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IMAX boss says boom at Chinese box office bodes well for post-COVID cinema demand

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The boss of cinema technology firm IMAX Corp (NYSE:IMAX), Rich Gelfond, has said a record performance for its business at the Chinese box office over the Lunar New Year holiday foreshadows pent-up demand for films by movie-goers across the world.

Gelfond told CNBC that people are “going to run to go to the movies” once lockdown restrictions are lifted across various countries.

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The CEO’s assessment came after IMAX reported its best-ever opening weekend for the Chinese New Year holiday, grossing US$25mln through to February 14, 45% higher than the same period a year ago.

The record figure also came despite ongoing cinema capacity limitations of at least 75% across China, with last Friday marking the first time IMAX recorded more than 1mln admissions in a single day in any of its markets.

“Given our recent success at the Chinese box office we suspected our fans would turn out for Chinese New Year in a big way, but these early returns have blown away even our most optimistic projections. With record-breaking box office, strong market share, and multiple releases Filmed In IMAX, this is an important milestone on our road to recovery at the global box office and our long, successful history in China”, Gelfond said in the announcement on Sunday.

The boom in cinema attendance in China, which has rolled back most of its restrictions to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19), may bring some hope to other large cinema chains such as Cineworld Group PLC (LON:CINE) and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (NYSE:AMC), which are currently struggling for survival as most of their theatres across the UK and the US remained closed due to the pandemic.

Shares in IMAX were flat at US$19.85 in pre-market trading in New York on Wednesday.  

Story by ProactiveInvestors


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