The Chinese TV-set manufacturer that bought the naming rights to the venerable Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood is partnering with Canadian big-screen company
TCL Multimedia Technology, part of China-based multinational TCL Group, announced a joint venture with Imax to develop and manufacture a 4K home theater system that will incorporate Imax's projection and sound technology.
The companies expect to launch the new system in China and select other markets in 2015.
The partnership marks the latest effort by Imax to expand its business in China, where the company has rapidly increased its theater network, and to further Imax's foray into the home theater business.
On Monday, the Imax announced it was buying a stake in Prima Cinema, a San Diego-area based provider of home theater systems that allows consumers to watch movies in their homes when they are released in theaters.
Imax recently launched its own line of ultra-high-end home theaters priced at $2.5 million.
"Our recent introduction of the cinema-grade Imax Private Theatre, the partnership with Prima and, now, our joint venture with TCL, are all part of our carefully designed effort to expand the Imax brand to additional platforms,'' Imax CEO Richard L. Gelfond said in a statement.
"As one of the fastest-growing and most innovative players in the global entertainment technology marketplace, with a strong expertise in display and manufacturing, TCL is an ideal partner to help us change the way people around the world experience their favorite content in the home environment," Gelfond added.
For TCL, one of the largest consumer electronics groups in the world, the partnership further cements its ties to Hollywood. In January, the company paid $5 million for the right to put its name on the former Grauman's Chinese Theatre, where Imax recently installed a giant screen.
"As content viewing in the home is constantly improving, we wanted to stake out an entirely new position in the premium home theater market," said TCL Chairman Li Dongsheng. "There is no company better equipped and more knowledgeable than Imax to deliver that premium experience. Together, we plan to leverage the complementary assets of our companies to create a high-quality, end-to-end home theater solution."
The parties' 50/50 joint venture will initially operate in Hong Kong and mainland China and include research and development, sales, marketing and manufacturing, and feature Imax-enhanced, current theatrical content delivered to the home through Prima Cinemas' secure transmission system.
The joint venture's board will consist of representatives from both companies, with Imax Chief Business Development Officer Robert D. Lister serving as chairman.
TCL sells LCD TVs, mobile phones and household appliances and has 40 sales offices and about 70,000 employees worldwide. It posted sales of $11.2 billion and sold 10.9 million LCD TV sets in 2012.
Based in Toronto, Imax has 785 theaters in 55 countries with officers in New York, L.A., London, Tokyo and Shanghai.