AMC to build 100 digital IMAX screens

posted by danpetitpas on December 18, 2008 at 3:47 pm

AMC Entertainment announced it has signed with IMAX to convert 100 screens in 33 markets to digital IMAX.

The idea is to compete with TV and DVDs by presenting an experience that cannot be replicated at home or with any other form of entertainment.

The digital IMAX screens will be 25% larger than average screens with laser-aligned sound systems.

AMC will charge a $3 premium over the regular ticket price.

IMAX films lined up for release include a January re-release of The Dark Knight, “Watchmen” and “Monsters vs. Aliens 3D” in March, “Star Trek” and “Night at the Museum 2” in May, Harry Potter in June, Jim Carrey’s “A Christmas Carol 3D” in November, and James Cameron’s long-awaited “Avatar 3D” in December.

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Comments (29)

markp on December 18, 2008 at 5:14 pm

If its not 15 perf 70MM Imax, I cant be bothered.

Ron Carlson
Ron Carlson on December 18, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Good for AMC. With the quality of home entertainment the only way the theater industry is going to survive is to offer an experience that can not be had at home. Also of note is the recent build up of up scale theaters that offer luxury amenities and services and a return to “movie palace” type of entertainment. Cookie cutter boxes that herd you in and then spit you out are thankfully coming to an end. The industry is coming full circle.

CSWalczak on December 18, 2008 at 5:37 pm

I wish though there was more clarity about the claim that these “digital IMAX screens will be 25% larger than average screens.” Some of AMC’s existing screens are very small, so I wonder what what the current “average screen” currently is.

If it means 25% larger than average existing IMAX screens worldwide, then I might be impressed (though I still think Cinerama and the original Todd-AO were more immersive processes; to me, though I like IMAX, it’s a case of bigger not being better).

JodarMovieFan on December 18, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Isn’t this the same old announcement made a year ago? They’re rolling them out already, with at least three installs in the Washington DC market. I’m getting to like the presentations. The ones that aren’t 2:35 widescreen are even better as it utilizes the entire screen. As for the extra $3 price, I try to go to the first matinee as its a more palatable $9.

moviebuff82 on December 18, 2008 at 7:02 pm

The Dark Knight re-release will be the first IMAX Digital feature at the AMC in Rockaway when it opens on January 23rd. I can’t wait soon enough. I’ll probably wait until a newer movie comes out since I might get the new Batman for xmas on Bluray, which has the action scenes in IMAX intact. I’ll probably shoot for the AM Cinema or let Dad use some of those AMC Gold movie passes!!!

CinemarkFan on December 18, 2008 at 11:04 pm

I’ll wait for an indie theater corp to install a SDS-70MM projector. THAT, will be something.

MPol on December 18, 2008 at 11:46 pm

There are some troublesome things about the AMC Theatres, however.

A) Rude, noisy, obnoxious and/or cell-phone-using patrons.

B) Exhorbitant prices for both general admission AND the concession stands

C) Like many, if not most of these modern, multiplex cinemas, many, if not most of the AMC Theatres are chopped up into anywhere from 10-25 cinemas, whose screens essentially look like big-assed TV’s, in theatres that’re somewhat like shoeboxes, if one gets the drift.

D) Often enough, the AMC Theatres, like many, if not most of these multiplex cinemas, are quite antiseptic-looking inside.

All that not withstanding, however, since digital cinema is the wave of the future, I guess that’s the way theatres can survive. There’s an advantage to digital cinema over ordinary film, however; Unlike film, which is essentially made out of mylar (someone correct me if I’m wrong on this one),
the large discs that would go into digital cinema aren’t vulnerable to melting if the projector, for whatever reason, should overheat, as it sometimes can and has happened with ordinary, average movie film. When I was in undergrad school a little over thirty years ago, one of my classmates went to see the film “A Touch of Class”, starring Peter O'Toole. Somewhere during the showing that my classmate attended, the projector overheated, and started burning a hole in the film..during the screening, and it melted!

Come to think of it, if digital cinema really IS the wave of the future, might it end up in the few remaining movie palaces here in the United States as well? Also, it might be interesting, since there may be a dearth of new prints for great, golden oldie-but-goody classic films such as Lawrence of Arabia, West Side Story, Dr. Zhivago, not to mention countless others, to see great old movie classics such as the above-mentioned titles to be re-done as digital cinema, no?

