Edwards drops Imax in rebranding

Circuit plans a January opening with rival system

Edwards Theaters Circuit is rebranding a half-dozen large-format screens formerly operated by Imax as Edwards Giant Screen Theaters, with plans to run Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” in January using a system to be installed by a still-unnamed Imax rival.

“We terminated the lease with Imax, and we will not be using Imax equipment,” Edwards spokesman Fred Bell said Thursday. “But we haven’t made a new selection.”

Alternate systems

Alternate large-format systems are marketed by Imax rivals including Iwerks, Advanced Image Systems, Megasystems and others.

Edwards has decided to go with an 8p70 format instead of an 15p70 format such as Imax and some others use. The circuit believes the format is more cost-efficient than 15p, Bell said.

The large-format screens are located in Irvine, Ontario, Valencia and Houston. The sites also will show conventional 35mm movies in addition to running large-format versions of conventional releases such as Disney’s “Beauty” and original large-format features.

Disney is releasing its tooner classic “Beauty and the Beast” for the first time in large format to giant-screen theaters nationwide in January. The re-release will feature new animated film sequences and an enhanced musical score including the song “Human Again.”

“We are thrilled to continue delivering high-quality family entertainment,” Edwards prexy Stephen Coffey said. “Edwards Giant Screen Theaters will allow our guests to experience first-run major studio films as well as exciting adventure fare, using the latest projection technology available.”

Edwards is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. As part of those proceedings, the Newport Beach-based exhib recently won a judge’s approval to void its Imax leases at the six theaters ( Daily Variety, July 2).

Reorg plan OK’d

On Tuesday, creditors approved a reorg plan under which a group led by entertainment entrepreneur Philip Anschutz would buy a 51% in Edwards for $56 million (Daily Variety, Aug. 29). A confirmation hearing is set for U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles on Sept. 19.

Imax has been struggling with its own business downturn. The financial crunch being felt by Edwards and most other mainstream exhibs has shaken investors’ confidence Imax can continue selling enough systems amid such difficult conditions.

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