How Big Can IMAX Get?


The highlight of the "coming attractions" reel at IMAX (NYS: IMAX) ? More screens!

Shares of the company behind supersized screens and enhanced projection systems soared 6% yesterday -- and was trading nearly 6% higher this afternoon -- after a pair of deals that will expand the company's network of movie theaters.

The first announcement came yesterday morning, when leading exhibitor AMC expanded its revenue-sharing deal with IMAX. The new deal converts two outright sales into revenue-sharing joint ventures, but it also adds 10 more potential screens to the thriving relationship. AMC and IMAX already have committed to 138 movie theater conversions in recent years, and the new arrangement will translate into as many as 148 IMAX screens in the AMC multiplex chain.

A few hours later, IMAX revealed that it had entered into a joint revenue-sharing deal with TGV Cinemas to bring another seven of its signature screens to Malaysia.

Premium cinema is alive and well.

It's true that 2011 was a dud for exhibitors, but ticket sales have bounced back nicely this year. Customers are also willing to pay a few bucks more for a sensory-rich experience, and that's been welcome news for both IMAX and 3-D outfitter RealD (NYS: RLD) .

The market's certainly starting to notice, as shares of RealD and IMAX are up 49% and 32%, respectively, this year through yesterday's close.

Things will probably only get better. Time Warner's (NYS: TWX) The Dark Knight Rises opens this week. Director Chris Nolan -- an outspoken fan of IMAX -- shot an hour of the movie with enhanced IMAX cameras for those particular screenings.

Action movies generally play well on IMAX's platform, but the audiences will be clamoring to see this movie on the supersized screens given Nolan's dedicated IMAX camera work.

In short, it won't just be the dark knight rising.

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