April 16, 2009 / 8:23 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 1-Imax not feeling recession pain at box office -CEO

* Imax box office holding up in recession -CEO

* CEO says Imax looking at platforms for future products (In U.S. dollars)

By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO, April 16 (Reuters) - The recession is not damaging the box-office performance of giant-screen movie-theater company Imax Corp IMAX.OIMX.TO, its chief executive said on Thursday.

“It seems that consumers are willing to pay a premium price for a premium experience, even in this environment,” Richard Gelfond told Reuters in an interview. “I would be surprised to see the economic factors affect our box office unless (the environment) materially worsens.”

Despite the recession, movie ticket sales are showing growth according to numerous industry estimates, as cost-conscious consumers view movie-going as a cheap form of entertainment.

This has benefited Imax, as well as the movie-theater chain operators that make up its client base.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, Imax lost about $9 million, compared with a loss of $10.1 million a year earlier. This year’s loss included costs related to the Toronto-based company’s launch of its digital projector technology.

The company has also moved from simple one-time sales of its theater systems to exhibitors to a joint-venture model, in which it receives ongoing revenue.

Gelfond declined to discuss specifics, but said the reception of the digital technology among exhibitors has been good.

That’s in part due to the fact that a digital system is less costly since it doesn’t require physical prints of films to operate. “That’s a game changer,” Gelfond said. (Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Peter Galloway)

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