Does Your Local Cinema Have IMAX or Just IMAX Lite?


I can admit this here, and only thousands of people will judge me, but: I’m a sort of a nerd. I was really excited when the Regal Cinema at my local mall started knocking down walls to put in an IMAX theater. And none of this documentary-with-swooping-cameras motion sickness crap you get at the museum IMAX theaters, either—they were showing actual cinematic releases. Like “Star Trek.” And “The Dark Knight.” Also, “Star Trek.”

It was with some dismay that I read comedian Aziz Ansari’s rant about the new IMAX theaters sprouting all over the country. The theaters have nice digital projection and sound and slightly bigger screens, but aren’t true IMAX theaters. Aziz was NOT amused by this.

See the illustration above for the size difference between a standard IMAX theater and the new IMAX theaters sprouting in regular malls. It’s impressive.

Aziz wrote,

Some people at Regal and AMC both wanted to call these screens IMAX Digital so as to differentiate it somehow from the giant IMAX screens people are used to associating with the name IMAX. Apparently IMAX doesn’t see anything wrong with duping customers like this and insisted on simply keeping it as IMAX. Well, I have a better term how about – “BULLSHIT IMAX.” Cause that’s what it is.

People in the field have been talking about this for a while, but it’s the recent high-profile releases that have packed theaters, IMAX and IMAX lite alike, and got people talking about this. LF Examiner, a large format movie industry journal, addressed the issue in an article by editor James Hyder, published in October of last year.

In more than 24 years in the business, I have personally been in 132 giant-screen theaters of all brands, formats, and sizes, including four MPX (15/70 film) theaters and five IMAX digital screens. I may be jaded, but none of those nine coaxed even a faint “wow” from my lips, because all were merely ordinary multiplex houses that had been modified slightly. The seating rake was unchanged and nowhere near the 20–25-degree angle that is standard in purpose-built IMAX theaters. The room’s depth, from the screen to the last row, may have been reduced slightly by moving the screen forward and removing a few rows of seats. But most were still significantly deeper than the width of the screen, thus providing the audience a narrower (i.e., less immersive) average field of view.

Hyder’s article was also the source of the illustration for this post. (Here’s a bigger version, since this post is all about screen size.) The interesting thing about this is that it’s not the theater operators’ choice not to differentiate between the larger and smaller IMAX systems; it’s IMAX’s. You know, the company that used to use the slogan “Think big.” They meant well, at least, not wanting to imply that the smaller theaters were inferior. Except for how they sort of are.

So, what can the average movie consumer do? Find out the screen size at your local IMAX theater before shelling out an extra $5. Complain to the theater operator and to IMAX, if it is the smaller IMAX Digital system, and you feel so inclined.

Is IMAX the next “New Coke”? [LF Examiner]
REBLOG THE FUCK OUT OF THIS. WARNING: AMC theaters are running FAKE IMAX’s and charging $5 extra for a slightly bigger screen. Boycott IMAX, AMC, and Regal. Don’t let them fool you. [Aziz is Bored]

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