Today a friend of mine tweeted into my timeline about IMAX plans for five new theatres across Europe. IMAX claims that this will bring the total amount of IMAX screens in Europe to 132. Milton Keynes will be one of the lucky bearers to receive one of these screens at Odeon & UCI's multiplex. Lucky them, or so you might be led to believe.
Before I start ripping into IMAX, I want to address what seems to be a general confusion within the paying public on what constitutes an actual IMAX screen. There are many who believes whenever they watch a film in an IMAX branded cinema that they are actually watching an IMAX film. Let me clarify.
There's IMAX, and there's IMAX.
More specifically, there's IMAX the experience, and there's IMAX the brand. Many theaters these days contains IMAX branded screens. These may be IMAX branded, but they are certainly not IMAX in the classical sense. These screens, commonly referred to by IMAX enthusiasts as lieMAX, are essentially retrofitted theaters powered by a pair of 2K projectors system. And they costs the same as watching on a real IMAX screen.
Even ignoring the advantages (which you should not) the 15/70 film format holds, IMAX theatres has an advantage of being totally massive in physical size allowing you to fill your entire vision. Most of the current lieMAX theatres are simply retrofitted cinemas, so you get none of the resolution advantage of a 15/70 IMAX format holds and none of that genuine terrifying dimensions and thus immersive experience IMAX is known for. To get that IMAX experience, the film has to be shot on an IMAX 15/70 camera and then shown on a IMAX 15/70 theater.
Why do they do these? Why, to trick customers into paying more of course. Like 3D, digital IMAX is one of the film industry's big money making spins. Why build a proper new expensive IMAX screen when you can charge film goers into paying the same amount for a lesser experience? It's economics 101.
For these very reasons I outlined, I am extremely cautious over these new IMAX theatres claims. Are these new screens lieMAX 2K or actual IMAX 15/70? I suspect the former.