Imax chief executive Rich Gelfond said blockbuster titles will probably be back on Imax screens later this year, as per Top Gun: Maverick last year and, more recently, Titanic’s 25th anniversary re-release.
“Yes, I think they do. Especially seeing what happens at the Academy Awards, and what wins,” said Gelfond when asked on a conference call if some movies — from Top Gun to The Wandering Earth 2 in China — might return to Imax theaters.
“I think [for] films that do especially well in Imax, that are suited for the Imax screen, the demand runs for a very long time. And I think you will see some of the big films come back again.”
Top Gun: Maverick scored six Oscar nominations including best picture, along with adapted screenplay, sound, film editing, visual effects and original song. The Tom Cruise-starrer ($1.48 billion worldwide) was released in May and jumpstarted the global box office. It was re-released in large screen format for two weeks in December.
The James Cameron-directed epic Avatar sequel ($2.2 billion worldwide), released in mid-December, took a best picture nomination, and noms for production design, sound and visual effects. It’s the biggest first-run film ever for Imax.
The company earlier today reported softer fourth quarter 2022 revenue and profit. Gelfond cited a weak Chinese market that only started to recover quite late in the year but has done a complete 180-degree turn since then. As Covid raged, “Six weeks ago people were locked in their homes with drones flying over their heads and boxes of chicken thrown at their doors, ” he said, “How fast they’ve come to a record Chinese New Year” for Imax.
“I think we’re encouraged, but also want to be a little bit measured about changes in the world in another six weeks,” he said.
Covid is still with us. And U.S.-China relations, which no one on the call asked about and Gelfond didn’t address directly, are strained.