IMAX started off doing short documentary type films. I remember going to the Zoo here in Kansas City on a field trip from school and watching an IMAX video about something educational. The screen was enormous, I remember watching the screen and it took up my whole field of vision, I remember seeing advertising billboards along side the highway plugging IMAX by saying “this billboard is 1/16th actual size”. When a helicopter scene would come up in point of view mode you felt like the entire theater was swaying back and forth. Even though the movies were educational the IMAX experience was cool enough to check it out while you were there. I always thought it would be cool to see a ‘real’ movie at the IMAX and low and behold they ended up showing Halloween H20 there but I didn’t end up going.
The zoo later shut down the IMAX for whatever reason and I forgot about it completely until the local AMC Theater converted one of their screens. I remember seeing the IMAX logo and wondering how they can fit that huge screen in that building. Come to find out they didn’t. The screen is larger than the main theater screens but not the ridiculous size of the ones I remembered. It was a digital picture and all but I wondered why the cost was higher.
There has never been a full length motion picture shot entirely on an IMAX camera. The Dark Knight and Transformers has shot entire scenes but not an entire movie as of time of writing. Those two movies are actually longer (by like 9 minutes) because of the extra footage. After seeing my first IMAX movie ‘Eagle Eye’ (bleh) I noticed a few things that drove the cost up.
- The sound is crazy. Total emersion of sound.
- There are two projectors showing two 2k images on the screen (why not use one 4k projector?).
- The screen is slightly larger with a crisper image than your standard screen.
Is the IMAX better? Yes, slightly (Not that $3 would keep me from watching an IMAX version of a movie).
If I were waiting in line to see a movie that was available in IMAX and it sold out before I could get to the counter to pay and had to watch the movie in a regular theater, I wouldn’t care.
IMAX is a lot like Blu-Ray in a way. Blu-ray discs hold a lot of un-compressed information and IMAX shoots in 70mm film; they both have insane audio quality, and a cleaner image than its predecessors. I think paying more now to see what every movie will be like in 10 years is worth a try and decide for yourself, but I bet you it’s the future.