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Esports may be coming to IMAX screens

IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond is interested in “expanding beyond blockbusters.”

“There’s an incredible interest in destination entertainment. You see that with concerts, you see that with esports, you see that with blockbusters,” said Gelfond in an interview with Yahoo Finance’s On the Move.

This could be a reaction to the rise of social media, he posited, and the desire for in-person shared experiences. “People don’t just want to sit in their homes and chain themselves to their desk,” he said.

“We’re looking for other experiences besides movies that would fit the bill,” said Gelfond. “IMAX has 520,000 seats for any one show worldwide in 80 countries, and if we could capture some of the non-blockbuster time, I think this could just be the beginning of where IMAX could go,” he said, referring to periods of time when there aren’t blockbuster movie releases like “Avengers: Endgame.” He hinted that esports would be a potential area of expansion.

In response to a comment about watching a “Call of Duty” match on the big screen, Gelfond said, “or even to play one — to play one against another theater.”

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23: IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond makes opening remarks during the IMAX private screening for the movie: "Avengers: Endgame" at the IMAX AMC Theatre on April 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images for IMAX)

That said, blockbusters have been very good for IMAX. The company rode on the cape-tails of “Avengers: Endgame” to a record opening-weekend gross of $91.5 million globally on IMAX screens. And Gelfond predicts that the blockbuster momentum will continue beyond this year with a 4efull slate of films like “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” which is due out for release later this year, and other hit movies well into 2020.

In addition to the fees from theaters that show movies in IMAX format, the company generates revenue from features shot using IMAX-enabled cameras, which were also used for “Avengers: Endgame.”

Julie Hyman is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance On the Move.