Imax to Release 4 Paramount Films in 2011

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Imax ( IMAX) announced it has entered into an exclusive agreement with Viacom's ( VIA) Paramount Pictures to release four of the studio's biggest films in 2011.

The films Super 8, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn will open in Imax theaters around the world.

Sony ( SNE) Pictures will handle most of the movie distribution and marketing overseas.

As 3D films gain traction in the movie industry, Paramount Pictures Vice Chairman Rob Moore says that consumer demand for the "Imax experience" will continue to grow.

"Coupled with the rising popularity of the Imax brand, the growing number of Imax screens and the increased interest from our top filmmakers to have their movies offered in this format, Imax is and continues to be a key part of our release strategy," Moore said in a statement.

Transformers and The Adventures of Tintin will be digitally formatted for presentation in Imax 3D.

Analysts expect sequels and 3D releases to generate strong gains at the box office in 2011.

Analyst Barton Crockett of Lazard Capital projects there will be 39 3D movie releases in 2011, up from 24 in 2010. Total 3D box office revenues will increase 57.4% to $4.6 billion from $2.9 billion in 2010.

Average ticket prices grew 7.2% in 2010 from a 4.5% increase in 2009, due to an increased number of 3D movies.

"We see 3D surcharges rising to 11.4% of domestic box office in 2011, from 7.2% in 2010 and 3.9% in 2009," Crockett said in a Jan. 3 research note.

Imax CEO Richard Gelfond believes that with the four titles from Paramount, Imax's 2011 lineup is "on its way to becoming the most robust slate" the company has ever had.

"Our growing worldwide network will enable even more movie fans to experience their favorite films in the best possible way," Gelfond said.

Viacom closed at $47.29 on Tuesday while Imax shares were up more than 2% in premarket trading to around $27.40.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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