Imax To Wire Up To 200 Screens This Year For Live Events; Grosses $300K From ‘Kanye West: Donda Experience’

Imax CEO Rich Gelfold says the chain hopes to have 200 screens wired for live events by year end, up from 79 currently as it experiments with content beyond music, and with ticket pricing.

He spoke to Deadline after the company reported strong quarterly earnings and the day after a live stream of Kanye West’s Donda 2 event in Miami sold out in 47 of 60 Imax theaters, led by the 980-seat TCL in LA. With fans only given 48-hours notice, it grossed about $313,582 total for a per screen average of $5,226.

That follows a special event with Halsey (If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power) and screenings plus live Q&As of Macbeth, West Side Story and The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert as this become an increasing focus for the big-screen exhibitor.

Wiring theatres isn’t particularly expensive, Gelfond said, but requires Imax proprietary technology to ensure image quality and proper cables to accommodate bandwidth. “You can’t do the world in the snap of a finger,” he said, but is hoping to get to 200 screens by year end and build out another 500 or more “over time.” The events are also shot with Imax cameras.

The company will planning one major event and several smaller ones per quarter. Right now, the strategy is “somewhere between putting together comprehensive slate and testing ideas,” he said during a conference call. It gravitates to music but is exploring comedy and live sports and is also in talks about putting together a slate deal. It will experiment with ticket pricing on events. The Kanye most expensive tickets for the Kanye event were around $30, “with others priced more in-line with other Imax tickets.”

“There is a very large market out there [for events], our technology is very unique, and over time it will be a significant contributor to our company,” he said.

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