Sources tell me that a deal for IMAX to take over the iconic theater on Hollywood Boulevard is nearly complete, subject to permitting approval. The news comes just a few months after Chinese TV maker TCL paid more than $5 million for the naming rights to the venue which is now called TCL Chinese Theatre. With IMAX getting involved the plan now is to turn the Hollywood location into the Canadian company’s premiere theater for big budget premieres. “IMAX doesn’t have any theaters in Southern California that are suited for the opening of big action movies. With such a prime location, this would become it,” a source told me today. Details are sketchy on when discussions started on IMAX moving into the Chinese and how much money changed hands. Also, because of the historical landmark status of the Chinese Theatre, any deal would have to get the approval of the City of Los Angeles to go forward. However, sources tell me that IMAX doesn’t anticipate any problems with that. Once those approvals are in place, the theater will shut down in late May for a full technological refurbishment. It is expected to reopen in September with a new screen, new seats, a new sound system and a digital projection system. That digital projection system will be replaced about 18 to 24 months later with the new laser projection system that IMAX is bringing online in its venues. The system at the Chinese is anticipated to be the largest in all the IMAX theaters. Also, with over 980 seats, the Chinese IMAX would be the largest among the 730 theaters the company has around the world. The screen that the company intends to put in the new TCL Chinese Theatre location would be the third largest that IMAX has in North America.
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