The announcement follows a record setting event in Japan recently in which 25,000 people watched the Japanese premiere of Speed Racer: The IMAX Experience at the Tokyo Dome. The venue was converted into a huge IMAX theatre and marks the biggest IMAX audience ever for a single event.
IMAX and Tokyu Recreation will share the cost and profitability of the new theatres. The first is scheduled to be installed at the 109 Cinemas Kawasaki in Kawasaki in November, followed by another in early 2009 at the 109 Cinemas Shobu in Shobu.
Each theatre will be equipped with IMAX's new digital projection system. The third and fourth systems are subject to mutual agreement on sites, projected rates of return and other factors.
'IMAX's new digital theatre system offers us the best of both worlds - we can deliver an immersive cinematic experience that cannot be replicated at home or in a conventional theatre, and we can enjoy the economical and logistical benefits of a digital theatre system,' Hitoshi Sato, president of Tokyu Recreation, said.
'Exhibitor response to our IMAX Digital system has been extremely positive in North America and now we're starting to see increasing enthusiasm internationally,' IMAX co-chairmen and co-CEOs, Richard L Gelfond and Bradley J Wechsler. 'Japan is an important market for IMAX, and we believe this partnership, combined with our new digital theatre system, will serve as a catalyst for further expansion into additional international commercial markets.'