IMAX Corporation smashes global box office record
By Brendan Swift
The IMAX Corporation has more than doubled its previous global box office record after taking $US546 million last year amid rumours that a major distributor is considering buying the exhibition technology company.
IMAX Corporation chief executive Richard L. Gelfond said the group’s box office per theatre average grew by 50 percent year-on-year and the company plans to grow the size of its global network.
“Looking ahead to 2011, we have more visibility into our future film slate than we have ever had, we will grow the size of our global network and we believe that this year's strong box office performance will further fuel the theatre signing momentum we enjoyed in 2010 into 2011,” he said in a statement.
IMAX Melbourne Museum manager Richard Morrison said the local cinema had posted a record number of admissions in the second half of 2010 – more than 200,000 – which was approximately 14.5 per cent higher than the previous record.
“There’s no doubt it’s been a good year for us,” he said.
Melbourne’s IMAX ranks as the world’s third largest screen while IMAX Theatre Sydney is the world’s largest. Since July 2008, IMAX Corporation has also installed its projection technology in certain Hoyts Cinemas, although they use a different digital system projected onto smaller screens.
Morrison said the strength of the local result was not only boosted by strong Hollywood titles, but IMAX productions such as Hubble 3D and a revival of James Cameron’s first 3D film, Ghosts of the Abyss, as part of the Melbourne Museum’s Titanic exhibition. “It far exceeded my expectations … and did huge business for us,” he said.
The global box office result, which doubled the previous record of $US270 million in 2009, was bolstered by an increase in titles with a record 16 films converted to IMAX format compared to 13 in the previous year.
Nonetheless, the company’s original documentaries, such as Under the Sea 3D and Deep Sea 3D, still contributed $US41 million to its 2010 box office tally.
The result followed an announcement by the company late last month that it was not aware of any reason why its shares had posted a recent strong rise.
Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper reported that Sony may offer $US40 per share for the company and that the Walt Disney Co was also eyeing up the group. In September 2009, IMAX denied that it was in discussions with Disney, or that the distributor was about to acquire the company, after the release of a false press release.
Among the 2011 IMAX lineup is the James Cameron-backed Australian thriller Sanctum (although it will only be shown on smaller IMAX digital screens), Sucker Punch, which includes the work of local VFX house Animal Logic, and George’s Miller’s Happy Feet 2.
By the end of last September, 470 theatres were using IMAX exhibition technology across 45 countries.