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A normal IMAX movie accounts for somewhere around 8%-12% of the total box office opening weekend, but IMAX accounted for 24% of Tron: Legacy's opening weekend domestically. And internationally IMAX generated $2.2 million, nearly 10% of the $23 million total box office. To give that a little perspective, the opening for Tron:Legacy was even bigger than the opening for Avatar at the same time last year.
Normally IMAX is helped by big box office hits like Harry Potter in "a tide that lifts all boats" kind of way. But smaller movies like Tron demonstrate whether moviegoers are tiring of paying extra for IMAX. Theaters aren't as full and other options are available, so it's a great opportunity to see how much value IMAX really offers.
Based on last weekend, it appears people are not only still willing to pay extra but prefer IMAX to any other offering. Tron: Legacy was also released in RealD (NYSE: RLD ) theaters, but RealD couldn't hold a candle to IMAX's dominance. RealD is trying to keep up but with a superior revenue model, better brand, and increasing customer loyalty, IMAX is far and away the winner of this theater battle.
And more theaters are on the way with 201 new signings for IMAX in 2010. The added theaters will keep revenue growing and expand IMAX's footprint internationally.
Next up at IMAX theaters are The Green Hornet, Mars Needs Moms, and Sucker Punch. I'll continue to watch IMAX closely for signs of slippage, but if this kind of momentum continues, the sky is the limit for shares of IMAX.
At the movies with the Fool: