Imax CEO Talks About Impact of AMC Deal for Carmike

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Richard Gelfond

"The Carmike deal provides potentially more locations for us to grow with, together," Richard Gelfond told the Deutsche Bank annual media Internet and telecom conference.

AMC Theatres' $1.1 billion deal to acquire the Carmike theater chain will grow Imax's domestic theater network, company CEO Richard Gelfond said Monday, but owing more to Adam Aron, who became AMC CEO and president in January.

"The Carmike deal provides potentially more locations for us to grow with, together," Gelfond told analysts during an appearance at the Deutsche Bank annual media Internet and telecom conference that was webcast.

But the Imax topper added the potential to supersize his U.S. theater network will come more from AMC two months ago installing Aron as its head. "He (Aron) indicated he wants to see a significant growth of the Imax network," Gelfond said after a meeting last week in Los Angeles with the new AMC topper.

AMC acquired the Carmike theater chain in a deal that will combine the Chinese-owned chain's 5,426 screens with Carmike’s 2,954 screens and that, once completed, will allow AMC to become the biggest theater circuit in the U.S. and around the world.

For its part, Imax is around halfway towards its goal of getting to around 2400 screens within the next three years, Gelfond told analysts. That's against over 1,000 theaters now in his global network, and another 350 screens in backlog.

Gelfond also said Imax will do more distribution deals for original content after a recent agreement with Discovery Communications to offer Discovery Channel 18 months of exclusive global TV rights for up to ten Imax documentaries after the titles’ theatrical release across Imax’s institutional theater network.

"We'll start at a low risk, low return basis, and if it works, it will be higher return," Gelfond said of the original content distribution strategy.

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