Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"The IMAX Experience" is Not IMAX

I GOT INTO A CONVERSATION with one of my 3 bosses at work back in March and told him I was going to see "Watchmen" in IMAX. I was driving about an hour from where I live to see it on the big screen.

He said, "I think there's an IMAX right up here." He told me about the local AMC theater that now, apparently, had IMAX and it was, in fact, much closer than the one I'd been driving to. I had my doubts about my boss's claims. When they installed the IMAX projector into the Mall of Georgia Regal theater up in Buford, GA, many years ago, it made the front page of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution because they'd had to lower it into place with the aid of a helicopter because it's e-goddamn-normous. (And also not a lot of interesting things happen in Atlanta, despite what you may have heard.) I hadn't heard of anything like a big-time installation of and IMAX projector happening out near where I work.

This morning, my boss comes up to my cube and says: "You know that theater over by the mall? It does have IMAX. My wife went into the Joann's that's right next to the theater, (I don't know what they do [at Joann's] -- I guess they make things?) Anyway, I went in and asked if they had IMAX there and they said, yes they did."

I was still dubious, but if an employee said they had IMAX, maybe they did. But the IMAX theater was just ... hidden somehow. When there's an IMAX theater in a multiplex you damn well know it because the screen is, like the projector, e-goddamn-normous.

Well, now I know what the disconnect is.

IMAX is now putting their brand on NOT-IMAX screenings. Here's a helpful comparison. The big rectangle is the size of an actual IMAX screen, the kind I drive an hour to watch movies on. The smaller one is the size of the screen AMC and Regal and IMAX are saying provide "The IMAX Experience":

As you can see, it's total bullshit. A scam.

Aziz Ansari, the guy who plays the smarmy middle eastern dude on the new NBC comedy "Parks and Recreation" (alongside NCSA SOF alum Paul Schneider), got tricked into seeing a faux-IMAX movie ("Star Trek") and paying regular-IMAX prices. He blogged about it.

I'm a big supporter of IMAX, I think the actual IMAX experience could establish a new foundation for moviegoing that could keep theaters in business and profitable for another 50 years -- but this diluting of the brand by going after unsophisticated moviegoers is low, completely needless, and will ultimately backfire.

Anyway, something to look out for and tell others about.


Moorhead said...

So they're sort of trying to be THX? Who gives a crap about "IMAX Quality Picture & Sound". If you're going to go see something in a multiplex, most likely the bulb isn't bright enough, the screen is old and stained, and nobody'll flip on the IMAX Quality-fier anyway.

Does sound like a pretty terrible rip off.

Anonymous said...

I'm Peter Fedak. I watch my VHS in IMAX.

Anonymous said...
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