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Imax joint venture for more theatres

TORONTO (CP) _ Imax Corp. (TSX:IMX) and Regal Cinemas Inc. have entered a joint venture to install two giant-screen theatre systems, while Imax inked a separate five-screen deal with a Kansas-based exhibitor.

The contract with Regal, announced Monday, is part of Imax’s plan to partner with major exhibitors to increase its screen count, the company said.

Regal will install the Imax screens at multiplexes in San Diego, Calif., and Portland, Ore. Separate from that venture, Regal will set up an Imax theatre at the Pointe Complex in Orlando, Fla.

Financial details for the agreement was not disclosed.

All three locations are expected to open before the launch of the release of "Spider-Man 3" on May 4, which will unspool in an Imax version the same day as it’s released in traditional cinemas.

"Regal has been a great operator of its existing Imax network, and we are gratified to participate with its team in additional theatres," said co-chairman and co-CEO Richard Gelfond.

A separate agreement with Kansas-based Dickinson Theatres Inc. will install five screens at the chain’s theatres.

The first will be installed this year while three more screens will be in place next year. The fourth is set to be installed in 2009 while the final screen has no target date.

The new contracts follow a record-setting box-office weekend for the Warner Bros. feature film "300," which rolled out simultaneously in both regular cinemas and on Imax screens.

Early estimates have said the action movie took in more than $70 million over the weekend, setting a new record for a March weekend box-office opening. The tally includes profits from Imax screens, though the company hasn’t disclosed how much money it generated.

Imax shares climbed 58 cents to $5.94 on the Toronto stock market in afternoon trading.