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Warner Bros. Pictures and IMAX's Polar Express a Run-Away Hit


Written by: IMAX Corporation
Date: November 16, 2004


Category: Press Releases

Biggest Opening Weekend for Hollywood Simultaneous Release

The First-Ever Hollywood Feature Film in IMAX® 3D Opens to Sold Out Shows and Record Advanced Sales

NEW YORK, Nov. 16 -- THE POLAR EXPRESS: AN IMAX 3D EXPERIENCE, the first-ever Hollywood feature film converted to IMAX® 3D, set the record for the highest opening weekend for a Hollywood simultaneous release with just over $2.1 million in box office in IMAX® theatres. The announcement was made today by Warner Bros. Pictures and IMAX Corporation (Nasdaq:IMAX; TSX:IMX). In the first five days, the film grossed $3.0 million in 59 IMAX theatres in North America, with an impressive per screen average of $50,847.

IMAX theatres in all regions of the country reported sold out shows, very strong advanced sales and an outstanding response from audiences to the IMAX 3D format. Some highlights include:

  • National Amusements, which opened four new IMAX theatres timed to the film's release on November 10 (White Plains, NY; Buckland Hills, Connecticut; Louisville, Kentucky; Springdale, Ohio), experienced sold out shows in all of their IMAX Theatres as well as record group sales.

  • The new release Comcast IMAX 3D Theatre at Jordan's Furniture in Reading, Massachusetts, which also opened timed to the film's release, was the number one performing theatre in the entire IMAX network with an opening gross of $159,000.

  • The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre in Dearborn, Michigan reported sold out shows throughout the weekend, and every 10am and 12pm weekday shows through to the Christmas holidays have already sold out.

  • In New York, the Loews IMAX Theatre at Lincoln Square grossed $132,000 in the first five days, and all of the 10:30am weekday shows are sold out to school groups through the end of December.

  • The Navy Pier IMAX Theatre in Chicago, Illinois sold out every show throughout the weekend.

"We believe that this record-breaking opening weekend is a harbinger of good things to come. The audience response has been exceptional," said IMAX's Co-Chairman and Co-CEO's, Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler. "In fact, based on preliminary research conducted at select IMAX theatres nationwide, audiences are reporting an incredible 96% satisfaction rate and an equally impressive 93% intent to recommend response, which are the most positive results we've received for an IMAX digitally re-mastered film to date. This is translating into strong box office results and strong word of mouth, which bodes well for the legs of the film."

"The reaction to The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience has been nothing short of outstanding," said Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures. "The IMAX 3D element has brought in new audiences that may not have traditionally gone to see the film, and moreover, has drawn audiences in at a premium price for The IMAX Experience®. Based on the box office success thus far, we are confident that the film's momentum will continue throughout this year, and become a holiday classic in years to come."

"We are so pleased to share another record-breaking film -- our biggest one yet -- with Warner Bros. Pictures," said Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment. "The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience was the ideal first film to be converted into IMAX 3D because it represents a convergence of the perfect elements for IMAX's format. With Bob Zemeckis' visionary approach, combined with the talents of Tom Hanks and a wonderful story with wide family appeal, this film delivers everything that The IMAX Experience should be. We believe this is the future of moviegoing as we know it, and is just the beginning of what is to come from IMAX."

The Polar Express has undergone a process by which the conventional 2D, computer-generated film is converted into 3D and then digitally re-mastered into IMAX's larger than life format using IMAX DMR® technology. Once the IMAX DMR process is complete, the film format for The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience is 10 times larger than its original. With special IMAX 3D glasses, the movie appears to have depth beyond and in front of the screen -- adding to the already stunning visual clarity. When combined with the more than 12,000 watts of digital surround sound in IMAX theatres, moviegoers to The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience are guaranteed an immersive and extraordinary cinematic experience.

Castle Rock Entertainment presents, in association with Shangri-La Entertainment, a Playtone / ImageMovers / Golden Mean Production of a Robert Zemeckis Film: Tom Hanks in The Polar Express. Directed by Robert Zemeckis from a screenplay by Zemeckis & William Broyles, Jr., the film is produced by Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis, Gary Goetzman and William Teitler and is based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. Tom Hanks, Jack Rapke and Chris Van Allsburg are the executive producers.

The production team includes directors of photography Don Burgess, A.S.C. and Robert Presley; production designers Rick Carter and Doug Chiang; and editors Jeremiah O'Driscoll & R. Orlando Duenas. Senior visual effects supervisors are Ken Ralston and Jerome Chen. Co-producer is Steven Boyd. Music score is by Alan Silvestri, and original songs by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri.

The Polar Express will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company. Soundtrack album on Warner Sunset/Reprise Records. This film is rated G by the MPAA.

About IMAX Corporation

Founded in 1967, IMAX Corporation is one of the world's leading entertainment technology companies. IMAX's businesses include the creation and delivery of the world's best cinematic presentations using proprietary IMAX and IMAX 3D technology, and the development of the highest quality digital production and presentation. IMAX has developed revolutionary technology called IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) that makes it possible for virtually any 35mm film to be transformed into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience. The IMAX brand is recognized throughout the world for extraordinary and immersive family entertainment experiences. As of September 30, 2004, there were more than 235 IMAX theatres operating in 35 countries.

IMAX®, IMAX® 3D, IMAX DMR® and The IMAX Experience® are trademarks of IMAX Corporation. More information can be found at

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