May 10, 2021—It is with profound sadness we share that IMAX co-founder and iconic
filmmaker Ivan Graeme Ferguson, 91, died from cancer on May 8, 2021, at
Norway Point, his home at Lake of Bays, Ontario, just eight weeks after the death of his beloved wife, Phyllis.
His final days of palliative care at home were overseen by his
daughter, Allison. His son, Munro, and his grandchildren played an
important part in Graeme’s last weeks, which ended surrounded by love,
so peacefully, after an extraordinary life. A private cremation will
take place locally, and Graeme and Phyllis will be interred at St.
Andrew’s Catholic Cemetery in Thunder Bay at a later date.

Toronto native Graeme Ferguson was the driving artistic force behind IMAX. For
Expo ’67 in Montreal, Ferguson directed the multi-screen,
multi-projector film Polar Life, which viewers watched while
seated on a central rotating turntable in the middle of 11 screens. The
film was so successful that Ferguson, along with fellow filmmaker Roman
Kroitor, had the idea of creating a movie theater with a similar
immersive experience but with a single giant screen using only one
projector. To achieve that, Ferguson and Kroitor recruited high school
friend and businessman Robert Kerr, and engineer William Shaw, also a
high school friend, to develop the camera, projection system, and
theater configuration. Their IMAX (Maximum Image) system debuted at Expo
’70 in Osaka, Japan, with the first-ever IMAX film, Tiger Child.
With a 15 perf/70mm film frame that was nearly 10 times larger than
conventional 35mm film, the bright, clear, steady, and giant images
resulted in a revolutionary immersive theater experience.

Ferguson continued to make giant screen films throughout his career as director,
producer, writer, and cinematographer, and his films have been seen by
millions of people around the world. He was instrumental in getting IMAX
cameras into space and fueling the dreams of would-be astronauts. Susan
Helms credits the film The Dream Is Alive for inspiring her to become an astronaut, and she appears in the IMAX documentary Space Station 3D.

Ferguson’s IMAX filmography includes Tiger Child (1970), North of Superior (1971), Circus World (1974), Man Belongs to Earth (1974), Snow Job (1974), Ocean (1977), Hail Columbia! (1982), The Dream Is Alive (1985), Blue Planet (1990), Journey to the Planets (1993), Into the Deep (1994), Destiny in Space (1994), L5: First City in Space (1996), Mission to Mir (1997), Space Station 3D (2002), Deep Sea 3D (2006), Under the Sea 3D (2009), Hubble 3D (2010), and A Beautiful Planet (2016).

In 2016, GSCA presented Graeme Ferguson with its inaugural Outstanding Achievement Award.

We send our sincere condolences to his family and legions of friends and
colleagues. If you would like to share anything to include in a tribute
we will be posting later this week, please send it to