IMAX Corporation, one of the world's leading companies for entertainment technology, is seeking to expand its presence in China, the company's top executive said yesterday.
"China is the most exciting market for us," said Richard L. Gelfond, co-chairman and co-CEO of IMAX.
Speaking on the sidelines of the BusinessWeek 10th Annual CEO Forum in Beijing, Gelfund told China Daily that one of the reasons he had come was to examine opportunities in China.
"We hope to be involved in the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, giving special exhibitions of IMAX 3D technology," Gelfond said yesterday.
He is also looking into placing IMAX theatres at a series of tourist sites.
At present, China is host to eight such theatres, mostly in museums and science centres.
"The results of these ones are encouraging," said Gelfond. IMAX theatres in China receive about 3 to 4 million visitors a year, he said, and performance at the few theatres in commercial locations keeps getting better.
For example, IMAX presentations of the Warner Brothers blockbuster Superman Returns have brought in US$200,000 at the box office.
"As we get more movies into China, I think the commercial IMAX theatres will be a very good, profitable investment," he said.
Seven Hollywood films and one self-made movie came out in IMAX format globally this year. In China, some films may be yet to come.
The company is planning to continue developing theatres in both museums and commercial sites, with a long-term emphasis on the latter.
Altogether, 17 new theatres are set to open by the end of 2008.
Gelfond sees many changes happening in China that offer huge opportunities for IMAX expansion.
For one, increasing incomes have made more Chinese people willing to spend money on entertainment. And rapid real estate development leaves many opportunities to include IMAX theatres in new multicomplexes.
And, importantly, bigger TV screens and video players at times leave people with no reason to bother with old, regular cinemas, whilst they see IMAX 3D as something special.
Gelfond saw the Chinese market potential early on, establishing an Asia-Pacific headquarters in Shanghai in 2002 when there were only three IMAX theatres in the country.
Now, with at least 25 theatres set to be operating in 15 Chinese cities by 2009, China is expected to surpass Canada to become the second largest market for IMAX in the world, behind only the United States.
The company currently has some 300 theatres in 36 countries wroldwide.
Source: China Daily