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Wanda Film Expands Partnership With Imax

Wanda Film Expands Partnership With Imax

Wanda Film Expands Partnership With Imax

Imax Corporation and Wanda Film, China’s largest movie exhibitor, are deepening their longstanding partnership with a new deal to upgrade technology and collaborate on future events and experiences. Wanda Film is already Imax’s biggest exhibition partner in the world, with 381 Imax locations in operation across China — and another 19 already on the way. The deal was announced Tuesday, midway through the Shanghai International Film Festival.

The new deal builds on the relationship by committing Wanda to upgrade 61 of its top-performing locations to the giant screen company’s state-of-the-art “Imax with Laser technology,” including top-grossing locations in China’s tier-one cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. Additionally, Wanda Film will renew up to 37 existing Imax locations for another five years and, subject to mutual understanding between the partners, add up to 25 new Imax locations over the next three years.
The partners additionally agreed to explore “explore opportunities to collaborate on exclusive awe-inspiring content and experiences across documentaries, music, gaming, and sports.” Imax has previously partnered with Wanda’s film production and distribution arm, Wanda Pictures, on content creation, such as the 2021 blockbuster Detective Chinatown 3, which was filmed with Imax cameras.

“With a strong, balanced slate of Chinese and Hollywood blockbusters in the pipeline over the next several years, this landmark agreement with Wanda Film fortifies Imax’s position in China’s largest circuit at a time of immense opportunity,” said Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax. “By securing a renewed commitment from China’s largest exhibitor, Imax grows its lead as the dominant platform for immersive, cinematic entertainment in China.”

A highlight of China’s summer blockbuster season in 2024 is the big-budget spy thriller Decoded, which was filmed in Imax and is directed by Detective Chinatown filmmaker Chen Sicheng. Imax says its 2025 global film slate will feature a record 14 releases filmed for Imax, including a yet-to-be-announced Chinese tentpole during the lucrative Chinese New Year holiday.

“For years, based on our core commitment to elevating moviegoers’ viewing experience, Wanda Film has been a pioneer in adopting and promoting premium projection technology to create a state-of-the-art film viewing environment,” said Chen Zhixi, chair of Wanda Film. “We successfully ensured the long-term collaboration with Imax, a major partner. Alongside our joint efforts in upgrading moviegoing experience, we will work with Imax to enhance projection standards for a wide range of films, to allow even more moviegoers to discover the wonder and joy of the immersive experience in theaters.”

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The new pact is the first deal between the Wanda and Imax brands since Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, chairman of real estate conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, sold off his controlling stake in Wanda Film to the Tencent-backed media and entertainment company China Ruyi Holdings. The sale came as Dalian Wanda Group contends with a deepening real estate crisis in China and a longrunning liquidity crunch. A firm with multi-faceted entertainment ambitions, Ruri’s film investments have included recent comedy hit Post Truth and the Detective Chinatown franchise, as well as TV titles like Nirvana In Fire. 

Added Daniel Manwaring, CEO of Imax China: “Under the leadership of Ms. Chen, we’re grateful that Wanda Film is recommitting to Imax across its top-performing locations. We believe the strategic partnership between Ruyi and Tencent can open new doors for Wanda Film and IMAX to collaborate across blockbuster films as well as documentaries and events in music, gaming, and sports.”

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