Magazine article Screen International

China to Become Biggest IMAX Market, Says CEO

Magazine article Screen International

China to Become Biggest IMAX Market, Says CEO

Article excerpt

Speaking to ScreenDaily, IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond and EMEA president Andrew Cripps emphasised the progression of the Chinese market and its rapid growth, which will culminate in it overtaking the company's US presence.

"China will catch North America in the next couple of years", said Gelfond.

IMAX currently operates 275 sites in Greater China, including 260 on the mainland, but has a backlog of deals for new locations that will double the current figure.

"It's just the timing that varies," Cripps explained. "The backlog are all signed commitments."

Looking forward, the company has identified up to 1,000 zones across China for IMAX sites, including the more than 500 that are already open or imminent in the backlog of deals.

By comparison, the company has 434 open sites in North America but fewer in backlog.

Gelfond also stressed that the number of sites was not the only factor worth considering when analysing the size of different markets.

"In the US, the average consumer goes four times a year to the movies, in China they go a half a time a year, which affects the potential growth cycle," said the IMAX CEO.

"As [China] economically develops and the standard of living goes up and the middle class increases, that could go higher.

"In China, IMAX is thought of as an affordable luxury. You might fantasise about buying a Ferrarri but it's not in your means. But IMAX is within a normal person's means."

Chinese film output expanding

The company is also expanding its Chinese film output. In 2014, IMAX released six films in the Mandarin language. …

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