Would love some feedback on the latter question(s). Any thoughts? Just curious as to what other posters here on cinematreasures might think.

JodarMovieFan on December 19, 2008 at 12:02 am

Mpol, as far as your statements, I’ll agree with A, B and C. The newer plexes that have been built by AMC in the last several years are much better than we’ve had from Regal. The AMC theaters have larger, wider screens, more comfortable seats and, yes, do charge slightly more but then again, most here charge around $10-11 for adult evening admissions.

Since I live and patron theaters in the Washington DC Metro area, I can only speak for myself and the general area. As I’ve said on different news stories about digital vs. film, on CT, film projection sucks. Why? You have multiplexes that run automated systems that don’t pay attention to proper light levels, sound, picture placement, etc. As such, I’ll take DP movie over film any day, anytime in this CURRENT market and the way things are NOW.

MPol on December 19, 2008 at 12:17 am

Thanks, JodarMovieFan.

It seems as if there are advantages and disadvantages to both digital cinema and regular film projection. The fact that multiplex cinemas run on automated systems that don’t consider proper light levels, sound, picture placement, or whatnot, is unfortunate. Movie admission prices in our area, no matter where one goes, are close to reaching the $10.00-11.00 mark for admissions. Having a memebership to a movie palace is an advantage, in that one can get into a screening on a pretty substantial discount.

Several years ago, I saw Apocalypse Now Redux at the AMC Theatre (Formerly Lowes)Boston Common. The seats were not only quite comfortable, but there was stadium-type seating, so that one would be looking at the movie, rather than at the backs of people’s heads.

PeterApruzzese on December 19, 2008 at 3:37 am

Digital projection, for the most part, sucks. Pixelation readily visible to the naked eye on anything over a 30 foot screen, a lack of the dynamic range in color compared to a properly made 35mm print, compression artifacts during fast-moving scenes, and an artificial digital ‘hardness’ to the image that is not present with organic 35mm (to say nothing of 70mm) film.

markp on December 19, 2008 at 4:33 am

I have to agree with Peter and Bob Jensen. I still cant believe this digital thing is ever going to take off the way the theatres and studios hope it does, and Mini-Max is just owesome. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

CinemarkFan on December 19, 2008 at 4:59 am

All Steven Spielberg (or another director with clout) needs to do is shoot a movie in 70MM, strike up a select few of these prints, and this whole DIET-MAX stuff will be put to shame.

KingBiscuits on December 19, 2008 at 5:47 am

Samsara (if it’s ever released) is a start.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on December 19, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Pete: you know way more about this than I do, but I saw “Che” at the Ziegfeld yesterday and it was shot with a new kind of digital camera called “The Red”. The picture quality was truly excellent. No pixelation that I could see, and I was sitting in the 8th row. Some scenes had such beautiful highly-saturated color that I really felt like I was watching 70mm. I thought the Star Wars prequels shot on digital often looked flat and washed-out, but this was something else altogether.

MPol on December 19, 2008 at 8:48 pm

PeterApruzzese, I definitely do agree with you about the presence of a kind of artificial hardness of the images on ditigal, which the DVD’s that’re made for television are a smaller version of. The color is often too intense, and the presence of pixelatiion is kind of unnerving, at times. I remember going to see Sidney Lumet’s film “Network”, at a theatre in Boston and sitting close enough to the screen so that I couldn’t help noticing the pixelations on the film. It seemed a little wierd. This was back in January or February of 1976, when I was still in undergrad school. Makes me wonder if that was already a beginning of digital cinema.

PeterApruzzese on December 19, 2008 at 10:22 pm

Bill – Were they showing Che digitally as well? I have zero interest in the subject matter, so I don’t think I’ll be seeing it anytime soon. perhaps the Ziegfeld has the new 4K projectors?

MPol – that was most likely film grain you would have seen in 1976, there was no digital at that time (or you were seeing the perforations of the screen sitting that closely). Sadly, the 70s were the beginning of the end of well-photographed films and many films from that time were underlit and had very visible grain.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on December 20, 2008 at 12:24 am

“Che” was shown digitally. I’ll check over on the Ziegfeld page – maybe somebody has mentioned the 4K projector.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on December 20, 2008 at 1:20 am

William on the Ziegfeld page says no – the only commercial NYC theater to have the 4K installed is the Sunshine Cinemas. But whatever the Ziegfeld is using, it sure looked great.

