“ScreenX or IMAX? which is better?” has become the topic of a hot debate nowadays. Both refer to advanced theater technologies that provide an exceptional movie experience.
Especially, regular moviegoers are very much concerned about cinema technology. Because they want to make their watch experience unforgettable.
I have been exploring people’s different opinions and discussing with friends both cinematic formats. I was in favor of IMAX as I have watched many movies in this format.
However, the discussion cannot yield final results because I did not go to a ScreenX cinema till last month. Therefore, I decided to experience this theater myself.
Then, I compared both by placing them side by side. In this article, I will explain how both these cinema technologies differ from each other and how they are similar.
I intend to save your money and time. Further, I will present an overview of their features and specs. In the end, it will become easier for you to decide which is better between the two.
What is IMAX?
IMAX is the short form of “Image Maximum”. This technology uses premium quality cameras, projectors, and sound systems. It has the biggest screen size and plays lively images.
The audience feels immersed in the scene because of the giant screen. The motion pictures seem to pop out of the screen and reach you. Moreover, a 12-channel surround sound system takes you to the movie.
What is ScreenX?
ScreenX is the project of CJ 4DPLEX- a company specializing in motion theater technology. It also uses a huge screen but is different from IMAX.
The display screen in a ScreenX theater is just like a standard cinema screen. However, it is projected to the left and right walls.
The main image is played on the center screen. While its further details are extended to the sidewalls.
For example, a car runs on the center screen while pavements, buildings, and other objects can be seen on the side walls. This creates a 270-degrees effect enveloping you from three sides.
IMAX or ScreenX: A Comprehensive Review
To decide between these two formats, you have to understand them in full detail. Here, I will review the important features, similarities, and differences of both technologies.
Technology at Use
The major difference between ScreenX and IMAX is the technology. Both involve different pre and post-production stages, cameras, and projectors.
IMAX uses dual 4K or 8K projectors. The horizontal and vertical images are integrated together to create a unique effect.
Moreover, it uses specialized heavy cameras in 15/70 mm film format that is 10x bigger than standard.
ScreenX uses 5 projectors to display the movie. It records the film in special ScreenX format. Hardware tools are combined with the software programs for a 270-degrees view.
Movies are shot in ScreenX format and edited further to present on the screen. While IMAX can display any movie on its screen in addition to shooting certain movies in its special format.
IMAX has a giant screen measuring 52 feet in height and 72 feet in width. It extends from floor to ceiling and from wall to wall. The world’s biggest IMAX screen measures 117×97 feet.
It is a rectangular screen when seen from the front. The screen is curved and assumes the shape of a dome. This ensures a 3D and popping-out image.
On the other hand, ScreenX has a normal screen size that is placed in front of the viewers. While the sidewalls are used to project the image.
It creates a 270 degrees view that captures the entire field of vision. The additional extended image reveals minute details of the scene.
So, an illusion is created to make the audience feel a part of the panorama.
Hence, the major difference between these two cinemas is that one enlarges the image and displays it on a single giant screen. While the other extends the image, produces minute details, and uses 3 screens.
IMAX display quality is matchless. The aspect ratio is 1.90:1 which is ideal. It uses 35 trillion colors with high accuracy. Moreover, the brightness and clarity are amazing.
You feel like watching everything in real, not on a screen. The image is perfect, crystal clear, and lively with no blurriness.
ScreenX also has a good display quality. But, it cannot compete with IMAX. Because IMAX uses special film formats, projectors, cameras, and display features.
The image at ScreenX is bigger but displayed in 270-degrees format. It is a very unique experience to sit amid and watch the scenes being played on 3 sides. The sidewalls use a high-quality fabric to project images.
There is nothing special about the sound system at ScreenX. Because it entirely focuses on immersive watch effects. The audio is just like a standard cinema.
However, IMAX has special sound systems. It has installed a 12-channel sound system. The speakers are positioned accurately to produce an immersive effect.
Some cinemas also use Dolby Atmos and DTS: X sound formats. Many IMAX cinemas have upgraded their sound technology recently.
IMAX has comfortable and padded seats. They are located at a height so that every viewer can watch the screen without any obstruction.
