In the wake of expansion into China, Russia and India, Toronto-based large format operator IMAX Corporation has announced its intention to establish itself in more European markets.
Speaking in London at the European launch of the company's DMR technology - which digitally re-masters 35mm films for projection on IMAX systems - company co-chiefs Richard L Gelfond and Bradley J Wechsler said that out of 74 European cities with over 1 million inhabitants, IMAX is currently present in 25. "Our goal is to enter them all by 2005," said Gelfond.
IMAX currently has 44 theatres in 16 European territories including the UK, Germany and Poland, with a further 16 theatres currently in development.
The expansion coincides with a turnaround in IMAX's fortunes over the last 12 months, thanks in part to higher profile product such as the Tom Cruise-narrated Space Station, and the return to health of certain North American exhibitors.
DMR product has also contributed to IMAX's return to form. For example, Star Wars: Episode II Attack Of The Clones - The IMAX Experience took $1.4m on its debut weekend from 58 screens earlier this month.
The company announced earlier this month that it expects to return to profit this year.
"We view DMR as a seminal event in the business evolution of IMAX," said Bradley J Wechsler. "It vastly broadens the film content available in IMAX theatres around the world. For theatres, it differentiates them from competitors, and justifies a premium price. For studios, DMR will drive incremental revenues."
As a cost of around $2m-$4m per film, IMAX is aiming to release three to four live action DMR titles next year, at least one day and date with a traditional 35mm release.
Other upcoming IMAX films include Treasure Planet - released day and date in the US on Nov 27 - James Cameron's Ghosts Of The Abyss and Disney's The Lion King and Aladdin.