Independent Weekly pits digital IMAX vs. traditional IMAX screen size

May 27, 2011 – 3:11 pm

Independent Weekly writes:

If you talk to the theater chains’ corporate offices (reps for IMAX couldn’t be reached for comment), they’ll explain simply that audience demand for these [digital] IMAX auditoriums made them launch new ones. “It’s about demand,” says Chad Browning, director of marketing at Regal, explaining how the Crossroads IMAX came to be. “We felt like the demand was high enough for that premium experience in Cary.”

However, if you talk to, say, Giant Screen Cinema Association executive director Tammy Seldon, she’ll explain that IMAX has been pimping out its new digital technology to theater chains so they both can get some extra change from moviegoers. Says Seldon, “IMAX used to mean to a lot of people—people would think of IMAX and think, ‘giant screen!’ Because, for many years, most IMAX theaters were giant screens. Now, IMAX has branched out and has developed a new technology, of IMAX digital 3-D …This is an excellent quality presentation, but it is not necessarily on a giant screen.”

Having IMAX theaters go digital will eliminate major costs of distributing IMAX 70 mm film prints, which usually run up to $50,000 each. Even the Marbles IMAX converted to digital earlier this year, along with upgrading its audio and seating. “We waited quite a while to make the switch,” says Burgwyn, who confirms that all new IMAX theaters are digital. “We waited until the IMAX digital system was able to fit our screen size, because we did not want to lose any of our screen size once we converted.”

Unfortunately, screening IMAX on digital projectors has its disadvantages. For starters, IMAX digital projection has a much lower resolution than normal IMAX film, a problem when the images are being projected onto a screen that’s 50 to 75 feet, the size of most IMAX screens. Also, IMAX digital projectors are intended for screens that have a 1:9 aspect ratio, making IMAX films that are shot using the traditional, full-frame 15/70 format virtually irrelevant.

But the main question is, does any of this matter to the moviegoers?

Read the full article here: Link >>