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Imax living large in Asia

It adds new screens in China and Japan

Largescreen exhib Imax is planning to extend its Asian rollout by adding new theaters in China and Japan.

The company announced Thursday that it will up its Chinese count to 57 locations, with the three most recent theaters to be installed by the end of 2012. Meanwhile, in Japan, multiplex operator United Cinemas plans to install five Imax digital theaters.

Japanese deal follows an earlier announcement by UC that it plans to install digital 3D cinema systems made by Real D in all 21 of its sites. Lumiere Pavilions will partner with Imax on the Chinese front, adding theaters in the cities of Chongqing and Guangzhou.

“Imax theaters are changing the way people in China experience movies, and the success of its existing theaters demonstrates that the Imax experience is the premium option that moviegoers are choosing when they visit the cinema,” said Jimmy Wu, CEO of Lumiere.

Imax has signed deals for 95 new systems, compared to 35 during all of 2009.

Four Japanese UC sites already have Imax systems and five more will get them by early August, for a total of 10 screens in nine sites. The remaining sites will be 3D ready by the fall of this year.

(Mark Schilling in Tokyo contributed to this report.)

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