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IMAX Growth Just Another Day at the Movies: CEO

Lone drink and candy in empty theater
Heath Korvola | Digital Vision | Getty Images

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" was the biggest-grossing film of the July 4 holiday weekend in the U.S., but to IMAX Chief Executive Richard Gelfond it was just another 3D movie.

The movie earned the company $87,000 a screen in the U.S. and $75,000 per screen internationally, he told CNBC Tuesday. IMAX's huge screens and other movie-viewing technology are currently in 50 countries.

"We at IMAX have been doing 3D for 20 years," Gelfond said. "So when they came into the mainstream we weren’t as excited as everyone else because we’d seen good 3D films and we’d seen bad 3D films. 3D doesn’t take a bad film and turn it into a good film."

Making Money in IMAX

The CEO said the company's network of theaters have had 30 percent compound annual growth thanks, in part, to revenue from movie studios and movie exhibitors.

"Most of the screens put in now are joint ventures where we get a percentage of box office," Gelfond said. "So we give the exhibitors the technology, they show the film and we share the box office."

In addition, he said, several movies, including the fourth "Mission Impossible" film with Tom Cruise, have been filmed, at least in part, using IMAX cameras, with those larger IMAX theater screens in mind.

Gelfond said the percentage of films shot in 3D has been lower this year but that will not affect IMAX. "We're in the movie business," he said. "So whether it's 2D or 3D, people come to IMAX to see blockbusters."

The next movie coming to IMAX theaters, on July 15, is "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2," for which Gelfond has "fairly high expectations."

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