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Questions about theater chains' non-IMAX bigger screens (like BigD and ETX)?


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#1 of 15 OFFLINE   Chris Will

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Posted November 08 2013 - 12:29 PM

We have a new Carmike cinema being built in my area and it is going to have one of there BigD screens.  I also know that other chains have similar screens, I think AMC calls it ETX and Cinemark calls it XD.  This will be the first one in the Montgomery area and will be the closest thing to IMAX that we have (closest IMAX is 90 minutes away).  The one being built here by Carmike says that the BigD screen is going to be 3 stories tall, which sounds pretty close to IMAX.

 

My questions are, what do they show on these big screens?  I assume they can't show actual IMAX versions of movies so, is it just blown up regular movies?  Doesn't that look bad?  I just don't see the point if they can't show IMAX movies and definitely don't see the point when they charge even more for tickets to these big screen showings.

 

Just wondering about other people's thoughts on these screens, are they worth it or is it all just a PR stunt?  It would be great to get IMAX movies here in town but, like I said, I doubt they can show IMAX movies on without the IMAX branding.  So, if you can't show IMAX movies on it, which are made with that size in mind, are there really any benefits to blowing conventional films up to that size?

 

Even if these bigger screens aren't all there made out to be, I really hope this new theater installs Dolby Atmos in a few auditoriums.  Went to a Dolby Atmos movie in Orlando and it was the most impressive cinema experience since my very first IMAX movie a long time ago.


Edited by Chris Will, November 08 2013 - 12:34 PM.


#2 of 15 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted November 08 2013 - 01:50 PM

Dolby Atmos does little for me.  Of course, I saw the first two movies mixed in Atmos (Brave and Taken 2) and maybe they have gotten better since then.

 

The bigger screens handle digital projection just fine, in fact the LieMAX screens in this area are all digital.  The Cinemark eXtreme Digital (XD) screen is also all digital.  It is 38 feet high and 69 feet wide.  With a properly lit projector, the 4K image is just fine.


Edited by Steve Tannehill, November 08 2013 - 02:01 PM.


#3 of 15 OFFLINE   Matthew Belson_295371

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Posted November 09 2013 - 12:04 PM

Yes, seeing any movie on a BIG, bright (properly lit) screen with a good sound system (can play loud without distortion) is always a good thing. No, they cannot show IMAX movies, which are simply standard films that have undergone some proprietary image processing. What stinks is having to pay extra for what used to be standard.

 

Back in the old days of let's say the 1990s or earlier, if I went to see a movie during opening week in the largest of the 2 or 3 screens it played on at the multiplex, I automatically got the biggest and best auditorium at that theater, meaning the best picture and sound. Nowadays, you are expected to pay an extra three to five dollars for showing a film how it was meant to be seen. Ridiculous!

 

I've not been to a Regal RPX, Carmike BigD or AMC ETX screen yet, but I have been to a Cinemark XD. The sound was great. The seats were leather (or an incredible simulation), not the scratchy cloth material in their other auds. The picture was very good but I'm tired of constant width screens which make scope (2.35 AR) films look letterboxed. They don't even bother moving the masking on top & bottom which would make me feel a little better.

 

Note:  The XD screen also doesn't offer matinee pricing so it's $11.50 all day (for 2d) vs $5.75/$6.75/$8.50 for other screens at this theater (2d).

 

Also, if the film is in 3d, your big screen show will likely ONLY show 3d, whereas I'd often prefer to just see it in 2d.



#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Wayne_j

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Posted November 09 2013 - 12:51 PM

My local Regal RPX does have a screen that can change to a scope screen.



#5 of 15 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted November 11 2013 - 08:30 AM

No, they cannot show IMAX movies, which are simply standard films that have undergone some proprietary image processing.

 

Or proprietary fees which is why these theater chains have adopted other big screen formats as they're much lower in cost fees-wise than IMAX.


