'Avengers,' 'Dark Shadows' to split weekend showtimes at all digital Imax runs

It turns out Disney-Marvel’s “The Avengers” won’t have to vacate any Imax houses this weekend after all.

Disney and Warner Bros. agreed Monday to evenly split digital Imax showtimes this weekend between “Avengers” and “Dark Shadows,” leaving the Marvel pic in all 275 digital-only Imax screens from which it collected a record-setting $15.3 million last weekend. Originally, “Avengers” was slated to lose 200 of those Imax locations to “Dark Shadows,” as dictated by a pre-existing, three-year pact inked between Imax and Warners in April 2010.

Prior to Monday’s agreement, “Dark Shadows” had secured 225 Imax locations all to itself from varying U.S. markets — though many of the top-grossing venues fell within the 75 screens that “Avengers’” was slated to retain. By sharing screens and staggering showtimes, “Dark Shadows” now has runs in all 300 Imax houses, with approximately 25 print-only locations to itself (“Avengers,” a digital-only release, couldn’t play in those.)

And as a marquee event, “Avengers” simply drives more foot traffic to theaters, which could benefit “Dark Shadows.”

It’s a win-win … win situation for Disney, Warners and individual exhibitors, who kickstarted the screen-sharing talks after “Avengers” posted a staggering $207.4 million overall domestic bow.

The practice of sharing Imax screens hasn’t been widely adopted in the U.S., but for a while now overseas — particularly in Asia — studios and exhibitors have been sharing Imax showtimes for major tentpoles. It happened last summer with “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Cars 2.”

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