Spain exhib pacts for Imax retrofit

Exhib hoping to take advantage of "overscreening"

TORONTO — Imax Corp. has inked with Spanish exhib Yelmo Cineplex to retrofit theaters in three of its multiplexes using the new MPX technology.

Imax is hoping to benefit from a large potential retrofit market in the face of widespread “overscreening” across the U.S. and around the world.

“A lot of these megaplexes have 20 screens,” Imax co-chairman/co-CEO Rich Gelfond said, “and frequently there are a few that aren’t performing, so you could take these screens and turn them into an Imax premiere screen. It seems to me an intelligent financial move.”

The company estimates there are 300 potential Imax retrofits in the U.S.

The bill for retrofitting an existing theater is about $2 million, far cheaper than the $6 million to $8 million it costs to build a new Imax theater.

The success of digitally remastered Hollywood films, including two installments of the “Matrix” series, helped clinch the deal.

Gelfond is hoping that if retrofitting takes off, a jump in the number of commercial Imax screens will help make the conversion of 35mm Hollywood films to Imax, using Imax’s proprietary DMR technology, even more attractive for the studios.

Yelmo is a joint venture between Loews Cineplex Entertainment and Yelmo Films. Imax also sees the deal as a vote of confidence from Loews, which already operates three Imax theaters.

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