3D-glasses-404_675044cIMAX Corporation and AMC Entertainment have just announced an expansion of their 2007  joint venture deal, and they will add between 15 and 25 new IMAX theatres in the U.S. And IMAX Corp CEO Richard L. Gelfond says they are thinking beyond that. AMC and IMAX already had 104 IMAX joint venture theatres in the works, 79 of which already opened, with the other 25 expected to be in business by end of 2010 in the U.S. and Canada. The theatres announced this morning will open in 2011.

With an increasingly voracious appetite for 3D capable screens, IMAX has turned into a real battleground for film companies looking to lock down those screens early for their product. There are currently 316 IMAX commercial theatres and 121 institutional in 47 countries. You can just smell a gold rush here as studios rush to either shoot films in 3D or convert after the fact. The $500 million worldwide gross turned in by Clash of the Titans despite subpar reviews showed both audience demand for 3D and the power of higher ticket prices. And when you consider that Avatar and Alice in Wonderland surpassed the $1 billion worldwide gross mark since last fall after only four other films reached that number in history, who can blame studios for trying to offset the DVD slump and piracy by chasing the 3D buck? I just hope the conversion technology gets better. While true 3D films like Avatar or Shrek Forever After made the glasses worth wearing, did anybody really feel that the viewing experience was enhanced that much by the 3D conversions on Clash of the Titans or Alice in Wonderland?