Stellar Cinemas Orders More Imax Screens in China

The giant screen exhibitor and parent SMI Corporation will pact on an initial four joint venture theaters, with an option to roll out another three.

TORONTO - Imax’s focus on China is paying dividends yet again as it unveiled Tuesday a deal with SMI Corporation and its Stellar Cinemas chain to install up to seven new digital theaters.

The agreement between Imax China and SMI International Cinema will see Stellar add four joint venture screens across China, with the first to open in a Beijing shopping mall in spring 2012.

The next three theaters are expected to open in Nanjing, Chongqing, and Fuzhou in the second half of 2013.

Stellar also retains an option to install another three theaters.

Imax is expanding in China to serve a fast-growing cinema industry.

"The success of our first Imax theatre in Shanghai has shown us that audiences in China want to see movies in the best possible way, and that means Imax," Qin Hong, executive chairman and CEO of SMI Corporation, which already operates three Imax theatrers, said in a a statement.

Stellar operates 208 screens in China, as the third-largest exhibitor in China not run by the state.

Toronto-based Imax has also signed separate theater deals with CJ CGV Holdings and Wanda Cinemas, China’s largest theater chain.