Imax Touts 80 Million Disney+ Sub Access, Narrows Fiscal-Year Loss

High-definition exhibitor Imax Feb. 23 said business is almost back to pre-Covid 2019 days, as box office revenue increased 86% to $255 million in fiscal 2021 (ended Dec. 31), from $137 million in 2020. The fiscal loss declined nearly 85% to $22.3 million, from $143.8 million in 2020.

The exhibitor’s fourth quarter was highlighted by its strongest quarterly results since 2019 across key financial metrics, including: revenue growth of 94% to $108.6 million; improvement in net income to $10.1 million versus a loss of $21.2 million in the prior-year period.

Notably, the quarterly results met or exceeded pre-pandemic levels across key metrics. Imax delivered operating income, global box office and gross margin in the fourth quarter of 2021 that exceeded the fourth quarter of 2019.

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Separately, Imax lauded the availability of its “enhanced” movies on more than 80 million Disney+ approved devices. Imax Enhanced content on Disney+ features an expanded aspect ratio of 1.90:1, which allows viewers to see up to 26% more of the original image and experience the full scale and scope of the picture. This differs from most movies where the picture appears wide but does not take up the full height of the TV screen. Some movies only have select-sequences filmed in Imax’s expanded aspect ratio.

“In the fourth quarter alone, Imax turned in a dominating performance at the global box office, launched a major streaming partnership with Disney+, and created a series of exclusive events connecting theatrical and streaming in a way that few brands can,” CEO Richard Gelfond said in a statement.

“The fact that Imax is driving results at or above what we achieved in 2019 — which was by many measures, our best year ever — reaffirms that we are not an exhibitor and have moved beyond recovery mode,” Gelfond said. “With strong a balance sheet that affords us security and capital allocation flexibility, we are well-positioned to capitalize on our momentum and continue to evolve and grow our business.”

Beatles ‘Get Back’ Documentary DVD, Blu-ray Release Delayed

The Blu-ray Disc and DVD release of The Beatles: Get Back, Peter Jackson’s acclaimed documentary on the legendary British rock band that became a streaming hit on Disney+ as a three-part miniseries, had been slated for Feb. 8 but has been delayed due to a technical issue, a Disney spokesperson announced Jan. 31. A new street date is pending.

The initial release date was slated for nine days after an hour-long concert film of the group’s iconic 1969 rooftop concert was released at select Imax theaters on Jan. 30, the 53rd anniversary of the performance atop the Apple Corps’ Savile Row headquarters.  The concert film includes a Q&A with director Jackson, who said in a statement, “I’m thrilled that the rooftop concert from The Beatles: Get Back is going to be experienced in Imax, on that huge screen. It’s The Beatles’ last concert, and it’s the absolute perfect way to see and hear it.”

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The concert, which is included in the documentary, will be digitally remastered with proprietary Imax DMR (digital remastering) technology.

The Imax event will be followed by a global theatrical run of the 60-minute concert film Feb. 11-13.

The Beatles: Get Back covers the making of the Beatles’ 1970 album Let It Be, whose working title was Get Back. Originally conceived as a feature film, The Beatles: Get Back was expanded into three episodes with a total runtime of nearly eight hours. The docuseries, which premiered on Disney+ on Nov. 25, was compiled from nearly 60 hours of unseen footage shot over 21 days, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg in 1969, and from more than 150 hours of unheard audio, most of which has been locked in a vault for over half a century, according to a press release.

[Originally Posted Jan. 5, 2022; Updated Jan. 31, 2022]

Imax: ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ 6th Largest Widescreen Box Office Debut

The accolades keep coming for Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home. Imax reported that the opening weekend for the webslinging superhero generated $36.2 million on 834 Imax screens across 77 markets globally, including $22 million in North America.

Even without opening in China, No Way Home was the biggest global opening weekend ever for Imax, and the biggest opening weekend since April 2019. And it was the largest Imax opening ever for a “Spider-Man” film.

Filmed with Imax certified digital cameras, No Way Home was shown in the exhibitor’s exclusive 1.90:1 expanded aspect ratio for the entirety of the film, only in Imax theatres.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is an exclamation point on the comeback we’ve seen at the box office in 2021, and an emphatic reminder of the unique power of the theatrical experience to unite audiences worldwide in a global event,” Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax, said in a statement.

