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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Imax expansion plan for UK cinema
London's BFI Imax
The Imax in Waterloo has had a successful year
The UK could have up to 12 new Imax cinemas from next year, under a deal with a US cinema group.

The Imax Corporation has agreed terms with National Amusements to buy up to 12 of the large-screen systems, "predominantly in the United Kingdom".

Four additional Imax cinemas will be installed in the US in New York, Ohio, Connecticut and Kentucky.

Locations for the UK cinemas have not been announced, but the first is likely to arrive in 2005 or 2006.

Imax and National Amusements hope to open a total of 18 new Imax screens across the globe.

Optimistic outlook

National Amusements is the sixth largest cinema operator in the US and owns over 1,400 cinemas worldwide.

"The strong interest from National Amusements and other top multiplex theatre operators should help us attract even more digitally re-mastered Hollywood event films, which, in turn, can help us grow the Imax network around the world," said Imax's co-chairmen and chief executives, Richard L Gelfond and Bradley J Wechsier.

Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Harry Potter is currently playing at UK Imax cinemas

There are currently 240 Imax cinemas operating in 35 countries.

However, an Imax screen in Birmingham, based at the city's new Millennium Point development, closed at the end of 2003 after only two years.

Some of its screenings were seen by as few as four people.

Despite the closure, Imax said at the time they felt confident of the company's future, with a move away from educational content to more mainstream films.

The London screen at Waterloo became the most successful large-format venue in Europe to show the "stretched" version of The Matrix, its spokeswoman told BBC News Online.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is currently showing in UK Imax cinemas, and Spider-Man 2 opens on 27 August.

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