How IMAX keeps reeling in the big bucks

The company is so popular, even Tom Cruise can’t get in on the action.

The real “mission impossible” is getting Mission: Impossible onto bigger screens.


The situation: Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One opens July 12. Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer blasts into theaters July 21.

Oppenheimer has an agreement to play on every IMAX screen in North America for three weeks upon release — meaning the Cruise camp only has IMAX screens for about a week, which will likely impact the movie’s bottom line.

The big picture

In case it wasn’t clear, IMAX screens reel in eye-poppin’ profits. Per Variety, Sony’s latest Spider-Man film earned an average of $34.2k per IMAX screen throughout its opening weekend, versus $19.7k on standard screens.

  • Last year, Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick earned $100m+ from IMAX alone.

While movie attendance is still down 33% from 2019, per Variety, demand for IMAX-style moviegoing is booming. Globally, IMAX accounted for ~1% of screens showing Avatar: The Way of Water, but generated 11.3%, or $250m, of the film’s box office sales.

Though IMAX saw revenues plunge throughout the pandemic, the company projects ~$1.1B in global box office sales this year, returning to 2019 levels.

Rewinding the tape: IMAX has come a long way since 1994, when current CEO Richard Gelfond took over. For an interesting look into how the company swapped business models and cut costs, check out Gelfond’s take here.

Topics: Movies

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