Television’s most epic series is headed for entertainment’s biggest screens. HBO and IMAX Corporation announced Tuesday that episodes of "Game of Thrones" will begin showing on select IMAX screens later this month.
The weeklong run, which begins Jan. 23, will feature the final two episodes of the show’s fourth season, as well as an exclusive trailer of the upcoming fifth season, which will begin airing in April. Both episodes have been remastered and optimized for the outsized screens.
“I think this is going to be the beginning of something that could be pretty permanent,” he added.
Both IMAX and HBO are staging this experiment on a typically fallow part of the calendar for IMAX. With summer blockbusters and Oscar bait in the rearview mirror, the January film-release schedule is normally populated with smaller, more modest films. The first official release listed on the IMAX docket is in April.
“I think it’s primarily a test,” explained Marla Backer, a senior research analyst at Ascendiant. “IMAX is trying to take what is otherwise a slow period at the box office and generate a little bit of sizzle. From the HBO side, it generally creates an aura around the content, which is what they want.”
IMAX will only show "Game of Thrones" on 150 screens, out of the more than 700 it owns and operates around the world. It has not announced which markets those screens are located in. Because of the limited run both in terms of screens and time, Contrino said, it's difficult to speculate on how much revenue HBO or IMAX stands to rake in from the experiment. “It’s hard to really gauge it,” he said. “I think it'll show what the potential is.”
But Contrino adds that if the run proves successful, he thinks the strategy could spread to movie theaters all over the country. "This just opens up a ton of possibilities," he said. "Imagine what 'Breaking Bad' would have done if they'd put it in theaters."
Though this marks the first time a television show will have an IMAX theatrical run, it is not the first time HBO has experimented with creating events for its beloved fantasy epic. Last spring, it sold out a 7,000-person advance screening at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Specific details are yet to be announced, but fans have already begun expressing excitement on social media.
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