Everyone loves to watch movies on a wonderful screen. Various cinematographic technologies have emerged in recent years. One of them is IMAX and surely you want to know is IMAX worth it?
The question to this answer cannot be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We have to consider multiple things before proving the worth of IMAX.
So, we will discuss everything about IMAX in this article. After reading this write-up, you will have ample knowledge and will understand the worth of IMAX.
What is IMAX?
IMAX stands for “Image Maximum”, and is an advanced theater technology. It is a combination of standard cinema technology and special motion pictures effects.
It uses the latest tools such as projectors, laser technology, speakers, sound systems, theater structure to create an excellent watch effect.
IMAX has the largest cinema screen displays. In traditional cinemas, you watch movies on a small screen placed in the middle of the front wall.
In contrast, the giant screen covers the entire front wall of the IMAX cinema. So, the audience experiences a 3-dimensional immersive watch effect on a huge screen.
During the last century, 2D and other traditional formats were common. You may have watched a movie produced in 70’s or 80’s. It compromises picture quality, color accuracy, display, audio, and other things.
But, IMAX excels over all other cinema technologies due to its huge screen, crystal clear display, flawless and enveloping audio, and 3D immersive watch effect.
When and How IMAX Emerged?
In fact, IMAX is a theater company based in Canada. It introduced IMAX theater technology in 1967.
This company possesses high-resolution cameras, projectors, theaters, and film formats. Their theaters are present all around the world.
Initially, IMAX was known as a company and cinema format, but now it is more widely known as a film format.
In the beginning, the films showing natural panorama and feature films were created in IMAX but now every sort of film can be viewed in IMAX format.
Around the year 2000, IMAX became very popular among the moviegoers because the Disney film ‘Fantasia 2000’ was exclusively played in IMAX theaters.
Till now, many films have been produced in IMAX format.
Christopher Nolan- a British-American film director and producer- is the biggest fan of IMAX.
He produced many movies using IMAX technology and gained popularity around the world.
More than 1500, IMAX theaters have been launched in more than 80 countries and moviegoers really love watching films in an IMAX theater.
Related: IMAX vs 3D
What is Special About IMAX?
There are many special things about IMAX that are not provided by other theater technologies. IMAX has a unique screen display that excels over other theater screens both in size and quality.
Their screen is taller instead of wider and generally measures 72×53 feet. The auditorium has multiple stories for the audience and everyone enjoys the same image quality.
The standard IMAX aspect ratio is 1.43:1 while other aspect ratios are 2.39:1 and 1.9:1. These digits indicate the ratio of width to height.
Moreover, IMAX uses 15/70 film stock that means the film strips have 15 perforations instead of 5. The auditoriums are built to provide the best movie experience.
The seats are adjusted at height and directly face the screen from a small distance. So, it gives maximum resolution to the audience and little attention is paid to edges.
Salient Features of IMAX
- High-resolution, heavier, and larger cameras.
- Dual 2K or 4K laser projectors, vertical and horizontal images are superimposed to create a real 3D effect.
- Massive film stock-70mm for motion pictures.
- A giant screen display of 70-100 feet in tallness, some IMAX theaters have 117 feet screens.
- 12K resolution that is ahead of HDR10 and produces immensely vivid and bright images.
- Digital format and higher color accuracy produce lively images and are amazing for blockbuster movies.
- A 12-channel sound system that gives enveloping effect.
- Dome-shaped and curved screens make the audience feel immersed in the scene.
- Gives a sense of being a part of the scene with out-of-screen popping images.
Related: IMAX VS 4DX
Factors Affecting the Worth of IMAX Experience
Keeping in view the features and advanced IMAX technology, no doubt, it is the best film format. But, certain factors influence your watch experience in IMAX format.
IMAX can be so-called or fake that provides Standard theater quality. Moreover, it also depends on the type of content.
Comfort and flexibility are also important to consider in an IMAX cinema. All these factors determine the worth of IMAX and need to be explored in detail to have a better idea.
1. Real vs Fake IMAX
IMAX proves its worth if it is real otherwise you cannot enjoy the movie as it was meant to. You may find several theaters labeled ‘IMAX’ but they are not.
A digital IMAX theater has an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is just like the standard cinema screens and does not give the real movie effect.
