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MaryAnn Johanson

A Call to Arms: Beware Fake IMAX Theaters

Have you gotten tricked into paying IMAX prices for a sorta not IMAXy cinema experience? Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around these days. Movie fans have been complaining about it for months. But even Roger Ebert’s public protests (here’s a bit) never quite caught fire. It took actor Aziz Ansari, of the NBC series Parks and Recreation to do that, when he posted a ranting, pissed-off screed on his blog about how he felt ripped off when he paid a premium to see Star Trek, ostensibly in IMAX, in May.

You don’t mess with Trekkies.

Or IMAX.

Real IMAX screens, well, we all know what they look like. IMAX has been training us since we were kids, when we went to see nature documentaries at science museums, that IMAX means “freakin’ huge screen and blow-your-ears-out sound.” Nowadays, however, IMAX is lending its name to the retrofitting of traditional multiplex screens. A few rows of seats come out, the screen moves a teeny bit closer to the viewer … and that’s it. For this, get ready to hand over another three or four bucks on top of the ten or so you’re already paying. Oh, and the projection is digital. But plenty of theaters were already screening movies digitally — at the regular ticket price.

The latest? Frank Marshall, a producer responsible for many of the films that made today’s movie geeks the movie geeks we are, including the Indiana Jones and Back to the Future series, Goonies, Gremlins, and a lot more — recently tweeted:

While attending screening of BRUNO last night, I stopped into the much hyped IMAX theater at the AMC on 42nd st. NYC. I was stunned … there is nothing remotely resembling an IMAX screen or presentation, don’t spend your money for this… I can’t believe they can get away with this. It’s really false advertising…

(We found that via Slashfilm.)

The screens are nowhere near IMAX size. Anyone who’s seen an IMAX movie can tell that. The people who know large-format cinema — at the trade journal L[arge]F[ormat]Examiner — say these “IMAX Digital” screens are a crock (and they’ve got a list of real IMAX theaters that explains the differences between them all). And yet IMAX’s laughable attempts at damage control have consisted mostly of trying to convince everyone that IMAX doesn’t necessarily mean, you know, IMAX. Why would anyone think that?

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MaryAnn Johanson never said she wasn’t the Queen of Sheba at FlickFilosopher.com. (email me)


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Tags: Imax, Star trek, Transformers: revenge of the fallen