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China, Thailand Cinema Chains to Add Imax Venues as Premium Screens and Local Language Titles Boost Box Office – CinemaCon

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Cinema chains in mainland China and in Thailand have revealed plans to expand their park of Imax premium large format screens.

In China, Bona Film Group said that it had expanded its existing agreement with the Canadian supplier, to add three Imax laser systems. The three will become operational by 2026 and bring Bona’s Imax locations to 36.

Thailand’s leading exhibition chain Major Cineplex will also add three Imax with laser systems. One, in Bangkok’s Bang Kapi district, will open this year, with the remaining two in other parts of Bangkok to open in 2026 and 2027.

Both announcements were made on the margins of the annual CinemaCon 2024 exhibition conference in Las Vegas.

The agreement between Imax and Bona is the first between the two companies since the COVID pandemic and is heralded as underlining the box office recovery in China.

Cinema industry revenue in China has not yet caught up to 2019 levels, but at the end of the first quarter China was the world’s largest theatrical market, some 50% ahead of North America. Data and research firm Gower Street Analytics recently forecast that China will be the only major market this year where box office exceed 2023 levels. At the end of the first quarter, Chinese box office was 6% higher. Moreover, the spoils are increasingly going to premium screens.

Imax last year earned over $19 million in China with “Oppenheimer,” garnering 30% of the film’s opening weekend box office on less than 1% of screens. With “Dune: Part Two” Imax screens accounted for 33% of the opening weekend box office and 35% of the second weekend. For the Denis Villeneuve-directed film, Imax venues have accounted for over $15 million on less than 1% of the film’s screens in China.

Imax says that Thailand ranks among its top five markets in Asia so far this year and that 2023 was its highest revenue year in the country, with over $5.4 million in box office, beating the previous record set in 2022.

As in China, Imax is growing its efforts in local languages. The first Thai language Imax release, “Tee Yod” debuted in October 2023 and has delivered $500,000 in box office to-date.