Thursday, May 14, 2009
Fake IMAX is Fake
- Caitlin Taldock (Arts&Pop Culture Editor)
July 18th, 2008 was the day I was ready for my first IMAX experience that wasn’t forced upon me by middle school science teachers. I purchased tickets for the midnight showing of The Dark Knight. Ronnie’s Cinema on Lindbergh holds the only IMAX in St. Louis besides the St. Louis Science Center’s Omnimax, which is a screen that surrounds a person like a projection dome that shows educational films voiced over by Kevin Bacon.
Everyone was ushered into the IMAX at Ronnie’s like cattle for the midnight showing. When I entered the theater I immediately turned around and went back outside to look at the sign above the theater to double check to see if I was going into the right one. I checked my ticket to make sure it said “IMAX” somewhere on it, and after that confirmation I went to an employee and asked where the IMAX theater was. The employee pointed me in the right direction, which was the theater I originally went into. I was confused but went back and took my seat anyway.
Before the film started a warning came up on screen and a robot told the audience that because IMAX is so extreme one might feel nauseous during some intense action scenes and that one should close their eyes and put their head down so the dizziness and nausea would go away promptly. I was reassured that maybe this will be something spectacular and I would be able to throw up on the row below me. I was sorely disappointed when the movie started. The screen did stretch from the bottom to the top but didn’t wrap around the whole theatre like I experienced in middle school when we watched a Titanic documentary at the Omnimax. I also didn’t get nauseous from the IMAX experience but rather from Christian Bale’s Batman voice effects. The film was digital (DLP) and had a nice quality like those flat screens people have in their homes now.
When ordering tickets at fandango.com the cost for an “IMAX Hollywood Experience” is $11.75 and a regular St. Louis experience is $9.25. I was puzzled as to why a few feet of screen and making a film digital would have such a price increase. I guess I wasn’t the only one. Comedian Aziz Ansari from Parks and Recreation and Human Giant recently discovered a Fake IMAX in LA when he paid $15.00 to watch Star Trek on Friday.
Ansari says that “basically IMAX is whoring out their brand name and trying to trick people. These new ‘IMAX’ theatres are really just nice digital screens with good sound, but they ARE NOT IMAX, in that they don’t have the huge 72 foot gigantic screen which people would expect.”
Theatres have different names for their fake IMAX screens. In St. Louis, Ronnie’s Cinema refers to them as “The IMAX Experience” or “The IMAX Hollywood Experience” to differentiate from the giant IMAX screens people are used to associate with the name IMAX. The definition of the IMAX according to fandango.com dupes customers who pay for the fake IMAX experience; “the IMAX Experience® is the world's most immersive movie experience. Using the world's largest movie format, IMAX delivers breathtaking, crystal clear images projected onto screens that fill the entire field of view and a powerful state-of-the-art digital surround sound system. Visit your local IMAX Theater to experience the feeling of being part of the movie”.
Aziz Ansari decided to write his blog (www.azizisbored.tumblr.com) to warn people about the dangers of fake IMAXs’, and it worked. The next day entertainment blogs like “Oh No They Didn’t!” and Digg.com both featured the entry on their top of the day topics. I doubt that this buzz about the fake IMAX’s will get a petition to start to build real IMAXs’ in place of the fakes but maybe the IMAX will be renamed with a more fitting name like “LIEMAX” or “Digital-Screen-With-Good-Sound-And-Slightly-Bigger-Theater-Than-Others.”
To tell if the IMAX theatre you are going to is either a LIEMAX or an authentic one go to http://www.bigmoviezone.com/ and type in your zip code and check the theater stats. If the stats say “1570” then that is a genuine IMAX theatre, but if it just says “Digital” than it’s a LIEMAX. Don’t fall into the IMAX digitally enhanced surround sound trap!