IMAX Corp. has moved up the launch date of its digital projection system to the second quarter of 2008. IMAX originally expected to have the system ready by the end of next year or in 2009.

Digital projection is particularly important for IMAX and those who distribute and exhibit IMAX films because of the expense of the 15/70mm prints. Each print costs in the region of $25,000; IMAX 3D films require two prints. The savings are expected to increase volume and programming flexibility.

In a release, IMAX said it expects three digital prototypes to be installed during the second quarter of 2008, followed by another three in short order. Once the prototypes meet performance specifications. a full rollout will follow in the third and fourth quarters. The company has announced digital projection deals with exhibitors such as Regal, Muvico and Goodrich Quality Theatres in North America and Wanda Cinema Line Corporation in China.

Third-party audience satisfaction surveys show that the digital projection system meets the brand expectation of 98 per cent of viewers. Forty-six per cent said the experience was an improvement on previous IMAX experiences.