office take in the first half of 2010 - driven by international smash hit "Avatar" - reached 4.84 billion yuan (714 million dollars), up 86 percent from the same period last year, official figures showed.

Officials predict box office receipts will reach 10 billion yuan for all of 2010, compared to less than one billion yuan in 2003.

"Avatar" - one of several 3D blockbusters to hit cinemas this year - is now China's all-time box office champion, grossing 1.3 billion yuan.

IMAX, which specialises in immersive motion picture technologies, operates more than 445 theatres in 47 countries, according to its website.