15 theaters to open under pact with CJ CGV

Mega-screen exhib Imax has struck a 15-theater deal in China, making it the company’s largest signing of new theaters in Asia to date.

Deal was announced Monday as part of a partnership between Imax and CJ CGV, the leading exhib in Asia that operates five Imax theaters in South Korea. Both companies entered into a joint venture in March.

“Our experience with the Imax brand and business in Korea has proven to us that an effective method for us to grow our business in China is to include Imax in new multiplex locations,” said Kim Joo Hyung, CEO of CJ CGV.

Imax has been bolstering its presence in China — the company’s largest foreign market — with 96 theaters set to open there over the next few years. Imax inked 35 deals worldwide in 2009 vs. this year’s 168 signings.

The company’s Chinese rollout has seen significant success as record-setting local production “Aftershock” debuted there this year with an Imax per-screen average of $53,000. Warner Bros.’ “Inception” also earned boffo figures for Imax at the Chinese B.O., topping “Aftershock,” with a whopping per-screen average of nearly $60,000.

As part of the deal, both Imax and CJ CGV plan to share equal parts of box office revenues earned from the announced 15 theaters. In turn, Imax will trade a lower up-front fee than typical sales deals.

The first two theaters are to open in 2011, with the remainder between 2012 and 2015.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more