IMAX shares jumped more than 4.4% in early trading after it announced that AMC Entertainment has agreed to expand their revenue sharing relationship — and install additional large screen theaters in the U.S. They will add at least eight IMAX theaters and convert two existing ones into joint ventures. The number of new installations could go to 18, which would bring the number of IMAX theaters at AMC venues to 148. The eight new installations will be in Charlotte, N.C.; Monmouth, N.J.; Dearborn, Mich.; Niles and Crestwood, Ill.; and San Francisco, Redondo Beach and Anaheim, Calif. The companies say that at least three of them will open by the end of this year. The announcement impressed investors who’ve wondered whether IMAX is running out of opportunities to grow in the U.S. — particularly as large exhibition chains including AMC build their own large-screen theaters. IMAX shares are down 17% over the last 12 months, but up 29.6% so far in 2012 as the company has aggressively expanded overseas, especially in China. The company has a strong relationship with the country’s Wanda Group, which in May agreed to buy AMC for $2.6B — most in the assumption of AMC debt. The new deal with AMC shows that IMAX “still has runway for growth in the U.S.,” says CEO Richard Gelfond.
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