'Day' remake gets Imax treatment

Keanu Reeves starrer hits theaters Dec. 12

Imax lost a Muggle but has gained a space alien.

The giant-screen exhibitor said Monday that it will release Fox's remake of the sci-fi classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still" simultaneously with the studio unspooling the Keanu Reeves starrer in conventional theaters Dec. 12.

"The suspense, action and sheer intensity of 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' is ideally suited to Imax's immersive format," Fox domestic distribution president Bruce Snyder said.

The news comes just weeks after word that Warner Bros. was bouncing "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" -- which had been set for a simultaneous Imax opening -- from November to July.

"Completing our 2008 slate with this action title is a great way to enter the holiday season and kick off 2009," Imax co-CEOs Richard Gelfond and Bradley Wechsler said.

Imax Filmed Entertainment chairman Greg Foster added that "Day" will play especially well with "the elusive, tech-savvy, 15- to 30-year-old demographic."

Like the 1951 original, "Day" involves a space alien (Reeves) and his giant robot counterpart who visit Earth.

Imax ticket sales have padded grosses on Warners' "The Dark Knight" by more than $55 million. But dozens of those screens should come available soon, and the giant-screen exhibitor was caught a bit off guard by the "Potter" move.

In fact, another tentpole film will play in Imax auditoriums in the weeks between the departure of the Batman sequel and the debut of "Day." "Eagle Eye," a thriller from DreamWorks/Paramount starring Shia LaBeouf, bows Sept. 26 in Imax and conventional theaters.

The push into day-and-date releasing of Hollywood tentpoles is a new strategy for Imax, so execs have been thrilled with the giant-screen success of "Dark Knight." The Warners film recently became Imax's top-grossing first-run release, though "The Polar Express" -- also a Warners film -- has a higher cumulative boxoffice thanks to seasonal rereleases.