BEIJING Nov 1 China's newly minted rich can now
get up close and personal to the movies after mega-screen maker
IMAX Corp signed a deal to produce luxury home theatres
in the company's second largest market.
The fifty-fifty joint venture with Shenzhen-based TCL
Multimedia Technology Holdings Ltd will give Chinese
the chance to watch IMAX-enhanced Hollywood blockbusters in the
comfort of their homes, maybe even on the day of their world
The price? At least $250,000. The joint venture is targeting
wealthy homeowners in Hong Kong, Russia, and the Middle East,
but the main focus, IMAX Chief Executive Richard Gelfond said,
"China now is our second largest market in the world, and
our fastest growing market," Gelfond told Reuters on Friday. "We
spend a lot of time concentrating on the Chinese market."
IMAX earns 16 percent of its revenue in China, and now has
131 screens installed there.
Like other global brands, IMAX is betting on the appetite of
ultra-rich Chinese for luxury goods and unique experiences,
which is also helping the sales of retailers like LVMH
and Tiffany & Co.
The number of Chinese millionaires rose by more than 14
percent last year to 643,000, the most recent wealth survey by
Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management shows. The country is now
home to the fourth largest number of high net-worth individuals
in the world.
Neither IMAX nor TCL Multimedia Chief Financial Officer
Edmond Chen would forecast how many home systems the company
expects to sell when it kicks of production in 2015. The deal
was signed this week.
TCL estimates annual growth for home theatre sets is likely
to exceed 20 percent in the next five years. It said the market
for home theatres may be about 2,000 sets now.
In July, IMAX announced an agreement with local conglomerate
Dalian Wanda Group Corp to build up to 120 new theaters in
China. The deal would raise the number of IMAX theaters to about
400, with Wanda running around half.
Gelfond in September helped Dalian Wanda launch a $8 billion
production, entertainment and real estate project in the coastal
city of Qingdao, surrounded by stars including Nicole Kidman and