Imax CEO Richard Gelfond to Receive American-Chinese Diplomacy Tribute


The exhibitor will be honored by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations at its annual gala Oct. 16.

CANNES -- In a Chinese exhibition market where the major Hollywood studios have often stood out as thorns in the sides of government officials, Richard Gelfond has stood out as a skillful and behind-the-scenes diplomat.

So the Imax CEO, who has done business in China for 15 years, will be honored on Oct. 16 for his company's "long-term investments and commitment to constructive relationships in China" at the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations' annual gala at the Plaza Hotel in New York.

"China has become one of the entertainment industry's most important markets and a critical component to Imax's success," Gelfond said in a statement Monday on news of his upcoming tribute.

"We believe movies and movie-making transcend politics and strengthen the bond between our countries," he added.

Imax's rise in China, where it currently has around 150 theaters open and a commitment for up to 260 additional screens across the region, has known obstacles.

But Gelfond told a recent Toronto International Film Festival panel that Imax has taken a nonconfrontational approach to resolving differences with Chinese government officials.

"We've had our struggles, but we haven't aired our challenges publicly, so that's been a good way," he said.

Imax has also developed relationships with China's leading studios and exhibitors, and was part of negotiations for the recent WTO agreement that brings 14 additional Imax or 3D films to China annually beyond the current quota of 20 foreign films.