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Internationally, 15 markets posted their biggest Imax opening weekend ever, including MexicoIndiaItalyTurkey and Saudi Arabia. Imax theaters generated enormous per screen averages around the world, including standout markets such as Denmark ($111,000 through Saturday), HongKong ($106,000), Sweden ($94,000), Australia ($83,000), Taiwan ($69,000Finland ($67,000), Saudi Arabia ($62,000), South Korea ($60,000), U.K. ($59,000) and Egypt ($55,000).

No Way Home will continue in the Imax global network through the new year, with Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Matrix Resurrections also arriving in select Imax theaters on Dec. 22.

“With these historic results, Imax continues to see blockbuster releases generate box office at or exceeding pre-pandemic levels — which is very encouraging heading into [the] 2022 slate,” Gelfond said.

Imax Streaming on Disney+ Showcasing ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’

For the first time, Disney+ subscribers will be able to stream select Marvel movies in Imax’s expanded aspect ratio, beginning Nov. 12 as part of Disney’s company-wide Disney+ Day global event.

Imax’s expanded aspect ratio is 1.90:1, which offers up to 26% more picture for select sequences — meaning more of the action is visible on screen. In a media statement, Disney and Imax said the collaboration would include enhanced audio and visual technology, including immersive Imax signature sound by DTS on future streamed movies.

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On Nov. 12, the 13 movies available to stream in Imax Enhanced in the Disney+ premiere of Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, Iron ManGuardians of the GalaxyGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Captain America: Civil WarDoctor StrangeThor: RagnarokBlack PantherAvengers: Infinity WarAnt-Man and The WaspCaptain MarvelAvengers: Endgame and Black Widow (content availability varies by region).

The announcement is the latest in a relationship between Imax and Marvel Studios that dates back to 2010.

“For more than a decade, Imax has helped filmmakers take fans across the Marvel Cinematic Universe in theaters and now that epic journey crosses into a new world: the home,” Imax CEO Rich Gelfond said in a statement.

Imax claims that with its expanded aspect ratio technology, filmmakers can create a more immersive experience in theaters and in the home (with the appropriate HDTV), allowing viewers to stream more of the action.

“Disney, Marvel Studios, and Imax have collaborated for years to bring the world’s most popular films to the big screen, and on Friday we’ll start to bring Imax technology to subscribers with Imax Enhanced viewing in the Disney+ app,” said Michael Paull, president of Disney+ and ESPN+.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has generated more than $1.6 billion in revenue across Imax screens globally, making it the highest-grossing franchise in Imax history. Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame were the first films shot entirely with Imax digital cameras.

Imax Posts $7.3 Million North American ‘No Time to Die’ Debut

Imax Oct. 10 announced a $7.3 million domestic debut for MGM’s 25th James Bond movie, No Time to Die, saying the release captured 13% of the North American opening weekend gross.

The movie achieved Imax’s highest indexing for a $50 million+ domestic opening since 2018, continuing the company’s run of strong market share as tentpole titles return to theaters. The final installment of Daniel Craig’s run as 007 is the first Bond film to be shot with Imax cameras and features more than an hour of scenes in Imax-exclusive expanded aspect ratio.

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No Time to Die has now reached $22.5 million in global ticket sales on Imax screens. The film earned another $5.7 million across international screens this weekend, highlighted by the film’s $600,000 debut in France, the best Imax opening in the market since December 2019.

The movie debuted in 50 international markets Oct. 1-3, breaking records for the best Imax opening weekend ever for a James Bond film in 24 markets across Europe, Asia and Latin America.

“The combination of Imax technology and this iconic franchise has proven to be a winning one at the global box office, with audiences everywhere turning out to experience Cary Fukunaga’s immersive filmmaking as it was meant to be seen,” Megan Colligan, president of Imax Entertainment, said in a statement. “Imax is reaching and even exceeding pre-pandemic global box office for September and October, which is a very exciting prospect given the upside ahead with audiences and blockbusters still returning to theaters.”

The strong fall/winter blockbuster slate continues as sci-fi reboot Dune from Warner Bros./Legendary hits Imax screens in North America and China Oct. 22, and on Nov. 5 Disney/Marvel’s Eternals rolls out worldwide.

Imax Debuts Biggest Widescreen in the World

Imax has opened its largest theatrical projection screen in the world. Covering the 574-seat Traumpalast (“Dream Palace”) auditorium in Leonberg, Germany, the screen is 69 feet high, 125 feet wide and weighs more than 500 pounds, equipped with Imax’s 12-channel sound technology. It was manufactured in Joliette, Canada, by American-based Strong/MDI Screen Systems.

