IMAX is still trying to fuck you in the butt (but at least they’re honest about it)

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In the summer of 2009, Aziz Ansari, of Parks and Recreations fame, posted this. He’s pissed because he got duped into paying for IMAX when the screen clearly wasn’t IMAX-sized.

Then, all of a sudden, everybody made a stink, calling out IMAX, AMC, and Regal for basically robbing customers of a surcharge. Around this same time, the LIEMAX blog was booming as it mapped real vs. fake IMAX screens. It even made on the local news in Vegas.

Then, on Friday August 14, 2009, the blog shut down. And so did all of the hullabaloo, it seemed, without any reconciliation or apologies from IMAX.

Luckily, IMAX.com’s map now makes that same distinction for you. On their site, they specify whether a theater is “Traditional IMAX” or “real” and “Multiplex Design” or “fake.”[1]

Multiplex designs, according to the IMAX website,  are described as such: “…the old screen has been replaced with a larger, slightly curved, IMAX screen, that is positioned closer to the viewer to maximize field of view; IMAX screens in multiplex design locations range in size from 47′ x 24′ to 74′ x 46′.”

Traditional IMAX screens are described as ranging in size between 51′ x 37′ to 117′ x 96′ so even if you wind up with a traditional screen that’s comparable to a multiplex design, you’re getting precisely what the engineers intended when it comes to placement of seats, speakers, and screen.

It’s amazing, quite honestly, that IMAX seems to pride themselves on giving one the biggest and best image on top of the best sound but, now, they’re just upcharging to cover the cost of replacing a projector with a similar one that runs a larger format–and the cost of upgrading it to digital when the time comes.

What it comes down to is money, obviously. Since the IMAX name has become synonymous with quality and giant screens, they’re able to do a half-ass renovation of a theater, put up four giant blue letters, and charge you extra.

The most interesting development to come out of this is that Regal and AMC have come up with their own versions of multiplex IMAX–the Regal Premium Experience (RPX) and the Extreme Theater Experience (ETX).

Basically, they’re the half-assed multiplex designs but without the naming rights.  And maybe leather seats[2]. One has to wonder whether or not this was IMAX’s doing so that they didn’t completely tarnish their name.

With true IMAX, there are some things that nobody seems to be able to replicate–crystal clear, giant-ass picture, and such a heavy sound system that it sucks the air out of your lungs. Even during a film like Inception that is presented across the middle of the screen, it’s still the biggest middle of the screen you’ll get–that is, in a traditional screen.

I’ve known about this and haven’t gotten duped into multiplex IMAX yet, so I couldn’t tell you if at least the sound was up to par.

Either way, it’s some rank bullshit that I wanted my readers to be aware of.

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[1] Because these instructions are long and stodgy, I’m gonna put’em down here:

  1. Go to imax.com. The flash will load. Along the top there is a box labeled “Find your ‘IMAX.’” Type in your location into the grey box next to the label.
  2. When you do that, a map will show up with all the IMAX theaters within something like 30 miles of your specifified location.
  3. Some are blue (3D!), some are green (not 3D), some are dark blue (domes, usually at science centers), some are orange (coming soon).
  4. Pick one and hover over it. The box will expand to give the name and location of the theater with a bunch of links underneath it including “Buy Tickets,” Directions, etc. The one you want to click on for these purposes is “Theater Description.”
  5. A new box will pop up and the first words will either be This is a multiplex (fake) Imax or this is a traditional (real) IMAX.
  6. If fake IMAX, find the nearest real IMAX. You might as well drive to get the most for your money. It’s harder to find real IMAX in bigger cities (for example: There are three IMAXes on the Island of Manhattan, only the one at the Loews Lincoln Center is traditional).

[2] At the one RPX I went to at the Times Square Regal E-Walk, there were leather seats. It was a nice, unnecessary touch. I don’t care if there’s cum stains on my chairs so long as the sound and the picture are top notch. I don’t pay for seats, I pay for cinema.

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