IMAX & the birth of becoming the standard in movie going experience

IMAX movie theaters are on the rise with growing numbers according to their April Q1 and full 2011 February financial report. In an economic stagnant country where consumerism reigns, IMAX appears to be breaking grounds where many others are falling behind. Is IMAX ultimately going to be the new standard that the movie industry is looking for? 3D or not, standard size, true IMAX, IMAX, IMAX 3D, better sound options, and even luxury seating are being sold to us with price tags sometimes over $20 per person. That said, it would appear that the movie goers direction of dollar signs has made a distinct decision – IMAX is in, on the rise, and faster than ever.

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The film industry has been plagued over and over with the competition of the modern family’s home television set. With the current king, Blu-ray format and streaming video on demand, box office numbers have been an unpredictable battlefield for some time. Not only does the film industry struggle from within, it also has to compete and coordinate with the choices theaters are giving its potential viewers. That is a very daunting problem to hurdle in itself because directors, marketing departments, and studio executives are then confronted with decisions that are made prior to the start of a film production that may reflect the outcome of how a film performs in the theater regardless of the substance a film has.

The theaters are an unrelenting link to what consumers want from their movie ticket experience. Arguing the fact that options are good and in some cases better for movie goers is over shadowed at what some might feel as a rip-off of sorts. Paying twice the amount of a standard ticket for a film that you may not care to see in 3D, knowing that a person may prefer to see a film in IMAX over standard theater screens, and more relevant, the re-release of a film into the over populated choice theater system are all a growing revenue machines for theater owners and film studios but a sea of questionable decisions that movie goers get frustrated with.

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” – Isoroku Yamamoto

IMAX had a commercial network growth of 33% and generated revenues upwards of $66.7 million. Highlights include Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol released five days early in IMAX format alone, and recent release, The Hunger Games, earning IMAX its opening box office weekend record with 268 IMAX theaters grossing $10.2 million of the films grossed 152.5 million. Encyclopedia Online reported that in early 1999 there were more than 180 permanent IMAX theaters in 25 countries. With a current number around the range of 268 theaters in the United States alone, and this year’s reported growth of 33%, the signs all lead to a new prominent threat to a theater king of preference.

The IMAX experience is ground breaking in more ways than one. Independent films, educational films, 3D films, and special engagement films all use IMAX format for a true eventize movie event. CEO of IMAX, Richard L. Gelfond noted “The total immersion that IMAX offers surely augmented the gripping story and provided fans with a special way to experience this movie. With sellouts all weekend and IMAX fans coming out in record numbers, these results clearly show that IMAX is a powerful way to eventize a movie.”

Elizabeth Phung Photos

So if it is the casual movie goer, the date night couple, or the once or twice a year event, the IMAX experience is appearing to be the trending choice. It’s clear to see that if films are being offered more and more on release in an IMAX theater, include 3D options, and priced slightly higher than a standard theater 3D experience, then the obvious choice is to watch it in an IMAX experience. The results of IMAX’s financial reports show a clear indication that the movie goer has spoken. Don’t expect your local theaters to start erecting miniature IMAX high rise landscapes because overwhelmingly the norm is the standard theater. However, if IMAX’s solid longevity of business in combination with the recent rise in success, the standard might very well change in the next 10 years. The choice in theater snacks, well that is an entirely different story.

Here is the most recent films that have been or will be released in IMAX.


  • Underworld: Awakening: An IMAX 3D Experience (Sony, January 2012);
  • Journey 2: The Mysterious Island: An IMAX 3D Experience (WB, February 2012);
  • The Lorax: An IMAX 3D Experience (Universal, March 2012);
  • John Carter: An IMAX 3D Experience (Disney, March 2012);
  • The Hunger Games: The IMAX Experience (Lionsgate, March 2012);
  • Wrath of the Titans: An IMAX 3D Experience (WB, March 2012);
  • Titanic: An IMAX 3D Experience (April 2012)
  • HOUBA! On the Trail of the Marsupilami: The IMAX Experience (Chez WAM, Pathe Distribution, April 2012, France only);
  • The Avengers: An IMAX 3D Experience (Disney, Marvel, May 2012);
  • Dark Shadows: The IMAX Experience (WB, May 2012);
  • Men in Black III: An IMAX 3D Experience (Sony, May 2012);
  • Prometheus: An IMAX 3D Experience (June 2012)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man: An IMAX 3D Experience (Sony, July 2012);
  • The Dark Knight Rises: The IMAX Experience (WB, July 2012);
  • Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie: An IMAX 3D Experience (October 2012)
  • Skyfall: The IMAX Experience (Sony, November 2012);
  • Gravity: An IMAX 3D Experience (WB, November 2012);
  • Chinese Zodiac: The IMAX Experience (JCE Entertainment Ltd., Huayi Brothers & Emperor Motion Pictures, December 2012, int’l only); and
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: An IMAX 3D Experience (WB, December 2012).
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