Birmingham’s IMAX cinema is to close down and reopen under a new name as an independent venue offering new state-of-the-art digital technology.
Instead of being tied into IMAX products, the cinema at Millennium Point will show the biggest new releases and even special event broadcasts such as the Olympics, Wimbledon, theatre and opera.
The 385-seat cinema will cease trading as an IMAX screen on September 14, two weeks before its 10th birthday.
It is planned to reopen before October 22 in time to be able to screen Steven Spielberg’s latest film, The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn, which is released on October 26.
Leading electronics giants are currently tendering to provide a new digital projector and sound system for the venue.
The cinema opened with a 20-year IMAX deal, renewable annually after 10 years.
But whereas it had cost millions to hire the equipment and meet the licencing fees, the new system will require a one-off capital investment of less than £400,000.
And, as long as the screen remains at least 70ft wide, it can still be labelled a giant screen.
Sally Garner, commercial executive for Thinktank and IMAX Cinema, said: “Nobody has fallen out, but the cinema has to stand alone and be profitable.
“Under IMAX, the only year we made money was in 2009 with Avatar.
“So we are now going to be a totally independent cinema – with the country’s biggest 4K digital projector. We will still be able to show science films which customers like but they might now be from Discovery or National Geographic.
“We are looking at new names and branding and welcome suggestions from the public.”
One of the consequences of the move will be no traditional Polar Express screenings this Christmas because the film is not available in a digital format.
The IMAX cinema closed in December 21, 2003 after original operators Cinegrand Birmingham Ltd lost £600,000 in 12 months, but was reopened three months later as an in-house Millennium Point venture.
Last year, Avatar sailed past The Dark Knight’s record, with virtually every performance selling out during a four-month run.
But until Transformers and Harry Potter opened during the summer, this year’s available product was poor with films including Mars Needs Moms.