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IMAX 'Skyfall' gives museum lift

By Cai Wenjun and Xu Wei (Shanghai Daily)

10:36, February 22, 2013

People had a new reason to visit Shanghai Science and Technology Museum during the Spring Festival and his name was Bond, James Bond.

The museum is showing the latest 007 flick, "Skyfall," using its IMAX theater.

It's the first time it has used its IMAX screen, the largest in east China, to broadcast commercial film. Showings began on February 10 and run to Sunday.

The trial had a good market response, officials said. Box office sales during the week-long holiday festival were 52.2 percent and almost 90 percent in the afternoon. The price is 90 yuan (US$14.30), almost the same as other commercial cinemas. "Skyfall" did well compared with the science movies usually shown. Box office sales for science films usually run about 30 percent.

"The sound effects are astonishing," a Weibo user posted after watching "Skyfall" at the museum. "It is cool to watch 007 in the museum."

Li Jun from Shanghai Science and Technology Museum said using IMAX to show a commercial movie is an effective way to show how the museum can earn its keep.

"The museum is a government-funded scientific educational and research base, but half of our cost and development fees should be earned by ourselves through tickets and scientific products," he said. "Government-funded museums also need good management and showing a commercial movie is a good trial."

He said science and technology museums in other provinces began such trials before the Shanghai museum, which will undoubtedly show more commercial movies on IMAX.

There are nine IMAX screens in Shanghai. Aside from the two at the museum, the others are all inside the commercial cinemas such as Peace Cinema and Stellar Cinema City.

According to Cai Jianmin, an official from the Shanghai United Cinema Lines, the museum signed a contract with them half a year ago. But it is not the first museum of this kind to work with them to show commercial movies at the IMAX theaters. The cinema chain's partners also include the Nanjing and Chongqing science and technology museums.

"It is good for these museums to explore the possibilities of developing a successful business model," Cai said, adding that most IMAX movies distributed by them will be shown simultaneously at the IMAX theaters of the museums.

"Skyfall" has earned more than US$1 billion at the box office globally. In China, the film has made around 400 million yuan (US$63.5 million) since its release on January 21.

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