“The Imax at Traumpalast is a tremendous achievement and will provide audiences with an immersive viewing experience on the world’s most incredible scale,” Mark Welton, president of Imax Theatres, said in a statement. “We’re grateful for Strong/MDI’s partnership as we unveil this record-breaking screen.”

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Lochmann Filmtheaterbetriebe operates eight Imax Traumpalast screens across Germany.

The opening comes ahead of MGM’s much-delayed No Time to Die, the last James Bond movie featuring Daniel Craig in the title role. The movie bowed Sept. 30 in Germany and the U.K., among other regions. It bows Oct. 8 in the United States.

The movie’s director Cary Fukunaga reportedly used Imax’s 15/70mm cameras, enabling No Time to Die to be the first Bond film to include 40 minutes of Imax exclusive expanded aspect ratio, or the ratio between the width and height of the screen.

‘Shang-Chi’ Sets Imax Record

Disney/Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings tallied a four-day holiday opening weekend of $13.6 million in Imax theaters globally — the best global September and Labor Day weekend opening ever in Imax, according to the company.

North America led the way, where Shang-Chi delivered $8.5 million across 399 screens — 9.4% of the film’s domestic box office and a per screen average of more than $21,000 — and new records for best domestic September and Labor Day Weekend opening ever in Imax as well, according to the company.

Overall, the Imax global network earned $16.8 million for the weekend — the best global box office weekend ever in September for Imax and the second-best box office weekend for the company in the pandemic era, behind only the 2020 Chinese New Year holiday, Imax reported.

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“Shattering Labor Day box office records with an origin story new to many fans, Shang-Chi delivers an emphatic statement: People really want to get back to the movies,” Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax, said in a statement. “It’s clear that great filmmaking plus an exclusive theatrical release is a winning formula at the box office, and this groundbreaking film has successfully launched an exciting new cinematic journey for Marvel and a strong fall blockbuster slate for the industry.”

Internationally, Shang-Chi opened to $5.1 million of Imax box office from 391 screens in 66 countries. Six countries set pandemic era opening weekend records, while an additional seven countries had their second-best pandemic era opening weekend, including the United Kingdom.

Overall, Imax weekend box office was bolstered by the continued strong performance of Disney/20th Century’s Free Guy in China, which has now grossed $8.7 million on Imax China screens — or 14.5% of the nationwide total gross on less than 1% of screens.

Shang-Chi and Free Guy reveal just how much hybrid distribution and the resulting piracy this year have impacted box office and obscured the pent-up demand among moviegoers for the cinema,” Gelfond said in a statement. “Exclusive theatrical releases continue to see bigger openings, better holds, and have now launched two new blockbuster franchises in the past month that fans will enjoy across screens for years to come.”

Imax Board Appoints New Chairman, Member

The board of directors of Imax Corp. has elected longstanding board member Darren Throop — founder, CEO and president of Entertainment One (eOne) — its chairman.

At its annual and special meeting of shareholders June 9, Imax shareholders also elected Steve Pamon, former president and chief operating officer of Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment, to join the Board.

Both appointments are effective immediately.

“Darren has been a strong, influential leader on the IMAX Board, expanding on his brilliant career in building eOne into a global content force from the ground up,” Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax, said in a statement. “Darren’s expertise in maximizing the value of global brands, scaling businesses and navigating the evolving content landscape will continue to be instrumental to our growth strategy.

“Steve is a seasoned and versatile business leader with a track record of entrepreneurship and innovation in entertainment throughout his successful career. Steve’s expertise at the intersection of entertainment, technology, and cutting-edge consumer experiences will be important to Imax as we seek to grow and create new opportunities for our global brand.”

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“I’m so pleased to take on this role and continue working alongside Rich, the Imax leadership team and my fellow Board members to drive the business forward, especially as we enter a new era of the moviegoing experience,” Throop said in a statement. “Imax’s commitment to innovative technology is unmatched, and I’m excited to help steer their growth strategy as they continue to bring awe-inspiring, immersive experiences to audiences around the world.”

“From my teenage years working at the Ominmax Theatre in Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, I have dreamed of playing a role in the transformative experience of an Imax presentation,” Pamon said in a statement. “Joining the Board of Directors of Imax is more than an appointment; it is a dream come true.”

