Big Imax Victim Of Little Ant
The summer glut of animated family films had a crushing impact on giant-screen exhibitor IMAX, which grossed only $7.1 million from Warner Bros.' The Ant Bully during the third quarter. IMAX had converted the entire film into 3-D, but, because of a disappointing opening in conventional theaters, rolled out Bully into only a relatively small number of its own theaters capable of exhibiting the film in 3-D. It elected to keep Superman Returns in the remainder. (Only a few scenes in Superman were remastered in 3-D, which nevertheless earned $30.8 million in IMAX theaters.) Tickets to IMAX films are sold at a premium, and analysts indicated that by the time The Ant Bully was released on July 28, family heads had concluded that they had spent enough on movies for the season. IMAX reported a $12-million net loss for the quarter, down from a $2.3 million profit in the comparable quarter a year ago. Daily Variety reported today (Thursday) that the company is working on a digital exhibition system that could significantly cut the costs of IMAX prints from the current $30,000 each.