Imax today at this early hour is celebrating its best year ever at the global box office with $1.035 billion, up from last year’s previous record of $1.032B. And Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker hasn’t even opened everywhere yet (the J.J. Abrams film opens at special fan shows at 5 PM tonight stateside, with a wide break at 6 PM; has already debuted in France, Germany and Italy and China).
This year’s big figure speaks loudly to audiences’ appetite for watching event films in the most premium format possible and the health of the theatrical business overall.
Imax’s three big pics were Avengers: Endgame, China’s sci-fi drama Wandering Earth and family fantasy feature Ne Zha. Endgame scored Imax’s best-ever opening weekend worldwide and highest-grossing release in China.
Endgame was the second film in history to be shot entirely with Imax cameras, and smashed the large format’s all-time worldwide opening record with $91.5M – surpassing the global Imax opening of Star War: The Force Awakens ($47.6M) by an astonishing 92%. In China, Endgame grossed $42.4M on 609 Imax screens over its five-day run, surpassing previous record holder Wandering Earth by 66%. Endgame‘s five-day Imax China B.O. bested the entire run of Avengers: Infinity War ($41.2M).
The company also achieved its No. 1 and No. 2 highest-grossing local-language releases in China with Wandering Earth and Ne Zha, respectively. In Japan, Imax had its highest-grossing release with Bohemian Rhapsody and highest-grossing local-language release with Weathering With You.
“In an entertainment landscape where people enjoy more choice than ever, demand for The Imax Experience around the world has never been greater,” Imax CEO Rich Gelfond said. “Fans worldwide are increasingly seeking out immersive entertainment experiences and Imax is uniquely positioned to deliver through our technology, scale, and powerful relationships with world-class creators.”
Other new box office records set by Imax in 2019 were at the foreign B.O. with $368.6M, with local-language pics at $124.3M, in China with $341M, and in 22 countries and territories year to date including India, Japan, France and Germany.
Five of the top 10 highest-grossing Imax pics this year to date featured Imax DNA, meaning they were either filmed in Imax or featured Imax-expanded aspect ratio to deliver up to 26% more picture. In 2020, at least five blockbuster releases were filmed in Imax: MGM/Universal’s No Time to Die, Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman 1984, Paramount/Skydance’s Top Gun: Maverick, Warner Bros’ Tenet and China’s Detective Chinatown 3.