Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater

6th Street and Independence Avenue,
Washington, DC 20560

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Located in the National Air and Space Museum. Opened on July 1, 1976 with the first major IMAX hit movie “To Fly” (which they still play sometimes), this theater is currently the oldest IMAX theater in the US.

Contributed by Justin Fencsak

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

moviebuff82 on June 15, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Has this theater been renovated before?

JodarMovieFan on January 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm

My friend and I caught the last showing of Star Trek in true IMAX. Its been probably 20 years plus since I’ve seen any movie here. I remember when it opened back in ‘76 and 'To Fly’ was the first IMAX film to be experienced. There were warnings given to people about getting motion sickness from watching the movie but it was a treat and showed off the format quite well. The sound and overall presentation was terrific.

Star Trek was masked but not as badly as in the AMC IMAX-lite venues. The movie plays well in this format. Surprisingly, the print held up well with no noticeable markings or scratchings. Surrounds were present and distinct but, unlike the best THX-cert houses lacked oooomph, noticeably missing during the warp jumps and hand to hand contact hits. There were well over 100 plus in attendance, not enough to fill out the auditorium but a pleasant surprise given the fact it was super frigid outside, probably in the single digits factoring in for windchill.

As we left, we were thanked for coming, not by none other than the security guards as we filed out of the theater AND exiting the door.

Giles on October 9, 2014 at 1:51 pm

from an article regarding the conversion from 15/70 to digital projection on the IMAX screen:

“All three of Smithsonian’s IMAX theaters will close from January to March 2015 to convert from film to digital.”

from this online article:


Giles on October 22, 2014 at 4:48 pm

correction: the screen will get the conversion but it will not be in the claimed January – March 2015 timeline. The museum is slated for renovations in the next couple of years and at that time (or possibly sooner) the IMAX screen will then be upgraded.

Giles on January 30, 2015 at 3:09 pm

screen dimensions is 74ft by 48ft

Giles on December 27, 2015 at 8:26 pm

from the Smithsonian’s Facebook page:

“Last chance to experience 15/70mm film at the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater!

‪#‎TheForceAwakens‬ will be our final show in film on January 10th. On January 11th we close our doors to upgrade our facility to the state-of-the-art IMAX with Laser digital projection system!"

sign of the times…

JodarMovieFan on December 28, 2015 at 10:00 am

Did you see Star Wars at any of the real IMAX venues, Giles? If its masked, the actual viewing size may not be worth the trip.

Laser should make it on par with the Grauman, er TLC Chinese and Seattle Cinerama or closer to. I’m thinking the Cinerama still has true film projection.

Giles on January 4, 2016 at 8:16 pm

I haven’t yet Jodar – I’m eyeing seeing ‘The Force Awakens’ this coming Saturday here

I was under the impression that the aspect ratio “1.43 : 1 (some scenes: IMAX 70mm)” [as indicated on IMDB] meant full screen – right?

“IMAX 70mm” also pertains to the IMAX-laser systems that are projected on 4:3 screens.

Giles on January 13, 2016 at 12:28 pm

of the two laser installs, this is going to be the longest, with a stated ‘March 2016’ reopening time frame. As it’s the oldest IMAX screen of the Smithsonian’s the conversion will be more complex than Udvar Hazy’s.

Giles on February 14, 2016 at 8:06 am

according to the Air & Space’s theater website the theater is reopening on February 25th and will be showcasing the new laser system with ‘The Force Awakens’ (beginning on Friday) til Sunday night.

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