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China presses ahead with Dmax

Company to equip 100 screens in three years

BEIJING — China is pressing ahead with Dmax, its rival version of Imax, unveiling plans to equip 100 cinemas with the giant-screen format within three years.

The state-backed China Film Group, one of the system’s developers, announced the news as China Film Stellar Theater Chain signed an agreement to purchase 18 of the screens.

As in other industries, China is always looking at ways to provide domestic competition to foreign companies.

To bolster the format, which is slightly smaller than an Imax screen, China Film Group said that a series of local pics would be screened this summer in Dmax, including fantasy epic “Painted Skin: The Resurrection” and helmer Chen Kaige’s “Caught in the Web.”

China Film also said Dmax versions of Universal’s “Battleship” and 20th Century Fox’s “This Means War” had been produced. Both conversion were made under the China Film Group Distribution pact.

Dmax is a lot cheaper than Imax for auds. Tickets cost just 40 yuan ($4.80) compared to prices of up to $24 for Imax in some venues.

However, Imax’s record in China is impressive. It is contracted to open 225 theaters in China, of which 92 are already operating.

And there is no sign of this tailing off. Earlier this month, Imax signed a deal with a unit of the private-sector Bona group to build an Imax theater in the Nongken Bona Intl. Cineplex in Tianjin, which is scheduled to open in September.

Dmax was jointly developed by the China Research Institute of Film Science & Technology and China Film Co. The developers have sold 15 Dmax systems so far.

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