Imax Forms Joint Venture to Distribute Home Theater Content in China

The deal with Wasu Digital TV Media Group will see Hollywood and local theatrical content marketed to Chinese households.

TORONTO – Imax has taken a major step toward introducing its mass-market home theater option in China.

The giant screen exhibitor and TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings have formed a joint-venture partnership with Wasu Digital TV Media Group, a Chinese digital content provider.

WASU is also one of five operators approved by Chinese authorities to deliver multimedia content to the home.

WASU will license and distribute Imax-enhanced Hollywood and Chinese theatrical content via the Imax-TCL premium home theater system.

Imax has a proprietary system through an alliance with startup Prima Cinema that can encrypt and transmit theatrical releases from Hollywood studios for secure home viewing.

The Imax home theater system is expected to launch in China and select other global markets in 2015.

The Toronto-based exhibitor has formed other recent partnerships in China to continue its penetration of the fast-expanding market, including selling a 20-percent stake in its Imax China division for $80 million to CMC Capital Partners and FountainVest Partners, a China-focused private equity firm.

"Following our joint venture with TCL and our investment in Prima Cinemas' secure content transmission technology, today's content alliance marks the next logical step in the development of our premium home theater offering in China," said Imax CEO Richard Gelfond in a statement on Wednesday.