TOHO and IMAX Announce Historic Five-Picture Slate Agreement in Japan

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Japan-based TOHO, a film, theater production, and distribution company, and Canadian-American entertainment technology company IMAX has announced a slate deal to release five current and forthcoming TOHO films on IMAX screens. The deal will expand both the companies’ longstanding partnership across distribution and exhibition. It also marks IMAX’s biggest slate deal to date with a film studio outside Hollywood. The terms of the deal shall run to at least 2021 and include three future films to be confirmed.

As of October, Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train-the number one movie with $2.3 million in IMAX from 38 screens-holds the all-time IMAX opening weekend box office record in Japan despite restricted seating capacity. Another film, STAND BY ME Doraemon 2 is scheduled to release on November 20.

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“We have been deepening our relationship with IMAX since 2016’s Shin-Godzilla release, and I am confident to say that our partnership has been further strengthened with the release of Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train released on Friday, October 16,” said Yoshishige Shimatani, President of TOHO. “Japanese movies continue evolving, and have achieved the quality suitable for IMAX theatres as seen in Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train and upcoming STAND BY ME Doraemon 2. We are very pleased to be able to provide our customers with new, exciting ways to experience our movies in IMAX through this slate deal.”

“IMAX and TOHO partnered to bring their first IMAX theatre to Japan in 2014, and we are honored to further our longstanding relationship with the company and its executives through this multi-picture film agreement,” said Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX. “Japan continues to grow as a successful market for IMAX, as local language hits like TOHO’s ‘Demon Slayer” deliver strong box office returns and offset the current lack of Hollywood films in the market.”

The agreement has been formed on the robust longstanding distribution partnership between IMAX and TOHO. Their history includes last year’s animated blockbuster title, “Weathering With You,” which was the highest-grossing Japanese language film in IMAX with an earning of $7.7 million. Both entertainment companies also partnered up in 2016’s ‘Shin-Godzilla,” which earned $5.7 million.

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Additionally, TOHO’s exhibition arm, TOHO Cinemas has already partnered with IMAX for years to offer interactive experiences to moviegoers, beginning when the two companies announced their first-ever IMAX theatre in Shinjuku, Tokyo in 2014. September also marks the opening of new IMAX TOHO Cinemas in Tachikawa, Tokyo, taking the total number of IMAX TOHO Cinemas in Japan to eight.

The entertainment industry has taken a huge hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has caused the movie industry the loss of over $5 billion. Major releases such as Marvel’s Black Widow, Mission Impossible, James Bond, amongst others have been postponed for a good time. While major players such as Disney have tried to released movies directly on its streaming service-Mulan-which led to a major loss. On the other side, the pandemic has led to the consumption of online media content to a great extent. New streaming platforms such as HBO MAX and Peacock have come to the surface because of the pandemic. 

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