Imax to expand in Japan with more screens

Imax Corp., the developer of technology for projecting movies on giant screens, plans to more than double the number of theaters in Japan in two years as viewers flock to 3-D features, Chief Executive Officer Richard Gelfond said.

The company, which shares the costs and profits of its theaters in Japan with Tokyu Recreation Corp., will increase the number of screens in the country to nine by June 2012 from four now, Gelfond said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday. Three new theaters will be in the Tokyo metropolitan area and two will be in western Japan, he said.

Imax, which introduced its giant-screen technology at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, western Japan, aims to tap demand for Hollywood blockbusters in 3-D that helped it record its first annual profit in four years. James Cameron’s “Avatar” grossed $8 million for the company in Japan, selling out on many nights, Gelfond said.

Johnny Depp in 3D does better than Avatar in Japan

Johnny Depp in 3D and in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland doubled Avatar’s opening day box office receipts in Japan, taking in more than 700 million yen, or about $7.6 million USD, on April 17th.

Johnny Depp’s role as the Mad Hatter undoubtedly helped draw in viewers; Depp’s films have had strong openings in Japan in the recent past, particularly Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which brought in 992 million yen on its opening weekend, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which had earned 1.47 billion yen during its first two days, stated.

The Japanese media has attributed much of the comparable starting success of Alice over Avatar, which opened last December with first day earnings of approximately 370 million yen (about $4 million) according to Oricon, to both the number of screens and the film length. Alice in Wonderland debuted on 877 screens nationwide, of which 454 were 3D and 423 were regular, compared to Avatar’s 831 screens, made up of 373 3D and 423 regular.

Read the rest of the story: Alice in Wonderland doubles Avatar’s opening day earnings in Japan