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IMAX business booming in China

04-26-2012 10:24 BJT

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The IMAX movie-going experience is proving to be big a hit in China, as box office revenues continue to rake in record numbers. New theatres are also sprouting throughout the country. The surge is reflected in the growing demand among Chinese movie goers, who are expecting the latest technology, coupled with the best films in the world.

Raquel Olsson says, "You’d have to be living under a rock by now if you haven’t heard of the 3D re-release of James Cameron’s massive blockbuster, ’Titanic’. Since its opening on April 10 in IMAX theatres across China, the film has grossed an estimated $74 million USD, 58 million of that figure within the first weekend alone."

The explosive popularity of "Titanic" in 3D is just the latest boost that is putting IMAX on top. A total of 12 IMAX movies premiered this year in China, with "Titanic" heading the pack. For many, the 3D remake coupled with IMAX technology creates the ultimate movie-going experience, making nostalgic feelings for the film that much more emotional.

Su Zhou, a university student says, "We watched the original version when we were very young. Now we have grown up and can watch it with a deeper understanding. What’s more is it is in 3D and IMAX. I come here very often and the movies here are wonderful."

Brian Didier, a professor of Beijing Foreign Studies University says, "Compared to the regular theatre, I mean the regular theatre is okay if they have a good sound system, but the IMAX, you know, you just have that peripheral vision that is also putting you into the screen. I love it."

Currently there are more than 200 IMAX theatres sprawled across China, that are either already opened or contracted to open. The first IMAX theatre in Beijing opened in 2006. At the time, operation costs were especially high, and only about 5 IMAX movies played per year. What changed the fate of IMAX was James Cameron’s other hit blockbuster, "Avatar", a sensation that swept the country. Before the film, box office sales were around 5 million yuan, but jumped to 40 million yuan after its release.

However, one of the factors that may be holding back the expansion of IMAX in China is the cost and the return time on the investment. A normal theatre costs about 500,000 yuan to build at the most. An IMAX theatre costs 7-8 milion yuan.

Liu Hui, a deputy manager of UME International Cineplex says, "Investment for IMAX theatres is still quite high. It costs at least 10 times more than that of a normal theatre. What’s more, it demands a lot in terms of architectural design, which is especially difficult for commercial real estate. IMAX screens require larger and higher rooms than a normal screen."

However, the growing popularity of IMAX movies is making these costs worth it. The demand for entertainment is rapidly rising in China, as more and more of the population seeks to enjoy a higher standard of entertainment - and IMAX, the most advanced movie theatre on the market, is reaping the benefits.

The growing influx of international films into the Chinese market is also acting as a boost for the IMAX business. More Hollywood films will be able to reach Chinese audiences, most likely via IMAX theatres. The blockbuster "Titanic" being a telling example of success.

Raquel Olsson says,"Yes, people are crazy about the Titanic, but more telling than ever is the fact that the IMAX business is on the up and up here in China. Although it is very expensive to build an IMAX theatre compared to a regular theatre, hopefully advancements in technology will be bringing these costs down soon enough. In addition to this, the increase in production of 3D films both here and abroad is giving IMAX a very promising future.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: CNTV.CN

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