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Bollywood films may turn to IMAX format


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A technology revolution may sweep India if plans to convert Bollywood films into the IMAX format succeeds.

Canada-based IMAX Corporation, one of the world's leading entertainment technology companies, feels this would be possible in three to four years.

"Eventually, Bollywood films will be converted into IMAX format. It can happen in three to four years," said Richard L. Gelfond, co-CEO and co-chairman of IMAX Corporation.

"But India needs at least 20 IMAX theatres to justify converting films to IMAX format," he said.

Gelfond said the company had already started talks on the subject with some film producers.

India, which presently has only three IMAX theatres, will add seven more by 2008, he announced Friday.

Gelfond said he was impressed by India as the largest film producer, the strong tradition of going to watch films, the rapid growth of film exhibitions in the country and the popularity of films among the masses.

The IMAX theatres in India and other countries presently screen Hollywood films either converted from 35mm to IMAX format or those produced with special IMAX equipment.

He said though Japan had as many as 20 IMAX theatres, it was hard to look for converting local films into IMAX formats in countries other than in India.

Gelfond said converting a 35mm film into IMAX format costs Rs.175 million ($4 million). "In India this can be done in $2.5 to $3 million."

"Considering the huge costs involved, we can convert only few blockbusters," he said.

Gelfond was here Friday to witness the release of "The Polar Express: an IMAX 3D Experience", the first Hollywood feature film converted to IMAX 3D.

There are 235 IMAX theatres in 35 countries. The company recently signed a deal for first IMAX theatre in Pakistan. The theatre will open in Lahore next September.


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