Imax (Nasdaq:IMAX) (TSX:IMX) said Tuesday that it has agreed to install two new digital Imax theatres in Spain and Italy under a joint venture agreement with Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group, Europe's largest cinema operator.
The Spanish location will open under the Cinesa brand in Mallorca, while the theatre in Italy will operate under the UCI brand in Milan. Both locations are scheduled to open on May 20th, 2011, the companies said. No further terms of the venture were disclosed.
These new theatres are the latest in a surge of Imax theatre signings and openings in Western Europe this year, in markets such as the UK, France, The Netherlands and Germany. Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group is currently the largest operator of Imax theatres in the EMEA region.
"Building on the tremendous success that we have had with IMAX in our ODEON theatres in the UK, we are pleased to bring The IMAX Experience to our theatres in continental Europe," said CEO of Odeon & UCI, Rupert Gavin.
"We are optimistic that based on the success of these initial locations, we will see an expansion of our IMAX business into our other key markets across Europe."
Imax CEO Richard L. Gelfond said that consumer demand for Imax is growing across Western Europe and that expanding into markets like Milan and Mallorca will serve as a catalyst for increased long-term growth on the continent. Indeed, in 2010, the company signed more theatre deals in the region than in any other year in its history.
The company's digital theatre system eliminates the need for film prints and ultimately increases the number of movies shown on screens. The system can run both Imax and Imax 3D presentations.
Odeon and UCI Cinemas operates 1,845 screens at 204 sites across Europe. As of September 30, 2010, there were 470 Imax theatres operating in 45 countries.
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