Sam Mendes' 'Skyfall' First James Bond Film on Imax Screens

The Canadian exhibitor also told analysts Thursday that it will screen more fanboy titles, and fewer animated movies, going forward.

TORONTO - The first James Bond franchise title is headed to Imax screens.

The giant screen exhibitor on Thursday said it will digitally-remaster Sam MendesSkyfall and release the tentpole in Imax theaters simultaneous with the film's international release on Oct. 26, and its domestic release on Nov. 9, 2012.

Skyfall, which marks Daniel Craig's third outing as James Bond 007, comes from Albert R. Broccoli's EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The announcement from Imax came as the Toronto-based exhibitor signaled to investors it will screen more fanboy movie titles in its global network going forward, compared to animated films, and more local language titles screening in Imax theaters in major markets like China and India.

Also in the cards at Imax: more pre-releases of Hollywood titles after the early window success for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol this past Christmas season, ahead of generating to date $70 million on Imax screens.

“It (MI4) got the attention of exhibitors and studios, and we believe we will participate in more early release windows in the future,” Imax CEO Richard Gelfond told analysts Thursday during a morning call.

And Imax is bullish about the prospects for Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games on its giant screens, especially on the opening weekend.

“It has generated a level of interest we didn’t anticipate being quite as high as it is. We thought it would be terrific, but we didn’t think it would be as massive as it seems to be,” Greg Foster, chairman and president of Imax Filmed Entertainment, told analysts.

By contrast, animated titles in domestic Imax theaters last year did not perform as anticipated, which drove down per-screen averages and, ultimately, the exhibitor’s fiscal 2011 earnings.

Imax is also looking forward to more business in China after a recent WTO agreement gave it a carve-out for 14 additional super-sized movie titles in that market beyond the existing 20 film quota for the major studios.

“We expect to program more Hollywood titles in China,” Gelfond said.