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IMAX Just Spent $21M On An Eyebrow-Raising Acquisition

As far as going to the theaters, there's nothing quite like watching films in IMAX. The high video and audio quality can bring out the absolute best in a movie and make the biggest blockbusters seem like an epic out-of-this-world experience. And both modern and veteran directors have seen the advantages of either shooting their films with IMAX cameras or presenting some of their legendary work to new audiences in IMAX theaters. Jordan Peele decided to take advantage of the IMAX cameras for "Nope," which granted the movie the distinct honor of being the first horror film to use the equipment (via Variety). Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg recently rewarded audiences by bringing some of his classics like "Jaws" and "E.T." to IMAX for the first time.

While IMAX can be worthwhile in the theaters, the fact is that viewers are also in the middle of a massive streaming boom. From the comfort of home, there are plenty of viewing options from juggernauts like Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Disney+, and Netflix, and the competition among these streaming services will only continue to heat up as they willingly spend big money for potentially successful projects. IMAX has tried to participate in the streaming boom, notably through the IMAX Enhanced feature on Disney+ for select movies. But its latest $21 million eyebrow-raising acquisition will make the company a much more significant player in streaming.

IMAX bought a streaming video tech start-up for $21 million

According to The Hollywood Reporter, IMAX bought streaming tech company SSIMWAVE to the tune of $18.5 million in cash and $2.5 million in stock, with a possible additional $4 million if operating goals are met. It's a staggering amount of money, but it could make IMAX extremely profitable in the streaming industry. SSIMWAVE uses artificial intelligence and research to provide streaming services with the best audio and video possible on each device.

IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond noted that buying the Canadian start-up will allow the company to offer the highest-quality experience while still being cost-effective. In addition, the use of SSIMWAVE's streaming tech will be a massive benefit to directors. "Filmmakers will be really happy about this acquisition because we're going to help make sure that when their content is released on alternative platforms, it's going to be in the best way possible," Gelfond said.

The acquisition of SSIMWAVE is an excellent strategic move since the start-up already partners with Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, and NBCUniversal. It's hard not to imagine that other companies like Amazon and Netflix are keeping a close eye on this business move from IMAX and what SSIMWAVE's technology can do.