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China’s Wanda Group commits to build up to 120 new Imax screens by 2021
China's Wanda Cinema Line Corp. has signed a deal with Imax to build up to 120 new giant-format movie theatres in the country by 2021, making China Imax's biggest market in the world.
Wanda, the movie exhibition unit of real estate and media conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, plans to open 20 new Imax theatres a year from 2016, in addition to the 82 Imax theatres that it already operates in shopping and entertainment centres in major cities across China.
In July, Wanda and Imax revised an existing joint venture agreement, stipulating that Wanda would build at least 40 and as many as 120 new theatres over the next 12 years. The new deal ups Wanda's commitment to 120 new theatres.
The Wanda deal also adds momentum to Imax's pivot towards brighter laser projection technology in its cinemas. Half of Wanda's new 80 Imax theaters will be outfitted with the new laser technology, giving moviegoers the highest-definition images.
This latest Wanda deal caps off an ambitious year in the entertainment sector for the conglomerate, led by Wang Jianlin, China's richest individual.
In September, the company announced plans to build an $8.2 billion film studio and entertainment facility in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao. The company flew in a slew of Hollywood A-listers, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman and Harvey Weinstein, to add glitz and lend credence to the announcement.
Also in September, Wanda donated $20 million to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a wing of its new film museum in Los Angeles.
Wang has said his ambition is to build Wanda into one of the world's biggest players in the "culture industry."
A boom in cinema building has been under way in China since at least 2007, when the country had approximately 3,000 movie screens. According to film market research company EntGroup, today there are 17,740 screens in China.
15th December 2009 - IMAX EYES CHINA GROWTH
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