Leading global entertainment company IMAX Corporation plans to have as many as 17 theatres in India by next year, up from three now, and will soon begin talks with Indian film producers to purchase the rights of Bollywood films for conversion into its own high-tech format.
Canada-based IMAX Corporation CEO Rich Gelfond told PTI here on the sidelines of the just-concluded World Economic Forum summit that India is one market where the company has been slow to move forward so far, but things have begun to change now.
IMAX, which has a significant presence in many countries, including the US, has also begun talks with real estate developers in India to have IMAX movie theatres as anchor tenants in their shopping malls.
The company's IMAX motion picture format is said to be based on its proprietary cinema projection standards that allow it to record and display images of far greater size and resolution than conventional film systems. The company converts movies into this format for display in IMAX theatres, while some movies have also been shot directly in the IMAX format.
"India is one of the very few markets that has been very slow for IMAX to develop and the reasons are the ticket prices have been historically low, most of the films are Bollywood and not Hollywood and multiplexes are small with only four screens mostly," Gelfond said.
"While it has been challenging for us to expand in India, we have grown rapidly in China with about 81 screens and we have plans to open 200 screens in next two years," he said, adding, "In India, we have only three screens open right now, but it has been of great interest to us. But now we are moving ahead with our plans in India. By the end of the year we could have 7-8 screens in India and then about 17 by the next year.
"One of the strategic things we are doing is we are taking Bollywood films and converting them into iMax films. In China also, we are showing Hollywood films and also local films," Gelfond said.
"Starting next year, when we would have about 10 screens, we would start doing Bollywood films. We have started some preliminary discussions. We have signed a partnership with PVR, with whom we are setting up a number of theatres. Then, we are working with Satyam Cinema and also with Adlabs for theatres," he added.
IMAX chief further said he would soon begin talks with film producers for conversion of Bollywood films into the IMAX format.
"It would have been a bad investment if we do it without theatres. Our focus is blockbuster movies. We do that in Hollywood with films like Harry Potter and Spiderman and would look for iconic films like these in India also," he said.