Imax, Warner Bros. pact on 20-film deal

Includes future 'Harry Potter' films, 'Hobbit,' 'Happy Feet 2'

Warner Bros. has shored up its long-running partnership with Imax with an agreement to release up to 20 movies on the specialty exhibitor's screens through 2013.

In announcing the pact Wednesday, officials said the releases will feature a mix of 2D and 3D titles. Some of the 3D pics tagged for Imax venues include "Legends of the Guardian: The Owls of Ga'Hoole," set to hit theaters Sept. 24; "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" on Nov. 19; "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II" on July 15, 2011; "Happy Feet 2" on Nov. 18, 2011; and "The Hobbit," penciled in as a December 2012 release.

"Our track record with Imax has been incredible, and incorporating 3D into this collaborative effort will serve as the ultimate experience for our audiences," Warners domestic distribution president Dan Fellman said. "We are extraordinarily proud of our forthcoming slate and eager to offer these films to audiences in the most premium of movie-going experiences."

International distribution topper Veronika Kwan-Rubinek said Imax's continuing growth overseas means "more and more audiences will have the opportunity to experience our films using this exciting format."

Imax CEO Rich Gelfond touted Warners as an "important strategic partner" for the Toronto-based company. But with all Hollywood majors looking to Imax for potential partnerships on tentpole releases these days, the Imax exec also stressed its expanding ability to juggle a greater number of films in its auditoriums.

"Our digital theater system has accelerated the growth of our theater network and provides us with significant flexibility in the release and programming schedule in our theaters," Gelfond said.

Imax Filmed Entertainment president Greg Foster hailed Warners execs, who "work with the industry's most talented filmmakers, produce and release blockbuster films that captivate global audiences, and make going to the movies a fun, powerful and inspiring experience.

Warners has released 25 films in the Imax format since 2003, including 10 3D titles.
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