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Imax sees Korea as lucrative market
Imax Corp., maker of the giant-screen movie systems used at theaters such as the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and London's Science Museum, expects a surge in contracts in Asia will boost revenue and profit ahead of a possible sale of the company.
Co-Chief Executive Officer Richard Gelfond, 49, said he expects to sign as many as 45 agreements with theater companies around the world this year, led by China, India and Korea. That compares with 36 deals in 2004.
About two-thirds of the Canadian company's growth will come from Asian countries including Korea, where attendance is triple the U.S. average, based on viewers per movie.
In Seoul, noon shows during the week are often packed, while discounted matinees in North America often play to empty halls, he said.
"Korean theaters are the most attended in the world," Mr. Gelfond said in an April 26 interview in Manhattan. "There is a real good movie culture there."
Imax signed a contract last month with CJ CGV Co., the largest movie theater chain in Korea, to install four Imax theater systems over two years.
Imax gets about $1.5 million for each system, along with maintenance fees and a 5-percent royalty on all box-office revenue.
In China, Imax expects to sell 23 systems by 2008, and 20 in India within five years. Imax has 245 systems in theaters in 36 countries, including about 100 in the United States.