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Imax, Shanghai Film to open 19 screens in China

HONG KONG (AP) — Imax and China's biggest state-owned film exhibitor are teaming up to open 19 giant screen cinemas in the world's No. 2 movie market. Imax Corp. and Shanghai Film Corp. said Tuesday that a "significant number" of the theaters will open before the end of 2015. No financial terms were disclosed. Shanghai Film already operates three Chinese Imax theatres. Box office revenues in China surged 27 percent last year to $3.6 billion, making the country a crucial market for international film companies. Government policies aimed at encouraging growth of Imax and 3-D movies are helping boost the format's popularity in China's tightly controlled film market. "Transformers: Age of Extinction," the latest instalment of Michael Bay's blockbuster robot film franchise, earned nearly $10 million at Chinese Imax screens on its opening weekend, more than double the previous record, the company said. The deal comes a year after Imax partnered with another Chinese company, Wanda Cinema, to open up to 120 of the Canadian company's theatres. At the end of 2013, Imax had 173 cinemas in China and plans for 230 more by 2021, according to its latest annual report. That puts China on track to become Imax's No. 1 market globally, overtaking the United States, where box office revenue growth is stagnating and the company has about 380 cinemas. ____ Online: Imax: www.imax.com

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