Company nabs deal for foreign-language pics

Imax has pacted to show up to three Chinese-language features on screens in China and elsewhere in Asia, the first-ever deal for the giantscreen exhib to show foreign-language pictures.

The first pic in the deal is “Aftershock,” from Huayi Bros. Studio and helmer Feng Xiaogang.

Picture follows a young girl who survives the catastrophic 1976 Tangshan earthquake in China, is adopted and raised in America, then returns to China as an adult to help with relief following another earthquake.

The second and third titles are yet to be determined.

Imax is not producing the pics, it is only remastering them for Imax exhibition.

“We believe (‘Aftershock’) will be in 25-30 Imax theaters in China and other parts of Asia,” said Greg Foster, chairman and president, filmed entertainment for Imax. Pic is targeted for July 28, 2010.

Release in other markets, including North American markets with large Chinese populations, is being considered.

Foster said Imax has been asked to put local-language pics in the Imax format by “a lot of different populations, a lot of different film markets,” and chose China as a test case. If the move succeeds, other territories will see local product digitally remastered for Imax screens as well.

While this move may help open the door to further Imax expansion in China, said Foster, “the impetus is more to provide product that the Chinese population wants to enjoy in Imax theaters.” Chinese authorities still limit the number of foreign pics allowed into the country, and putting local pics in the format helps ease any shortage of releases caused by the quota.

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