The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has grossed $18 million in IMAX theaters worldwide and $12.6 million in 347 screens in North America since its Friday release. That’s the best three-day domestic opening for November in IMAX history, topping the previous record set by Sony’s Skyfall in November 2012, IMAX said today. The second film in the Hunger Games franchise also led IMAX to its second best overall weekend ever with total worldwide grosses reaching $25.7 million.
UPDATE 6:30 AM PT: IMAX has released full details of its joint venture with TCL, including that their new premium home theater system is expected to launch in China and other select markets in 2015. A full press release follows the earlier story below.
PREVIOUS: IMAX is due to announce later today that it has set up a joint venture with China’s TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings Limited to develop and manufacture $250,000 home theater systems in the booming country. IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond tells The New York Times the decision to partner with TCL was primarily because IMAX expects China to be its largest market. Low production costs were also a factor, but not the driver, he said. China is especially ripe for premium home-entertainment given it does not have a window restriction on the release of films in formats suitable for the systems. Also, despite the quota on foreign movies that are distributed theatrically, the latest Hollywood movies are widely available on DVD and in other formats, which, the NYT says, prompts families “to spend heavily to see them at home in style.” Gelfond said the new systems would not hurt box office. “The cost of this is not at a price point that threatens the theatrical community,” he said. TCL and IMAX have a pre-existing relationship: TCL bought naming rights to Hollywood’s Chinese Theater earlier this year and IMAX has its largest auditorium there. On Monday, IMAX said it had acquired a stake in PRIMA Cinema Inc to expand its home entertainment offering. As part of the deal IMAX will have a five-year window of exclusivity to distribute and resell PRIMA systems in China.
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 28, 2013 — As part of a broader strategy to expand The IMAX Experience® in the home, IMAX Corporation (NYSE: IMAX; TSX: IMX) today announced it has acquired a stake and a significant option position in PRIMA Cinema Inc., whose proprietary systems transmit current theatrical releases from powerhouse studios like Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures in a highly encrypted, location-sensitive fashion for secure home viewing.
IMAX plans to integrate the PRIMA Cinema technology into the IMAX® Private Theatre and other potential platforms, enhancing the image and sound of the content through its digital re-mastering (IMAX DMR®) process, which enables IMAX customers to access current theatrical releases of the highest possible quality.
Gravity just became IMAX‘s highest-grossing second weekend title ever, but French moviegoers won’t get to see it in the format when the Warner Bros hit bows in France on October 23rd. That’s because Amélie helmer Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s 3D The Young And Prodigious T.S. Spivet has staked out the only slots at the country’s five IMAX locations. Spivet comes out on October 16th, a week before Gravity, and is expected to stay in place until Thor: The Dark World moves in on October 30th. So how did a film that lends itself so completely to the IMAX experience find itself without a window in France?
Gaumont, the studio behind Jeunet’s English-language Spivet, has a deal with IMAX for the film to be released locally and internationally in its immersive format. The pact follows IMAX’s collaboration with Pathé’s 2012 French comedy Houba! On The Trail Of The Marsupilami, as the company looks to work increasingly with local filmmakers. Spivet initially had an October 23rd release – a similar date to Jeunet’s last two films, Micmacs and A Very Long Engagement, which coincidentally were released by Warner Bros France in 2009 and 2004, respectively. Warner Bros for its part had originally been eyeing a November 6th Gravity release in France, but in February this year moved onto October 23rd. Spivet then also moved, to October 16th. Because IMAX was committed to Spivet, and doesn’t split screens in France, Gravity was effectively squeezed out. Ultimately, I’m told Warner Bros preferred sticking to its planned release strategy rather than co-opt it for just the five IMAX screens. (The latter half of October in France is hotly-contested release real estate in any format. Among the recent hits to lay claim, box office and/or prestige-wise, are Asterix & Obelix: God Save Britannia, Amour, The Artist, Paranormal Activity 2 & 3, The Adventures Of Tintin and Little White Lies.)
