Film company IMAX has signed a deal to add 150 new theaters in China, many of which will feature its new laser cinema projection technology.
The agreement with China's Wanda Cinema Line is IMAX's largest new theater deal to date. It builds on a partnership that dates back to 2007, when Wanda Cinema opened its first IMAX theater in Dongguan, China.
The new agreement will expand the Chinese company's footprint of IMAX theaters by more than 70%, to 360, over the next six years. Most of the new sites are planned to open in the next three years, with the full rollout to be concluded by 2022.
Wanda Cinema is Asia's largest cinema owner.
Nearly half of its new IMAX theaters are planned to be outfitted with new laser-projection technology which IMAX describes as a "quantum leap" in cinema technology, providing the sharpest, brightest, clearest and most vivid digital images ever, combined with a new level of immersive audio.
IMAX undertook the largest R&D investment in the company's history to develop its next-generation projection and sound system.
When IMAX announced its second quarter financial results last month, CEO Richard Gelfond acknowledged that the laser system is more expensive the traditional Xenon projectors. But he said the company is making continued progress towards reducing the cost, and intends to deliver a product of similar cost to the Xenon lamp platform within the next couple of years, Optics.org reported.
Commenting on the agreement with Wanda Cinema, Gelfond said: "This is a landmark development in IMAX's history and a strategic linchpin in our growth strategy, particularly as we've seen over time that signings lead to installs, higher box office and ultimately more revenue."