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June 16, 2010

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

2 more IMAX screens to open

TWO new IMAX outlets will open next month in Shanghai in time for the highly anticipated release of "Aftershock" by director Feng Xiaogang, officials from IMAX Corporation said at the ongoing Shanghai International Film Festival.

"Aftershock," a film about the devastating 1976 Tangshan Earthquake, is also the first Chinese film to be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of the IMAX format.

Peace Cinema is the only commercial cinema in Shanghai with an IMAX screen.

But by July 22, the official national release date of "Aftershock," city movie buffs will be able to watch the IMAX 3-D version of the film at two theaters: Pudong's Stellar Cinema City and Wujiaochang's Wanda International Cineplex.

Richard Gelfond, CEO of IMAX Corporation, said the huge success of the IMAX 3-D screenings for "Avatar" in China earlier this year strengthened its confidence in the Chinese film market.

"Our momentum in China continues as we build on existing relationships with high-profile exhibitors and enter the business of releasing local-language IMAX releases," said Gelfond. "We also hope to provide an international market for Chinese films with IMAX technology and format."

So far, there are about 33 commercial IMAX cinemas in China. The number will rapidly increase to 75 by 2012 because of advances in digital projection technology. 3-D tools are becoming more accessible for smaller budgets.

Film directors, however, expressed a cautious attitude towards the spread of 3-D yesterday at a forum of the film festival.

"Without 3-D, "Avatar" is an impressive story," said Hong Kong film director Pang Ho-Cheung. "There are also many (poorly done) 3-D films with technologies but nothing else."

The 3-D film has "gradually developed" in China and has a long way to go, participants said. Directors and consumers should care not only about technology but also storytelling and characters, film directors told the forum.

A 3-D film requires a huge investment and it's a challenge for Asian directors and producers to get the investment back. Yet no one can deny the huge market demand for 3-D content and it's time to penetrate the sector, industry officials told the forum.

The IMAX Group said it is optimistic of moving beyond first-tier cities of Shanghai and Beijing into provincial Chinese cities such as Hangzhou and Wuhan.


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