IMAX Corp. and Austrian exhibitor Cineplexx Kinobetriebe have signed a joint-venture agreement that will see three digital projection cinemas installed in the cities of Graz, Vienna and Hohenems.

The pact marks the giant screen company's first joint-venture in Europe. Thus far, IMAX has deals for over 180 digital projection systems, with 18 operational and a further 45 to 50 screens set to open by the end of 2008. All three cinemas in the new deal will be operational by the end of 2009.

In a statement, IMAX co-chairmen and co-CEOs, Richard Gelfond and Brad Wechsler called the deal an important first step for the company's digital growth strategy in Europe. 'We believe a partnership with Austria's leading exhibitor will help to strengthen our brand in the region and expand our audience base during a time when our film slate and interest from Hollywood studios is at an unprecedented level.'

Calling the partnership a natural fit for IMAX, executive vice president of theatre development Larry O'Reilly described Austria as a 'virtually untapped market.'

In December 2007, IMAX and US exhibitor AMC Entertainment unveiled plans to install 100 digital projection systems while in March of this year the company expanded its joint venture with Regal Entertainment Group to 52 systems.