Canada's Imax Corp has sold its first commercial digital cinema projector to Japan's T-Joy, an exhibition joint venture backed by a total of 22 companies, including the Toei group.

The deal gives Imax a much-needed boost. The beleaguered wide-screen entertainment company has seen its market valuation drop dramatically in recent months because of its dependence on cash-strapped North American exhibitors. However, the sale announcement had no immediate effect on the company's share price, which held steady on the Nasdaq at $3.63, 80 cents up from its 52-week low.

Imax subsidiary Digital Projection International (DPI) will be the exclusive supplier of DLP Cinema projectors to T-Joy for their future digital cinemas for a three-year term. T-Joy opened its first digital cinema on December 9 in Hiroshima. The facility has a satellite receiver enabling experimental transmission and reception of digital data by satellite.

Imax purchased UK-based DPI, which licenses DLP technology from Texas Instruments, in September 1999.