The robots are coming. Again. Viacom's
You may be left scratching your head, since IMAX typically rolls with releases that coincide with their multiplex openings in its jacked-up conversions. IMAX also has a tendency to go with Time Warner
So what's going on here? Well, it all started with a delay in the release of a Rolling Stones concert flick that was supposed to hit IMAX this month. Martin Scorsese's Shine a Light is a documentary that uses the legendary rock band's most recent tour to chronicle its career.
Then, quicker than you can say "I can't get no satisfaction," the rockumentary's release got bumped from this fall to next April. That left IMAX scrambling to find a box-office replacement to fill the gap. Transformers is a natural. It packs the visceral Michael Bay wallop that plays so well on the gargantuan IMAX screens with crisp resolution and state-of-the-art sound systems.
IMAX also doesn't have to bank on the movie being a hit. Having moved $312 million in domestic box-office ticket sales (and a whopping $693 million worldwide), it's already the year's third-highest-grossing film. That will spare IMAX the embarrassment of backing what turns out to be a cinematic dud, such as last year's The Ant Bully and Poseidon.
The challenge here -- as well as the opportunity -- lies in convincing folks that a movie that has long since ended its tenure at first-run theaters bears watching again on an IMAX screen. After all, the film will be out on DVD next month.
In other words, it's unlikely to be a major draw. No one is expecting it to be a hit this time around. We're also now in late September, when even the first-run studio flicks have anemic expectations.
But what if this is somehow a hit for IMAX? What if studios can milk a little incremental box-office action by re-releasing flicks on IMAX? The remastering and marketing costs may very well be offset by the pre-DVD release buzz it would generate. So even if no one is watching Transformers this weekend, it's easy to see why a lot of people are watching the lack of people watching.
This can change the very dynamics of celluloid distribution if it works. And like General Motors
Screen these other IMAX feature presentations:
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a movie buff, but he does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. 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.