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#6 of 15 OFFLINE   Tino

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Posted November 11 2013 - 03:06 PM

My local AMC theater charges $1 less for ETX than IMAX. Hardly a bargain which is why I always choose IMAX.
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#7 of 15 OFFLINE   Matthew Belson_295371

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Posted November 11 2013 - 03:41 PM

My local AMC theater charges $1 less for ETX than IMAX. Hardly a bargain which is why I always choose IMAX.

 

That depends...the AMC Garden State in Paramus, NJ has Dolby Atmos in the ETX auditorium, not the IMAX, since IMAX has its own proprietary sound system/format. I believe IMAX uses a single large speaker in each back corner for the surround channels, vs the array of speakers along the side and back for traditional 5.1 or 7.1 surround.



#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Tino

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Posted November 11 2013 - 04:22 PM

That depends...the AMC Garden State in Paramus, NJ has Dolby Atmos in the ETX auditorium, not the IMAX, since IMAX has its own proprietary sound system/format. I believe IMAX uses a single large speaker in each back corner for the surround channels, vs the array of speakers along the side and back for traditional 5.1 or 7.1 surround.


This is my theater! And the ATMOS sound in the ETX theater does indeed sound great but I'll take IMAX auditorium every time as the screen is significantly bigger and the sound is equally impressive. Saw Thor there today in IMAX and the presentation was awesome. Small world.

If the ETX option was $2 or $3 cheaper, I might choose it more often, but for $1, I'll pass.
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#9 of 15 OFFLINE   Matthew Belson_295371

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Posted November 13 2013 - 07:54 AM

Okay, I haven't been to that theater yet (over 1 hr. away), so my question for Tino is this: suppose the movie you want to see is NOT showing in IMAX, but is available in ETX. Do you choose ETX or just see it in a "regular" auditorium? And as a followup, how often does it happen that different movies are on the IMAX and ETX screens? I'm guessing that when only 1 big title is a new release (like Gravity last month) it takes both of those screens, plus maybe another 1 or 2 screens.

 

Based on my experience with Cinemark's XD, I'm not sure I would bother with the XD screen again. Depends on the movie, my wallet, and probably my mood that day.



#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Tino

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Posted November 13 2013 - 04:17 PM

My preferences are;

1. IMAX
2. ETX
3. Regular screen

And usually, if an IMAX film is bumped, it usually goes to the ETX theater.

And I'm not knocking the ETX theater, it is significantly better than the "regular" auditoriums. But when the same film is playing in both IMAX and ETX, which is often, I always choose IMAX. IMO, IMAX is worth the $1 up charge over ETX.
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#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Bobby Henderson

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Posted November 22 2013 - 11:40 AM

IMAX Digital theaters get a slightly different "DCP" (Digital Cinema Package) movie on hard disc than other d-cinema theaters, but the image quality isn't any better. In some respects it's actually worse if the movie was produced in 4K and can be seen at a 4K equipped theater. IMAX Digital theaters are currently equipped with 2K resolution DLP projectors. Both projectors play the same 2K image laid on top of each other. The image is brighter, but it's only a slight step above HDTV resolution. And that's not good if the image is being blown up on giant-sized screen that used to show 15-perf 70mm material.

 

Audio in IMAX Digital theaters is conventional LPCM 5.1 -even if the audio is "laser aligned." Some IMAX theaters put a phenomenal amount of amplifier power into the sound system (typically the ones that used to show giant format film), but that doesn't overcome some issues IMAX has in surround imaging. Most IMAX Digital theaters have only 2 huge cabinets in the upper rear corners of the room. That's a stark difference to the approach taken by newer sound systems and formats, such as Barco 11.1 and Dolby Atmos.

 

IMAX and Kodak are working on a new laser-based dual 4K projection system. My understanding is the new projectors should start finding their way into IMAX-branded theaters sometime in 2014. At first I thought IMAX had an exclusive deal on laser-based projection technology, but other projector manufacturers are working on competing systems. I'm hoping these systems are as good as they're being touted. Too many existing digital projectors have problems in one way or another with giant sized screens. The new 4K laser-based systems may solve some of those problems.