Clarkus on December 21, 2008 at 9:38 am

I think we’re missing the big picture here about digital cinema. We need to look ahead just a bit to the future. This is teething time for digital film. First, since the producers are totally paranoid about piracy, there will be no discs or other recorded media at an individual theater. The programs will be a heavily encrypted signal sent via fiber optic cable. Since this method offers huge bandwidths, it will allow for a very high resolution image. Problems such as pixilation and other projection errors will be solved by the advancing technology and will not be a problem. Secondly, the cinema technology is moving at such a rapid pace, 3D cinema will be a viable venue sooner than we think. 3D is one of the long term goals of producers to get audiences back into the theaters. No home theater system will be able to replicate the experience (at least in the foreseeable future) of a huge high resolution three dimensional image with extraordinary sound that a large theater / movie palace could provide.

MPol on December 23, 2008 at 2:11 am

PeterApruzeese, I totally agree with you that the seventies really were the beginning of the end regardng the movie industry in general, including well-photographed films. I wonder if the grainy film was the beginning of the end of the quality of the film material that was used, also. Thanks for the interesting info, btw.

Giles on December 29, 2008 at 3:21 pm

and yet the promised IMAX screen at Tyson’s Corner has still not been finalized :( what the !@#$ AMC?
And even the few AMC theatres here in Washington that can’t be outfitted to “mini” IMAX specs, you’d think AMC could pony up the cash and outfit more auditoriums with Sony’s 4K LCoS digital systems or even standard 2K 3D units. Mazza Galleria SHOULD at this point have a 3D system, but it doesn’t – with the slew of 3D movies slated this year (that aren’t being DMR’d for IMAX presentation), AMC’s rollout and installation of standard DLP units to theatres is simply pathetic.

Giles on January 17, 2009 at 5:39 pm

of the theatres in the DC area, it appears the IMAX systems can also be used to playback standard DLP movies. With ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ underperforming, those screens are definately adding non-IMAX features to said screen.

Giles on February 9, 2009 at 8:05 pm

I just read that Warner Bros. will actually begin releasing all their movies in 4K for the few Sony digital projection systems that are in the market, if this is the case, and as I mentioned before, maybe AMC should redirect their effort, time and money to Sony’s 4K systems for technology that is superior to IMAX-“2K”-Digital.

Giles on March 3, 2009 at 8:39 pm

AMC are hypocrites in my opinion, news that there promised Tysons Corner IMAX Digital screen is now pushed back some 8 months and given the vague TBD date: ‘sometime in the summer’ – get your priorities sorted out here AMC. I know I’m a broken record on this topic, but AMC’s cred is seriousily lacking.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on March 3, 2009 at 10:18 pm

I really can’t see any reason to get all excited about a theater having diet-max installed (notice I put it in small letters on purpose).

I wish somone would do us the favor of seeing the same movie in real IMAX and in diet-max and then give us a review of the difference in screen size, sound and picture quality. Then I could understand if this is something I should be excited about or not.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, This is CINERAMA!” Lowell Thomas, September 30,1952.

Giles on May 4, 2009 at 2:51 pm

what’s the deal here, I get the sense that the IMAX-Digital conversion has come to a stall – the Tysons' location is now in doubt and I gather isn’t going to happen, has the recession affected other AMC theatres that were part of the overall national installation plan?

moviebuff82 on May 11, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Seems that AMC is going for the all digital route and installing all screens with the 4k technology that has been used on recent summer movies.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 24, 2010 at 10:43 pm

+Not that it would ever happen, but in the perfect world all these big 20 plexes would be no more.We would go back to single screen theatres,have showmanship that has been lacking since the middle 70’s and nice size screens.We don’t need IMAX or any other flashy film conversion.Just a simple movie with a good story.Oh,I forgot Hollywood hasn’t had a decent film in years.Yep,In a perfect world Movie ads would return in Friday’s paper,each theatre fighting for your attention with nice size ads,not phonebook ads that someone mention here on CT.Yep,Most of you don’t even have idea what I am writing about and that is fine I ,along with others from my years in the business know what I mean.

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