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IMAX Rushes in Russia

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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.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Walt Disney and IMAX. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.  

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a movie buff, but he doesn't own shares in any of the stocks in this story, except for Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (4)

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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 June 28, 2011, at 12:14 PM, Gonzhouse wrote:

    It's good to see TMF gets the real story of IMAX. In an interview on June 13, CNBC showed an absolutely shocking lack of knowledge of IMAX

    Richard Gelfond (IMAX CEO) was nice enough to appear and found himself battling the little talking heads over the impact of less robust 3D ticket sales on IMAX. CNBC simply would not listen that IMAX is about the immersive experience and emerging markets growth, irrespective of whether 2D or 3D. If Gelfond could have crawled thru the screen I would understand if he had strangled the clowns. This was followed up by Variety published an article lately bemoaning the lack of IMAX growth in Europe, due to continuing economic malaise.

    WHO CARES: it's not about 3D or developed nations growth. By 2015, IMAX will have more screens in China than in the U.S. Add to that India and Russia playing catch-up to China and you have a growth. That's the story.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2011, at 5:00 PM, therealguru wrote:
  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2011, at 11:39 AM, Jayrozz wrote:

    Great Article about the expansion of ImAX and the posiblities of even further expansion. Some investors don't know that 2-d movies can also be seen in IMAX and its not just 3-d movies.

    I wrote a blog about the opening of CARS 2 internationally, and would it means for investors of IMAX and the future.

    Thanks for the article.


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