The Regal Entertainment Group, which owns the nation’s largest movie theater chain, will work with the Imax Corporation to open 31 new, large-format outlets. The two companies said they would share the cost of installation and the revenue, but declined to reveal more detailed financial information.
One of Regal’s primary competitors, AMC Entertainment, announced a similar deal with Imax in December. The movie theater business, buffeted by a decade-long boom in home entertainment that has hurt attendance, is betting that Imax’s eye-popping imagery will help lure patrons to the multiplex. Currently Imax has 150 theaters in the United States, with plans for more than 300 by 2010.
The increased emphasis on Imax comes as Hollywood makes more movies available in the format, which is still struggling to expand beyond its roots in science and history museums. Several summer blockbusters will have an Imax option, including “Kung Fu Panda,” a DreamWorks Animation picture featuring the voice of Jack Black.
Regal said it will install Imax digital projection systems in 20 of its largest markets. It noted that the equipment will help improve profitability for itself and movie studios by cutting the expenses of shipping and handling film prints. The first converted theaters will open in November. BROOKS BARNES