Listen to (and share) episode 53 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive business editor talks with host David Bloom about Carl Icahn’s latest billion-dollar tweet, this one involving a massive Apple share buyback proposal; what’s causing IMAX to stumble; the possible impacts of the federal government shutdown for media & entertainment companies; and Twitter’s now-official IPO and the lessons it might learn from Facebook’s missteps last year.
UPDATE, 7:35 AM: IMAX‘s stock price is down about 6% in early trading after Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter lowered his earnings estimates, citing disappointing Q3 box office sales. Sony’s Elysium, Warner Bros’ Pacific Rim, and Universal’s Riddick “likely did not perform at the levels we initially expected,” he says this morning. That led him to chop his revenue estimate for the quarter by 9.4% to $58M, with his earnings forecast down 53% to 7 cents per share. But he’s holding firm on his estimates for Q4 until he has a better handle on how audiences will respond to expected hits led by Warner Bros’ Gravity and The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, and Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY PM: Today was at least the second day this week that an analyst has questioned the large-screen movie company’s growth prospects — and it contributed to a 4.4% drop in the stock price.
LOS ANGELES – Sept. 30, 2013 – IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX; TSX:IMX), in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment, a division of Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), today announced that Captain Phillips will be digitally re-mastered into the immersive IMAX® format and released in select IMAX® theatres worldwide beginning October 11.
IMAX is suing GDC Technology for using what it says are stolen trade secrets tied to its large-screen digital projection system. According to the complaint (read it here) filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court, the giant-screen pioneer claims a former employee poached its core projection and 2D-to-3D conversion technology, including source codes, and stealthily provided it to film companies in China. It says Gary Tsui, who is not named as a defendant, became the “chief engineer” of a company now known as China Film Giant Screen and that Burbank-based GDC has been using the trade secrets through, among other things, its relationship with CFGS “in its efforts to unfairly compete with IMAX.” The complaint says that IMAX discovered in 2009 that “Tsui had stolen its proprietary and trade secret information” and set up his own competitor company. And later he beat IMAX on a bid for a significant project in China. IMAX claims it launched its own investigation of Tsui and eventually sued him in Canada and China.
LOS ANGELES – JULY 29, 2013 – IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX; TSX:IMX), along with Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films, today announced that due to overwhelming demand, the hit film World War Z starring Brad Pitt has been digitally re-mastered into the immersive IMAX® 3D format and will be released into select IMAX® theatres domestically for the first time for a one-week engagement beginning Aug. 2. World War Z has captivated audiences worldwide – grossing more than $460 million since its launch on June 21. The film has already played in select IMAX theatres internationally. World War Z revolves around an ex-United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop a pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself.
New York, N.Y. and Beijing, PRC – July 24, 2013 – IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX; TSX:IMX) and Wanda Cinema Line Corporation, Asia’s largest cinema owner, today announced an amendment to the parties’ original 2011 joint revenue share agreement with the addition of a minimum of 40 and up to 120 new IMAX®theatres to be located throughout China. The deal also extends Wanda’s lease terms for all new theatres to 12 years from 10 years and brings Wanda’s total IMAX commitment in China to up to 210 theaters, positioning Wanda Cinema Line as IMAX’s largest international exhibition partner.
SHANGHAI, July 15, 2013 — IMAX Corporation and CJ CGV Holdings, Ltd., today announced an expansion of the companies’ partnership with the addition of 35 new IMAX® theatres. The deal includes 30 theatres to be installed in new construction projects across China as well as five previously optional theatres in Korea, now confirmed, which are subject to final documentation. Today’s agreement brings CJ CGV’s IMAX commitment to 95 theatres, with 20 in South Korea and 75 in China, positioning it at present as IMAX’s largest exhibitor partner in Asia.
NEW YORK – July 08, 2013 – IMAX Corporation (NYSE: IMAX; TSX: IMX) today announced that Greg Foster has been named CEO of IMAX Entertainment and Senior Executive Vice President, IMAX Corp., continuing to report directly to IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond. Prior to the appointment, Foster was Chairman and President of IMAX Entertainment.