 

The choice between a large screen theater going with IMAX branding or an in-house brand (usually with the letter "X" included somewhere) comes down to money. IMAX charges a good sum of money for the use of its brand and the company dictates terms over how long a movie cross promoted by IMAX will stay on a IMAX branded multiplex auditorium. The theater operator could spend a bunch of its own money building the auditorium, but I understand IMAX can pay for much of the hardware in return for a revenue sharing agreement with the theater (basically a cut of the box office take). Other formats like RealD also charge hefty licensing fees which are usually rolled into the ticket price.

 

Not every theater operator likes sharing its box office take with IMAX, RealD or other third parties. Dolby 3D is an alternative to single projector RealD 3D. Christie, Barco and others have dual projection setups for giant screens. It's possible for a theater operator to build a giant screen digital cinema theater that beats IMAX in every respect. They just won't have the IMAX brand.


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#12 of 15 OFFLINE   Everett Stallings

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Posted November 22 2013 - 12:29 PM

When I saw WWZ this summer in IMAX3D I was Disappointed in the picture on a hugh screen ! I would like to see a 70mm type of picture. I hope the LASER setups will be very bright and sharp!!! The Chinese in LA. is going to be the first in Jan.2014.


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#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Bobby Henderson

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Posted November 22 2013 - 01:40 PM

Dual 4K laser projection should provide a significant improvement on modest sized IMAX Digital screens (theater screens built solely for IMAX Digital or regular theater screens converted into IMAX Digital). I'm not so sure the jump from 2K to 4K will be enough for the largest IMAX screens (typically those originally built for 15-perf 70mm film projection). For me, 2K material is just plain un-watchable on those enormous screens. 2K imagery on a canvas that big makes the projector look like it was thrown out of focus.

 

If the optics on the new laser-based projection systems are well designed that will add to the benefit of going from 2K to 4K.

 

IMHO, the lens designs in most d-cinema projectors are a compromise. Most have a single lens that has to serve the purpose of showing movies in multiple aspect ratios, zooming in/out for flat, 'scope, HDTV, etc. Add in keystone correction for good measure. The lens system can be badly affected by diffraction unless the glass elements in the lens package are made big enough to overcome it. The typical 35mm film projector usually has two lenses on a rotating turret, a spherical lens for flat shows and an anamorphic decompression lens for 'scope. A pair of Schneider Super Cinelux 35mm projector lenses are fairly small when compared to the Konica-Minolta lens on the front of a Christie digital projector.

 

'Scope in digital cinema is a very serious compromise. The 'scope format has fewer pixels than the flat format (in 2K it's 2048 X 852 versus 1998 X 1080). AFAIK, there is no true anamorphic delivery method of 'scope movies in d-cinema. Couple this with the scourge of "common width" movie theater screens and we've succeeded in making Driving Miss Daisy bigger than Die Hard.

 

IMAX Digital screens and the screens in other comparable premium priced big screen theaters tend to go the common width route, using screens that look to me like the 16:9 HDTV screen aspect ratio. In the case of IMAX some movies are "opened up" from 'scope to fill the height of those screens. Skyfall was notable for doing this. I like how some movies look in 'scope (particularly those shot on film with anamorphic lenses). But some of these trends in movie theater design, as well as the broad shift from film-based production to video-based production, has me concerned we could see the 'scope format gradually disappear in the coming years.



#14 of 15 OFFLINE   Tino

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Posted November 23 2013 - 12:34 AM

When I saw WWZ this summer in IMAX3D I was Disappointed in the picture on a hugh screen ! I would like to see a 70mm type of picture. I hope the LASER setups will be very bright and sharp!!! The Chinese in LA. is going to be the first in Jan.2014.


Are you sure it was IMAX 3D? I didn't think WWZ was released in that format. I live in the NYC metro area and it didn't play in any IMAX theaters here. I would have gone out of my way to see it if it was.
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#15 of 15 OFFLINE   Tino

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Posted November 23 2013 - 12:38 AM

Never mind. I just checked and apparently it played exclusively for one week in IMAX 3D in the US and Canada. Wonder why it never made it here, or maybe it did and I just missed it. Would like to have seen it in that format as I loved the film.
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