While a true IMAX theater has a 75-100 feet tall screen and a 1.43:1 aspect ratio. The screen is specially designed with IMAX features.
But, in Digital IMAX theaters, the screen is adjusted to display IMAX content. Some movies are half IMAX and half normal.
Generic IMAX shots and displays every moment of the movie in IMAX format. But, Cinemark IMAX shots only a few scenes in IMAX while the rest are standard quality.
So, you need to confirm to which IMAX theater you are going. You can read reviews online about a particular theater and may ask friends if they enjoyed it.
2. Nature and Type of Content
The IMAX experience also depends on the content. If a movie is produced with IMAX cameras and technologies then it is worth watching in IMAX.
For example, ‘Interstellar’ has been created with IMAX technology. Furthermore, the image-focused content displays best in IMAX cinemas.
For instance, the documentaries on oceans, wildlife, natural panoramas astonish you when played on an IMAX screen.
Because it gives an immersive experience and you want to feel the wonderful objects and expansive sceneries. IMAX gives you a sense that you are a part of the scene.
If you wish to watch a romantic, detective, or such other films, you can watch it in a standard theater.
Such movies are story-oriented and you cannot divert your attention to appreciate the sceneries.
Movies like Godzilla, Galaxy, Guardians, Jurassic Park, Avatar, Gravity, and Pacific Rim are worth watching in IMAX.
3. Comfort and Flexibility
In an IMAX cinema, you have to wear larger polarized glasses. They enhance the movie experience by showing certain effects.
In addition, these glasses also save you from harmful screen rays. Wearing glasses is not an awkward thing. However, the idea may irritate some people.
The viewing angle may discomfort you as IMAX theaters limit your comfort. If you tilt your head, the screen goes blurry.
So, to enjoy the movie fully, you have to sit with your head straight and directly facing the screen. Inflexibility and confinement may ruin your watch experience.
4. Position of the Seat
The seats and arrangement are quite impressive in a real IMAX theater. It offers more flexibility and comfort than Standard cinemas because of padded seats.
The auditorium is built to give an equal view to all the audience. But, the seats at the very corner of the screen do not give an ideal view.
If you sit in the middle, you can comfortably cover the whole frame. However, sitting in the corner will put you in trouble.
Because you will have to move your head around to take into view the giant screen. This may cause headaches and eye fatigue.
5. Theater Location
Many of the IMAX lovers report that the IMAX experience also depends on theater location.
It is due to differences in technological advancement and infrastructure across various countries. Most of the videophiles tell that the IMAX theaters of Japan are better than those of the USA.
Moreover, some viewers also noted quality differences between the IMAX theaters of the same country.
The reason may be that some of the IMAX cinemas are upgraded to the latest technology and present the content in a better way.
The best thing is to ask for reviews before choosing a particular IMAX theater. So, the worth of IMAX also depends on the location of the theater.
6. Individual Preferences
Is IMAX worth it? The answer to this question also depends on your personal choice. If a person has seen a movie in IMAX format for the first time, it will be worth it for him.
Because it is a totally new experience for him that differs greatly from traditional cinemas. However, a person who has watched several films in IMAX theaters can notice the minor differences.
He can compare different movie experiences and will prioritize one over the other. Similarly, an irregular moviegoer has a different experience than a regular moviegoer.
Related: IMAX VS Dolby Cinema
The quality of a theater does not depend on the picture display entirely. Instead, the infrastructure, tools, and technology also influence the watch experience.
For example, the cameras, projectors, sound system, and lighting effects are meant to enhance the movie effect. Some TVs can also provide you with 3D effects but that is not worth it.
People want to enjoy their favorite films on gigantic screens. A true and real IMAX theater is worth your time and money.
It provides you with a real immersive watch effect that is beyond description. Beware of the fake IMAX that is not better than traditional cinemas.
You can also install an IMAX theater at your home but it will be too costly. Thus, it is better to spend some extra money for watching movies occasionally in a real IMAX theater.
If you consider all these factors then the answer to your question is: Yes, IMAX is worth it and much enjoyable than other film formats.
Hi, I’m Noor Alam, founder of SpeakersMag.com. I love music and got my Bachelor’s degree in Sound Engineering. Now I have started my own blog about music products. Just like you, I also love different music products and in my spare time, I share my knowledge with audio lovers on this site.