China's Huayi Bros., Imax Deepen Relationship With First Theater Deal

Courtesy of Intercontinental Film Distributors
'Dragon Blade'

After making movies together, the 'Dragon Blade' studio has acquired three Imax screens.

First Huayi Brothers made 2010's Aftershock and other local-language Chinese films with Imax.

Now the leading Chinese film and TV company has deepened its pact with the Canada-based giant screen exhibitor by buying its three Imax theaters.

Two will be added to existing multiplexes in Beijing and Wuhan, and the third will go into a new construction project in Hefei.

Aftershock, Imax's first local-language title digitally supersized for its screens, went on to gross more than $102 million. In 2012, Imax and Huayi Brothers expanded their movie slate to eight titles from the Chinese film studio, including the recent Chinese box office hit Dragon Blade.

That made Huayi Brothers Imax's largest film partner in China, producing eight of the 20 Chinese language titles the large-format theater chain has released. Besides screening the local-language movie releases on its screens in China, Imax has also exported the local-language titles to other large markets.

Huayi Brothers' move into owning and running Imax theaters in China follows a separate expansion into Hollywood after the Chinese studio recently inked a 18-film co-financing and distribution agreement with STX Entertainment. "Our partnership with Imax is an investment in innovation," Huayi Brothers president James Wang said Monday in a statement.

Huayi Brothers was established by brothers Wang Zhongjun (Dennis Wang) and Wang Zhonglei (James Wang) in 1994. "Today's agreement builds on this success and marks a new chapter in our strategic relationship," Don Savant, Imax's managing director, Asia Pacific added in his own statement.