Back in March I was excited with the release of Watchmen here in Hawaii. Not because I was a fan of the graphic novel that was adapted into a movie, but because Oahu would see the reintroduction of an IMAX screen that would show commercial/Hollywood films. Before the movie began though I had an uneasy feeling just from stepping into the theater . . . this was not the IMAX I was expecting to see, it[the screen] was smaller. Granted my experience with watching films on IMAX is somewhat limited having only seen two commercial films on IMAX and having been to only four theaters. However, I was expecting something more when I stepped into Regal Dole Cannery’s IMAX theater, something bigger.
Looking into the matter a bit more I discovered that what most likely happened at Dole was an IMAX retrofitting done in partnership between IMAX and Regal where IMAX will install proprietary projectors, speakers, and hardware if the theater pays for structural modifications to make this happen in a process described here by Gizmodo. Traditionally in the past IMAX would be responsible for constructing it’s own buildings and theaters, but in order to rapidly expand, IMAX developed retrofitting partnerships with established theater chains to expand their brand.
Needless to say that when you have this type of expectation and you don’t get it, you’re going to have people feeling a little let down. Case in point Aziz Ansari, a Los Angeles actor/comedian. Recently he caused quite a stir when he got upset after seeing Star Trek: The IMAX Experience in Burbank, California and felt cheated because it wasn’t the “traditional” IMAX screen that I just previously described. He set out on a campaign to “expose” the “fake IMAXs” in a post on his blog. Well the dust up caused such a stir that Imax CEO Richard Gelfond has been addressing the media assuring moviegoers that:
Imax enjoys enormous customer satisfaction, backing up the claim with a market-research study that found that 98% of Imax moviegoers had enjoyed their experience at the new, medium-sized theaters as much as at the older giant screens.