Entertainment

IMAX has highest-grossing year ever at global box office

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Key Points
  • IMAX saw its highest-grossing year in 2019, reaching $1.035 billion in box office sales.
  • 2019 is the second consecutive year IMAX has crossed the $1 billion threshold in total receipts.
  • IMAX broke its record sales in 22 countries and territories year to date, including China, India, Japan, France, Germany and more, the company said.
George Rose | Getty Images News | Getty Images

IMAX pulled in huge numbers at the big screen in 2019.

The entertainment technology company announced Thursday its highest-grossing year ever at the global box office with more than $1.035 billion in ticket sales worldwide.

The record-breaking performance outpaced its previous best of $1.032 billion in 2018 and is the second consecutive year it has crossed $1 billion in total box office receipts, the company said.

This comes as the industry as a whole suffered another month of weak movie ticket sales in November, adding to a 2019 box office performance that has been struggling to outpace 2018. Despite the success of blockbusters like "Avenger's: Endgame," "The Lion King" and "Toy Story 4", this year remains short of the $11.9 billion record set in 2018.

"In an entertainment landscape where people enjoy more choice than ever, demand for The IMAX Experience around the world has never been greater," said Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX, in a statement.

"Fans worldwide are increasingly seeking out immersive entertainment experiences and IMAX is uniquely positioned to deliver through our technology, scale, and powerful relationships with world-class creators."

IMAX currently has more than 1,500 theatre systems operating in 81 countries and territories.

Internationally the company saw record box office growth in 22 countries and territories including China, India, Japan, France, Germany and more.

Five of the top ten highest-grossing IMAX films in 2019 to date featured IMAX DNA technology, which has an expanded aspect ratio to deliver up to 26% more picture on screen.

In 2020, at least five blockbuster releases were filmed in IMAX — including "No Time to Die," "Wonder Woman: 1984," "Top Gun: Maverick," "Tenet" and "Detective Chinatown 3" — which will mark another new record for the company.

While ticket sales have been weak for the industry broadly speaking big movie franchises like Marvel have performed well. Disney, which owns both the Marvel and Star Wars franchises, has already topped $10 billion in global box office ticket sales in 2019, a new record.

In an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Alley," Gelfond weighed in on the increased competition from streaming services like Disney+, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

"If you look at any of the data, Netflix subscribers go the the movies more than non-Netflix subscribers," said Gelfond.

"When 'Stranger Things' opened, 'Spider-Man' opened and it was a record weekend, and when 'Game of Thrones' opened up, 'Endgame' opened and it was another record weekend."

With two weeks remaining in the year and this week's release of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," IMAX plans to build on its box office grosses for 2019.

Gelfond said he will "mourn the loss" of the iconic Star Wars franchise, but he is not concerned about its impact on future box office sales.

"The blockbuster business isn't going away," said Gelfond. "I've been doing this for 25 years, there's always another one."

IMAX shares, which have a market value of $1.4 billion, are up nearly 18% since the start of 2019.

VIDEO5:3005:30
Here are the top movies at the box office right now