Chinese cinema chain JinYi Media has agreed a 12-theater deal with premium large format tech company Imax. The deal involves upgrading seven of Jinyi’s existing Imax sites to use laser technology, and the installation of Imax kit at five new sites. The move reflects China’s current ability to operate cinemas largely normally, and the country’s 2020 status as the world’s largest theatrical market.

Despite Chinese cinemas having been closed for nearly six months, China’s gross box office this year is forecast to exceed $3 billion. Imax has been a significant driver of the industry’s rebound. Since theaters reopened in late July, Imax sites have grossed nearly $80 million in mainland China with a market share of approximately 3.5%, up from 2.6% during the same period in 2019.

The new order will increase Imax’s position in China to 989 screens, including those in operation and on order.

The seven theatre upgrades included in the agreement span JinYi Imax theatres in 1st and 2nd tier cities, including the top-performing Beijing Joy City JinYi Imax. The announcement brings the total number of JinYi and its affiliated Imax theatres to 105 since they signed their first agreement in 2009, including 39 directly operated Jinyi IMAX theaters opened as of December 31, 2019.

JinYi is currently China’s second-largest film exhibitor. In 2019, JinYi’s box office was approximately RMB 2.88 billion ($440 million) with 2,667 screens across 424 cinemas, including franchised cinemas.

IMAX with Laser includes a 4K laser projection system that features a new optical engine, custom designed lenses, and a suite of proprietary technology that delivers brighter, sharper images.

“(With) this new agreement we are confident that Imax will continue to strengthen our brand and drive strong business results as the industry recovers and develops in the post-pandemic market,” said Li Xiaodong, president of Guangzhou JinYi Media Corporation.