Monday, July 20, 2009

LIMAX: What the theaters don't want you to know.

The two new things in movie going today is 3-D and IMAX. Today I will be talking about the latter.

IMAX is a format that has been around for awhile now. Films that come out in the format are usually documentaries because of it's ability to magnify the subject matter to a gigantic degree. What an IMAX screen generally is is a 70 MM film print (the widest film possible) flipped on it's axis so it's as tall as a screen is wide. So the experience is an immersive one. Lately, blockbusters have been released in IMAX. The latest releases have been Transformers 2 and the new Harry Potter film. IMAX has been making a lot of money off of these blockbusters and is expanding their theaters as quickly as possible. Except there is one problem with these new screens: It's not IMAX.

What IMAX is doing is installing screens in multiplexes. This is intrinsically impossible, for no multiplex has the capability of adding a screen of such gargantuan proportions. So, they improvise. For example, at Lincoln Square Cinemas in Bellevue, the IMAX screen there is 40X65 Feet. A standard IMAX screen is 76X97 feet. So Lincoln Square clearly falls short here. Nonetheless, the theater is still charging a four dollar surcharge. The most ironic part about this is that you can get the size of the Lincoln Square IMAX at another conventional theater: The Seattle Cinerama. Granted, the Cinerama is a giant theater to begin with. But the point of an IMAX is to be huge. And if it's the size of the Cinerama, then to call it an IMAX is an insult to its audience.

The numbers don't lie. The width of the Lincoln Square IMAX is 65 ft. The width of the Cinerama conventional theater screen is 65 ft. Save your money, if you want to see a BIG movie, go to the Seattle Center IMAX where it's the original dimensions of an IMAX, or just see it at the Cinerama.

If you think I'm a doofus, I'm not alone. See what famed critic Roger Ebert says here

(DISCLAIMER: Lincoln Square is still an awesome theater with 15 digital screens projecting film at 4k high definition. You will not get a better film experience anywhere else but there. However, its IMAX along with other newly installed IMAX theaters is a joke, and I feel the need to inform others of its, ahem, shortcomings.)