IMAX has announced an agreement to release five current and upcoming films from Japanese distributor and production company TOHO in IMAX theaters. The move substantially expands the two companies’ longtime partnership and marks IMAX’s largest slate deal with a studio outside of Hollywood to date.
The first film released under the agreement was the TOHO/Aniplex blockbuster Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train, which had a monster $44 million opening in Japan last weekend, including $2.3 million from 38 IMAX screens, breaking the all-time IMAX opening weekend record despite capacity restrictions in theaters.
Forthcoming films to be released under the deal includes STAND BY ME Doraemon 2, which is slated for release on Nov. 20. Three more films have yet to be announced. The agreement runs at least through 2021.
“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 TOHO president Yoshishige Shimatani. “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,” added IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond. “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 builds on the distribution partnership between IMAX and TOHO that has seen such TOHO films as 2016’s Shin-Godzilla and 2019’s Weathering With You released on IMAX screens in the country. Those films grossed $5.7 million and $7.7 million, respectively.
In addition, under a previous agreement TOHO’s exhibition arm TOHO Cinemas has partnered with IMAX to jointly open a total of eight TOHO Cinemas IMAX theaters in Japan to date.
Last year, IMAX set a new annual record at the Japanese box office with $62 million, with major assists from Weathering With You and Bohemian Rhapsody, which became IMAX’s highest-grossing release ever in Japan with $14 million. This year, IMAX accounted for 27% of the opening weekend box office for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet in the country.