An Imax director since June 2015, Throop founded eOne — an international entertainment company specializing in the acquisition, production and distribution of film and TV content — and has served as its president and CEO since 2003. Throop will continue to serve as a member of Imax’s compensation committee. Most recently, Throop engineered the $3.8 billion sale of eOne to Hasbro in 2019.

At Parkwood Entertainment, Pamon was the architect of the successful “On the Run” tour and was awarded both a Grammy Award for Homecoming and a Peabody Award for the visual album Lemonade as executive producer. Prior to joining Parkwood, he held executive positions at JPMorgan Chase & Co., the NFL and HBO. Pamon also sits on the board of World Wresting Entertainment, the board of New York Road Runners — a nonprofit organization that produces more than 100 sports events each year including the famed New York City Marathon — and is a founding advisory board member for the “Launch with GS” fund, Goldman Sachs’ $500 million dollar investment fund that aims to increase access to capital and connections for diverse entrepreneurs.

Imax Stomps to Biggest Domestic Weekend in 16 Months With $4.5 Million ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ Opening

Imax April 4 reported its biggest domestic opening weekend in more than a year as Warner/Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong generated $4.5 million in ticket sales across 284 3D screens. The exhibitor said more than 1,000 domestic Imax shows were sold-out over the five-day opening, nearly 25% of all showtimes over that period. Globally, the monster box office hit continued to smash expectations, earning $13 million across all markets.

Godzilla vs. Kong has emerged as a symbol of the enduring strength of the theatrical experience for blockbuster filmmaking, delivering great box office even with many theatres still closed and significant capacity restrictions,” Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax, said in a statement. “Make no mistake — this film has become a global event because it received a global theatrical release, and the phenomenal pipeline of tentpole films ahead have the chance to capitalize on the same opportunity.”

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Despite 25% capacity limits in North America, a particularly challenging environment for Imax given its theater design, and a day-and-date release on HBO Max, Godzilla vs. Kong now stands as Imax’s best domestic opening since January 2020. Imax accounted for 9.3% of the overall weekend box office domestically. Notably, many capacity restrictions, including the 25% limit in California, are scheduled to be eased in the coming weeks.

The film continued its success globally, earning another $6.5 million since Wednesday in China, while reaching a 10-day total of $18 million, over 13% of the nationwide box office and the highest 10-day total of the “Monsterverse” franchise ever for Imax China. The to-date gross is already nearly double the final Imax China box office for Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

The impressive results follow a pandemic-best opening internationally for the film a week earlier, with some markets increasing their Imax box office over last weekend’s openings. The exhibitor has generated $28 million across all markets globally for the film to-date, 10% of the overall total.

Godzilla vs. Kong will continue its run in Imax through April 21 in domestic markets and mid-to-late April in most international markets, including China, with openings in Brazil and Japan, scheduled for April 29 and May 14, respectively.

Imax Scores Biggest International Opening Weekend Box Office With ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’

Imax scored an knockout with the international debut for Godzilla vs. Kong, earning $12.4 million for the weekend across 891 screens in 40 markets worldwide. In a positive sign as the summer theatrical movie season approaches, Warner and Legendary Pictures’ epic kaiju clash scored the biggest opening weekend in Imax for a Hollywood film since December 2019.

China led the way as the highest grossing Imax market with $9.4 million in weekend box office — good for 14% of the film’s total Chinese box office on only 1% of screens in the market. Worldwide, Imax delivered 10% of the film’s weekend box office despite accounting for just 1% of screens — continuing the 3D exhibitor’s history of strong market share with the “Monsterverse” franchise.

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Godzilla vs. Kong expands to at least 1170 Imax screens worldwide on March 31 when it debuts in North America — where pre-sales have been brisk with multiple shows already sold out across top-performing Imax locations.

Godzilla vs. Kong demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible and audiences worldwide are answering the call — continuing to drive market share gains for Imax and proving there is real business to be done for Hollywood blockbusters,” Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax, said in a statement. “We are particularly encouraged by the film’s strong debut in China, where audiences turned out in a big way for this Hollywood franchise.”

Godzilla vs. Kong currently stands as king among the films in the “Monsterverse,” winning the franchise’s biggest Imax opening weekend in 13 markets, including China, India and Russia. In China, Imax screens are featured in each of the film’s Top 10 highest grossing theaters. Despite capacity limitations of up to 50%, numerous markets delivered healthy per screen averages in theaters, including Australia ($63,000), Hong Kong ($51,000), Saudi Arabia ($43,000), Thailand ($31,00), UAE ($21,000) and Singapore ($21,000).