I was really fucking psyched when I heard that a 14-screen movie theater opening within walking distance of my apartment near Northgate was going to have an Imax screen. I've missed out on seeing Batman, Harry Potter and Star Trek at Imax because it's just such a pain in the ass to go to the Pacific Science Center. Now, I was going to have a giant, 72 foot screen practically in my backyard. Well, it turns out I don't have much to be excited about.
It appears that Imax has been shilling out its brand to movie theaters across the country, building smaller digitally equipped screens which are nothing like the massive 72-foot wall of movie at the Pacific Science Center. Comedian Aziz Ansari had a big blog freakout earlier this week over Imax's apparent false advertising after he was duped into paying an extra five bucks to see Star Trek on a normal-sized screen:
I went with a friend of mine to see Star Trek: The IMAX Experience at the AMC Theatre in Burbank today. I drove out of my way to see the film on the large IMAX screen and paid an extra $5 for the ticket, which felt worth it at the time.
HOWEVER, we get in the theatre and its just a slightly bigger than normal screen and NOT the usual standard huge 72 ft IMAX screen. I was very upset and apparently this problem is happening all over at Regal and AMC theatres. Here’s a graphic representation of what’s happening at these “FAKE IMAX” screens:
Last month, Roger Ebert also chimed in on the "fake Imax" phenomenon:
It is ironic that IMAX, a company founded to provide a top-quality alternative to standard projection, has lowered its traditional standards and the value of its famous name. A true IMAX film is in 70mm, and is seen on a vast 72' x 53' screen, with all stadium seating. Now theaters advertised as IMAX are occupying modified multiplexes, where their standard screen has been only somewhat enlarged and the projection is digital. To charge extra for this IMAX experience is false advertising. A true IMAX theater is still a great place to see films such as "The Dark Knight." If the IMAX theater you're considering has opened somewhat recently, check it out carefully.
Imax is, of course, defending their not-Imax-sized theaters—claiming they've got fancy schmany digital projectors and sound—but digital projection and better sound are still no substitute for a gimongous, high-resolution screen.
The Thornton Creek theater opens later this month. I'll report back with confirmation of my disappointment.