TORONTO - Imax Corp. has a new way to deliver digitally-remastered Hollywood movies to institutional and dome theaters.
The large format exhibitor on Monday said it secured the exclusive rights to a range of laser projection patents from Eastman Kodak Company to improve its digital cinema offering.
Toronto-based Imax said it acquired around 50 patent families to deliver digital content, including supers-sized Hollywood films, to 80 to 100 feet institutional theater screens and to dome theatres that previously screened only analog film.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Imax is to return royalties to Kodak as part of the agreement.
The new laser-projection technology will be rolled out by the second half of 2013.
"Because this technology produces the deepest blacks, and the brightest 3D of any system demonstrated to date, it will truly make the movies more exciting for consumers, and that creates a strong value proposition for the studios and exhibitors as well,” Kim Snyder, president of entertainment imaging and vp of Eastman Kodak Company, said in a statement.
Many investors think so this morning; RealD shares are down more than 7.7% in early trading. There’s no immediate danger: RealD has a few years left on its exclusive deals with major theater owners to supply their 3D-projection technology. Still, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield warns today that over time “IMAX could utilize/license the Kodak technology to offer a superior 2D/3D projection system for traditional (non-IMAX) movie theaters worldwide.” For now, IMAX says it just plans to use the Kodak technology to improve images for its films on screens larger than 80 feet and in dome theaters beginning in late 2013. The company has been working with tech company Laser Light Engines to develop a similar projection process. But IMAX says that Kodak’s will “consume less power, last longer and have a wider color gamut.” Blending its current work with Kodak’s patents “puts us at the forefront of laser-based projection,” IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond says. The companies didn’t disclose how much IMAX will pay to license the patents from Kodak, which is struggling to shift its focus from cameras to printing. Kodak shares are up 6.5% so far today, while IMAX is down 3.1%. Still, with Kodak so desperate for cash, Greenfield wants RealD to explain “why did they not license/acquire the Kodak technology themselves”?