IMAX to open five more 3D megascreens in Japan

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The Independent Culture

Big screen distributor IMAX Corp says it is planning to build five more megascreens in Japan as it tries to cash in on the success of 3D blockbusters such as "Avatar".

Canadian firm IMAX, which has established a joint venture with Japanese cinema complex operator Tokyu Recreation, will open the new 3D systems by June 2012, on top of its four existing screens in Japan.

The first two new systems will be installed in and around Tokyo in November.

"Those existing IMAX screens have posted consistently strong box office performances with Hollywood IMAX releases, including Twentieth Century Fox's Avatar," the company said in a statement released Monday.

"Avatar", by Oscar-winning director James Cameron, is seen as a 3D milestone compared to the arrival of sound in movies in the 1920s and colour in the 1930s.

It has become the highest-grossing film of all time, raking in eight million dollars at its four Japanese IMAX theatres alone, the company said.

Tokyu Recreation, part of leading real estate and railway operator Tokyu Corp, also plans to add two 3D screens each at its 17 cinema complexes, in addition to the IMAX megascreens, a company spokesman said.

"We would increase the number of such screens even more if more 3D films came out and demand grew," he said.

IMAX, which specialises in immersive motion picture technologies, operates 430 theatres in 48 countries.

IMAX chief executive Richard Gelfond said Japan was "one of the most important entertainment markets in the world".