'Dark Knight' to the rescue for Imax

Film helps cut exhibitor's third-quarter loss

TORONTO -- Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight" helped giant-screen exhibitor Imax trim its third-quarter loss Thursday.

Toronto-based Imax posted a loss of $2.1 million for the quarter ending Sept. 30, compared with a loss of $7.3 million for the year-ago period.

Revenue jumped 13.2% to $33.5 million, against a year-earlier $29.6 million. Film revenue of $13 million -- compared with 2007's $9.5 million -- helped offset a dip in systems revenue to $14.1 million, from $14.9 million last year.

Imax's bottom line was dented by higher equipment and interest costs as the exhibitor rolled out its digital projection systems.

Despite a tough market, Imax executives told analysts during a conference call that their cash position, available credit facilities and recurring revenue from jointly owned theaters will sufficiently fund its continuing digital rollout.

Imax expects to have between 115 and 125 joint-venture theater systems open for business at the end of 2009.

In January, Imax will rerelease "Dark Knight" and, extending its ties to 20th Century Fox, plans to release a digitally remastered version of James Cameron's "Avatar" on Dec. 18, 2009.