IMAX (Nasdaq: IMAX ) is a BRIC house.
The global leader in premium exhibitions continues to ink expansion deals in the four BRIC nations, with a heady interest in Russia and China.
IMAX announced a pair of small deals with a pair of Russian exhibitors that will be new to the super-sized screen and amped-up sensory experience.
Kinomax will open three IMAX screens. The MORI Cinema will introduce a single IMAX experience. All four theaters should be open before the end of next year.
These two deals bring the total number of IMAX theaters contractually set to be open by 2014 to 45 screens.
Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have become IMAX's third-largest market outside of the United States and China. Of the 15 international screens that averaged more than $100,000 in ticket sales for Disney's (NYSE: DIS ) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, more than half of them were in Russia and CIS. In other words, IMAX's success in the former Soviet Union is shaking out new exhibitors that want to ride the trend favoring enhanced cinematic outings.
In an interview earlier this month, IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond pointed out how his company envisioned Russia as a potential market for just 30 screens a couple of years ago. Now we're looking at 45 screens, and we may still be early in the IMAX-ization of Russia.
Investors bellyaching about this year's decline in North American box office receipts may as well pack a passport. Instead of keying in on domestic exhibitors AMC, Regal (NYSE: RGC ) , and Carmike (Nasdaq: CKEC ) , consider Cinemark (Nasdaq: CNK ) for its 137 Latin American multiplexes and IMAX for its growing number of overseas installations.
IMAX is doing just fine domestically, too, but if you fail to assess what's cooking abroad, you're not getting the big picture about IMAX's big picture.
Is an IMAX or 3-D screening worth the premium? Please share your perspective in the comment box below.