The cinema has multiple storeys but the view from each seat is clear. The seats on the very left or right may not give you the perfect view.
Another notable aspect is that you have to keep your head straight. Tilting can create a negative and blurry image.
ScreenX has placed its screen at height. So, the seats are arranged in rows in front of each other. Overall, the seats are comfortable and have good quality.
You may also like: A Guide to Choose the Seat at an IMAX Theater
Availability and Cost
ScreenX was commercially introduced in 2012. Relatively it is a newer technology and required specially designed theaters. IMAX dates back to the 1970s and has been upgrading since then.
There are only 316 ScreenX theaters in 34 countries. While IMAX has more than 1500 cinemas in 80 countries around the world.
So, IMAX is available easily and costs around $20. ScreenX is not available at all places and costs about $30.
Comparison and Contrast Table
|Technology||Multiprotection technology that uses 5 projectors to shoot and format films||High-quality and heavy projectors, cameras, and giant screen|
|Screen Display||A center screen with projected images on sidewalls for a 270-degrees view||52x72 feet screen with popping images. Bright, crystal clear, and accurate colors|
|Sound System||No especial audio systems just the standard format||A high-fidelity 12-channel audio system. Enveloping sound with precisely positioned speakers.|
|Seats||Comfortable seats placed in before the screen in front of each other||Comfortable and padded chairs, each seat faces the screen directly.|
|Availability||More than 316 theatres around 34 countries in the world.||Almost 1500 theaters in more than 80 countries worldwide.|
|Cost||Costs about $30 that is 2x the price of standard cinema||Costs $20 almost and is 50% expensive than standard theaters|
You can watch movies of any genre in IMAX. I enjoyed the action, romance, horror, science fiction, and animated films at this cinema.
The immersive effect is ideal to watch any sort of movie. However, you can watch only those movies that are recorded and formatted in ScreenX.
Hence, the choice is limited. Some popular movies formatted in ScreenX are Venom, Black Widow, Top Gun: Maverick, Morbius, Doctor Strange, Elvis, The Batman, Soul, etc.
My Movie Experience at IMAX
During watching Lion King, I got frightened as the lion jumped out. I felt he is coming out of the screen falling upon me. The characters are so big that they seem to approach you.
Moreover, I did not feel the sound coming out of the screen. Instead, I had an expression that every character is speaking next to me.
The whole experience was so enveloping and lively that I lived every moment of the movie. Later on, I watched many movies at different IMAX cinemas. My vote always goes for it.
My Movie Experience at ScreenX
I recently watched Spider-Man: No Way Home. This movie is recorded and formatted in ScreenX. It was really fun to watch the film from all my sides.
I could see everything in full detail and in a bigger format. However, I could differentiate between the main screen and the side walls.
The image did not seem like a unified whole but rather in 3 parts. Moreover, some scenes were played entirely on the main screen and the side walls were blank.
This shatters the immersive illusion. Overall, I enjoyed the movie but I do not prefer it over IMAX.
FAQs About IMAX and ScreenX
Here are some of the frequent questions that may be coming to your mind while reading this article.
Is ScreenX distracting or worth watching?
ScreenX is good to watch but the image quality may seem a little compressed as compared to the main screen. Since the pictures are displayed in three sections, they may not give a unified effect. Moreover, some scenes are played normally only on the main screen, it is a little distracting.
How to identify LieMax or a Fake IMAX?
Real IMAX always has a giant screen filling your field of vision. The screen stretches from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. A rectangular screen hanging in the middle of the front wall is LieMax. If the screen is slightly bigger than normal cinema screens, you can call it a fake IMAX.
You can also read my comparison of IMAX with 4DX here.
IMAX Wins over ScreenX
Considering all the factors, pros, and cons, it can be concluded that IMAX is better than ScreenX. A real immersive effect is the first reason.
While high-quality audio, giant and lively images, flexibility, and greater choice to watch movies are some other reasons.
Personally, I prefer IMAX over other theater technologies. It not only gives the best watch experience but also a calm and comfortable environment.
However, you should visit ScreenX at least once. Because it is a very different technology that has the ability to amaze you. Let me know your watch experience in the comment box.