Imax Corp. has signed a multi-year deal with Dolphin Entertainment to co-finance, develop and produce a slate of feature-length documentaries in the wide-screen cinema format.
The agreement will kick off with The Blue Angels, the documentary from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and Zipper Bros Films on the legendary U.S. Navy and Marine Corp. aerial demonstration squadron. The project, directed by Paul Crowder, is currently being shot and is expected to hit Imax screens next year. The film centers on the latest class of pilots entering the Blue Angels program, as well as “sharing the emotional stories of the veterans on the team who, this year, will take their final flights. It will mark the first time the iconic blue and yellow F/A-18 Super Hornets will be featured in Imax,” the companies said in a statement.
Imax unveiled the deal in Cannes, where it has just opened a wide-screen theater outside the city in the recently-completed Cineum complex, the first-ever multiplex in the legendary French cinema town. The company kicked off the festival with an official festival screening of Top Gun: Maverick, which shot on Imax cameras. The Tom Cruise actioner had a spectacular red carpet premiere in Cannes on Wednesday, which even featured a fly-by from a squadron of French fighter jets.
It is still unclear whether Top Gun will get a release in China, the country with the largest number of Imax cinemas, but, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Imax CEO Richard Gelfond was bullish about the company’s prospects, noting that the company’s last quarter “was the most successful in our history” despite the Chinese market being largely shut down due to COVID, as major Hollywood tentpoles — including The Batman and Spider-Man: No Way Home — increasingly use the giant-screen format to eventize blockbusters and amid a greater move towards “the premium market” in Europe.
“That’s more than made up for China,” Gelfond noted. “And I think the news that Jurassic World Dominion will go out day-and-date in China on June 10 is a sign that [the government] expects things to be back to normal by the summer.”
The Jurassic movies are immensely popular in China — with the 2015 reboot Jurassic World grossing $229 million, and 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom earning $261 million (both historic rates). Imax will also have Chinese releases of The Batman and Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron’s sequel to his 2009 monster hit.