Giant-screen pioneer IMAX Corp. and US exhibitor AMC Entertainment have signed a joint-venture agreement to install 100 IMAX digital projection systems at AMC locations in 33 major US markets.

The agreement promises to double IMAX's installed base by 2010. The US Nasdaq exchange responded to the news by boosting IMAX's share price by nearly 35% before opening this morning.

The rollout of the first 50 systems will begin in July 2008, followed by 25 in 2009 and a further 25 in 2010. Most will be installed in AMC's best-performing locations, including megaplexes in New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia. In October, IMAX announced it was moving up the launch of its digital projection system to mid-2008; no doubt a signal of the impending deal.

In a statement, AMC chairman and CEO Peter C. Brown said the expanded relationship with IMAX was a key part of the circuit's move into digital projection. IMAX co-chairs and co-CEO Rich Gelfond and Brad Wechsler said the deal was 'a terrific endorsement' of IMAX's digital technology.

Major studio releases slated for IMAX exhibition include: The Spiderwick Chronicles (February 2008), Shine A Light (April 2008), Kung Fu Panda (June 2008), The Dark Knight (July 2008), Deep Sea-quel 3D (working title, February 2009), Monsters vs. Aliens 3D (March 2009), How To Train Your Dragon 3D (November 2009), Hubble 3D (working title, February 2010) and Shrek Goes Fourth 3D (May 2010).