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Imax in Mainframe’s picture

Pact to produce giant-screen 3-D pix

Giant-screen leader Imax Corp. has agreed to make a strategic investment in Mainframe Entertainment, a leading Canadian producer of 3-D computer-generated animation.

Under the terms of the deal, Imax will invest $16 million in Mainframe. The investment is split equally between equity and convertible debt, which combined would give Imax roughly a 30% stake in the company.

Additionally, Imax and Mainframe will establish a joint venture to co-produce 3-D CGI films for release in Imax theaters. The generation, funding and ownership of the films will be equally shared, as well as proceeds from ancillary sales.

Brad Wechsler, co-CEO of Imax, said, “We believe (3-D CG animation) is an important strategic part of our future, which was one of the key motivations for us hooking up with Mainframe.”

‘Gulliver’ next

Mainframe, which produces such CG-animated television shows as “ReBoot” and “Beast Wars,” is at work on “Gulliver’s Travels,” the first jointly produced Imax film to come out of the deal. Summer 2001 is the expected release date.

Ian Pearson, prexy and chief operating officer of Mainframe, co-wrote “Gulliver’s Travels” along with pro-duction designer Brendan McCarthy (“Mad Max”). Pearson said that they are “working as basically one company on this project.”

Wechsler said of the deal, “We’re not only getting equity in Mainframe, but we’re buying access to what we think are fairly unique CGI production capabilities in a very cost-effective, efficient fashion.”

In various stages of development are two Imax-Mainframe projects that will follow “Gulliver’s Travels”: “Pied Piper,” a musical based on the popular fairy tale, and “Pandora’s Box.”

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