Already a brand force in China, IMAX is expanding its Middle Kingdom footprint with a fund earmarked for local-language productions. The IMAX China Film Fund has been set up with subsidiary IMAX China and partner China Media Capital with the aim of investing in a minimum of 10 Mandarin-language tentpoles based on an initial capitalization of up to $50M. The partnership with CMC will target ivestments of $3M-$7M per film in a market whose local box office share is about on par with Hollywood’s.
IMAX is well-known in China where large-format screens and 3D are huge box office drivers. This weekend’s champ, Jurassic World, grossed $11.8M of the $100M Middle Kingdom total on 208 IMAX screens. IMAX occupied the top-grossing locations in China where the company’s all-time record for an opening weekend is Avengers: Age Of Ultron with $17.05M. On that one, eight of the Top 10 locations were IMAX engagements.
The company also releases local product like last year’s The Monkey King and the Chen Kaige’s upcoming 3D epic The Monk Comes Down The Mountain which goes out on July 3. The Fund also is earmarked to support IMAX’s existing slate of Chinese IMAX DMR product.
IMAX is targeting new productions that can leverage its brand, relationships, technology and release windows. They will also have the flexibility to produce IMAX and non-IMAX content, and develop original films or co-finance studio productions. Decisions will be made by an IMAX-CMC greenlight committee. Discussions are underway with additional investors.
Further, the fund will look to leverage CMC’s experience within China’s content-creation industry. CMC, which is partnered with Oriental DreamWorks and led by well-respected founding Chairman, Ruigang Li, acquired a 10% interest in IMAX’s China subsidiary in 2014.