3-pic deal set for 2011

Largescreen exhib Imax announced Wednesday a joint venture with Disney to unspool three of the studio’s 3D titles in 2011.

Deal includes the Mouse House’s Seth Green starrer “Mars Needs Moms,” set for release March 11, followed by “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” on May 20 and Disney/Pixar’s “Cars 2″ on June 24.

Partnership comes after Imax scored a record-setting performance last weekend, with “Toy Story 3″ earning $8.4 million (8%) of the $110.3 million opening. “Toy 3″ became the company’s highest-grossing toon opener, surpassing the $5.1 million benchmark set last year by Paramount-DreamWorks Animation’s “Monsters vs. Aliens.” “Cars 2″ marks the second Disney/Pixar release for Imax.

“The incredible performance of our Imax releases in 2009 and 2010 demonstrated that the combination of Imax and Disney resonates with moviegoers worldwide,” said Disney prexy of distribution Chuck Viane.

Disney and Imax most recently partnered for 3D titles “Alice in Wonderland” and last year’s Robert Zemeckis-directed “A Christmas Carol.”

The Disney/Imax pact reps the second multi-picture deal this year for Imax. The company entered an agreement earlier this year to release up to 20 Warner Bros. titles, including a “Batman 3″ project and the two-part “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” installments set to launch in 3D on Nov. 19 and July 15, 2011.

“Mars,” which co-stars Joan Cusack as a mom abducted to the Red Planet, is based on the kid tome by Berkeley Breathed and is directed by Simon Wells. Zemeckis serves as exec producer.

Disney’s fourth “Pirates” installment reunites stars Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush, with franchise newcomers Penelope Cruz and helmer Rob Marshall.

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