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IMAX Scores More Movie Magic With "Avatar"

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James Cameron's Avatar continues to be sweet celluloid for IMAX (Nasdaq: IMAX  ) .

Sure, News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS  ) Fox is the studio behind the popular flick, but IMAX has been the real winner in the film's run. Avatar became the highest-grossing flick -- worldwide -- last week. It likely took the domestic crown last night.

These tallies wouldn't have been possible without IMAX  because Avatar topped the $150 million mark in ticket sales at IMAX theaters worldwide over the weekend.

The really juicy nugget for IMAX here is that its premium screens continue to take market share from traditional multiplex exhibitors. The 179 domestic IMAX locations screening Cameron's blockbuster account for just 2% of the screens showing Avatar, yet clocked in with 21% of the box-office receipts.

This is great news for IMAX, obviously. If there is any studio pondering a tent-pole release, it realizes it's unlikely to get there without a digitally remastered IMAX version.

It just isn't a coincidence that the top flick in each of the past three years -- Avatar in 2009, Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) The Dark Knight in 2008, and Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) Spider-Man 3 in 2007 -- has been released simultaneously in both traditional and IMAX formats.

The streak is likely to continue in 2010. When Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Marvel teams up with Viacom's (NYSE: VIA  ) Paramount to put out Iron Man 2 in May, it will be blown up on IMAX. Disney's Toy Story 3 and DreamWorks Animation's (NYSE: DWA  ) Shrek Forever After will get IMAX 3-D treatments a month apart.

It's the network effect in motion. As more blockbusters go the IMAX route, the bigger the draw for multiplex owners to turn to IMAX to beef up one of their screens. Moviegoers aren't shying away from paying a premium for IMAX (and an even bigger markup for 3-D), so box-office grosses grow even more.

Just like Avatar, IMAX is on top of the world.

Have you had a good or a bad IMAX experience lately? Share your perspective in the comments box below.

IMAX was recommended three summers ago to Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers. You can read the original recommendation and have access to all of the growth stock picks with a free trial. Walt Disney is an Inside Value pick. Walt Disney and DreamWorks Animation are Stock Advisor selections.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't like the way he'd look blown up on an IMAX screen. He owns shares in Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy, and it looks smoking hot on one of those eight-story IMAX screens.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2010, at 3:54 PM, futuresboy wrote:

    No problem getting a seat in a regular theater for Avatar.

    But just try to get into Avatar IMAX 3-D even 5 weeks into the run. Shows are consistently sold out for last minute arrivals, and on weekends you better have bought your tickets days ahead to be assured a seat.

    What does this tell you?


  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2010, at 11:06 PM, tretchikoff wrote:


    Wife & I sow Awatar in 3D @Imax in Auckland New Zealand ,taking about 1week to reserve our tickets for 12th Jan,at the back for best viewing & cinema was packed.We did not like the movie,since we're not into sience fiction& the movie is a hybrin of the old Tarsan/Western variety: swinging on the viens&the head gear/bow & arrows of Awater aliens.But we had the experience,to understand Imax phenomenon & our investment is doing great.

    Looking forward to IMAX SHARES HITTING $20.

    Most of the people that saw this movie are impressed,but we in NZ might be a bit biased,since WETA, a NZ company, did all the tech design.



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