Disney resigns with IMAX

posted by danpetitpas on November 25, 2008 at 7:45 am

The Walt Disney Disney Co., which hasn’t released a theatrical film in IMAX for over five years, has signed a five-picture deal with the large format film company. IMAX will distribute the films starting in November 2009 with Robert Zemeckis' “A Christmas Carol” starring Jim Carrey. Zemeckis' two previous films, “The Polar Express” and “Beowulf,” were released in IMAX.

Disney says it had not given up on IMAX but that it was busy launching its own Disney Digital 3D, which is a rebranding of the Real 3D system.

With the world economic crisis slowing down the expansion of digital and 3D screens, teaming up with IMAX, which has its own digital and 3D systems, makes sense.

The industry believes it has to achieve 3,000 screens to be able to exclusively open a film digitally and not limit its profitability. It is estimated that there will be 2000 digital screens by next year, 1000 screens short.

Disney has a long history with IMAX starting with “Fantasia 2000” which was exclusively released to IMAX theaters for four months. In 2002, “Treasure Island” was the first film to debut both in IMAX and conventional theaters at the same time. Since then, the studio has released several short documentaries in IMAX, with the last one being “Roving Mars” in 2006.

Read more in CNN Money.

Comments (10)

moviebuff82 on November 25, 2008 at 11:55 am

One error, Dan. The last Disney movie to be shown in IMAX was “Treasure Planet”, not “Treasure Island”, as that’s a futuristic remake of a classic story. Looks like the Mouse House has to play catchup against other studios which have signed with IMAX.

danpetitpas on November 25, 2008 at 1:59 pm

You’re right. I had “Treasure Island” on the mind when I was writing this. But there’s some definite scrambling going on out there to grab as many digital screens as possible. Over the weekend, reports were that Bolt was grossing 50% more per screen in digital theaters than in the 35mm theaters.

moviebuff82 on November 25, 2008 at 3:26 pm

That’s amazing. Same could be said for “Beowulf” as it wasn’t as popular in Rockaway while in Parsippany and Succasunna, it did better because of the 3-D.

KingBiscuits on November 25, 2008 at 4:35 pm

They should have done this a bit earlier, mainly for Wall-E. Wall-E was designed for a 70mm look and IMAX would have really shown off its space opera feel but since no deal between Disney and IMAX existed, the film only came out in regular formats (35mm and DLP).

moviebuff82 on November 25, 2008 at 4:48 pm

And now it’s out on Blu-Ray, the way it was meant to be seen. They should re-release Fantasia (the 1940 one) in IMAX since it was filmed in that ratio (same goes for the pre widescreen Disney movies of that era). Next year will be 50 years of Disney’s first venture into 70mm with the release of Sleeping Beauty, also out on Blu-Ray in its original wide ratio. At the time, it was expensive to make, and made very little money for Disney during his last years with the studio. 70mm was also used for The Black Hole, Tron, and The Black Cauldron, not to mention several Touchstone films.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 25, 2008 at 5:49 pm

The headline should probably say “re-signs” since “resigns” is the opposite of what is meant.

Giles on December 2, 2008 at 12:23 pm

I just hope these films will be shot in 1.85 or less so they can take up most of the IMAX screens, scope (2.35) films on IMAX are such a waste, the black borders above and below the image are beyond annoying. Disney should be remastering some of their classic film via 4K technology and DM'Red so IMAX screenings could be more common place.

moviebuff82 on December 2, 2008 at 12:35 pm

I agree. At the AMC in Rockaway, 1.85 fills the entire screen while 2.35 or more shrinks it.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 2, 2008 at 7:42 pm

I recently stopped in to take a peek at the Imax screen in Sheepshead Bay, where Eagle Eye was playing, and the bottom five feet (at least!) of the screen was blank. Less than impressive, I must say.

KingBiscuits on December 2, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Eagle Eye was presented theatrically in 2.40 while the IMAX Digital screens are 1.85, so the film would need be presented letterboxed unless cropping or open-matting (assuming that it was a Super 35 film) were done.

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