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Audience members watch a movie through 3D glasses at a newly opened IMAX theatre on February 8, 2007 in Wuhan of Hubei Province, China.

China Photos/Getty Images

Giant movie screen maker Imax Corp. has signed deals to open seven more theatres in mainland China and two in Indonesia, underscoring the Asia region's importance to the company, the firm's chief executive said on Tuesday.

The new theatres in China will open as early as May next year.

"This brings us over 200 theatres that are either opened now or in backlog...Our growth in China is the fastest of anywhere in the world," said Richard Gelfond, Imax's chief executive, in a telephone interview with Reuters.

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Imax, which will have 85 screens in mainland China by the end of 2011, hopes to see the region contribute 25 percent to total revenue in about three years, Mr. Gelfond said in October.

Three of the new Chinese theatres will be opened with Sichuan Lumière Pavilions Company Limited and the other four with the China unit of Orange Sky Golden Harvest Entertainment .

Mr. Gelfond said the firm had also signed a deal with Cinema 21 to open two IMAX screens in Jakarta, the first of which will open in May next year.

Western film companies are flocking to China to ink deals that will hopefully bear fruit as the country's middle class swells and their demand for more sophisticated entertainment options increase.

Last month, local media reported that Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc, producer of hit movies such as Kung Fu Panda, is in talks to set up a joint venture studio in Shanghai as early as January next year to produce animation and design theme parks.

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