Imax in Talks to Return ‘Avatar’ to Cinemas, CEO Says

Imax Corp., the operator of giant-screen movie houses, is in talks with News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox to bring “Avatar” back to theaters after its initial cinema run, according to Chief Executive Officer Richard Gelfond.

The film, which could return with some of the 40 minutes that director James Cameron cut from the movie, would tap unmet demand for the 3-D feature, Gelfond said today at a Gabelli Asset Management Inc. presentation for investors in New York.

A second release of “Avatar” depends on Fox’s willingness to promote the movie and the availability of Imax theaters, Gelfond said. “Avatar,” still in its initial theatrical run, is the top-grossing film of all time with $2.6 billion in worldwide sales, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.

Theater owners are juggling 3-D screens to accommodate “Avatar” and Walt Disney Co.’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which opened as last weekend’s top film in the U.S. and Canada with ticket sales of $116.1 million. Space gets tighter in a few weeks. DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. releases “How to Train Your Dragon” on March 26, and Time Warner Inc. comes out with “Clash of the Titans” on April 2.

Fox has made no decisions about re-releasing “Avatar,” said Gregg Brilliant, a spokesman. The studio is exploring ways in which it might release additional footage, he said.

“Avatar,” written and directed by Cameron, tells the story of an indigenous civilization forced to defend its planet against invaders from Earth.

Imax, based in Mississauga, Ontario, fell 16 cents to $15.86 at 4 p.m. New York Time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have gained 19 percent this year.

Imax today reported fourth-quarter net income of $4.04 million, or 6 cents a share, compared with a loss of $9.04 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier. Sales almost doubled to $54.2 million from $27.4 million, the company said.

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