London sites to be first in Europe

Odeon, Europe’s largest exhibition chain, will today open the continent’s first Imax screens fitted with digital projection systems at two multiplexes in London.

The upgrade has cost Odeon £1.5 million ($2.2 million), but the company is hoping to start cashing in from the get-go given the launch is well timed to make the most of the Christmas holiday rush at the plexes.

The Imax sked at the two sites kicks off with “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,” followed by “The Day the Earth Stood Still” on Dec. 12.

Odeon CEO Rupert Gavin spoke at Thursday’s launch at the Greenwich Odeon in southeast London. The other digital Imax screen is in Wimbledon, in southwest London.

Brit auds have a voracious appetite for event movies delivered via Imax, with London’s BFI Imax one of the firm’s leading international sites.

Gavin said Odeon, which also operates an Imax theater in Manchester among its 857 U.K. screens, is considering adding Imax screens in other sites but will first wait to see how the London Imax screens perform.

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