"Gravity" was the biggest movie of the weekend, raking in over $55 million at the box office. And with lots of 3D IMAX screenings, it was also, literally, the biggest movie of the weekend, playing on extra large screens across the country.
Several movie goers paid extra to see the film in IMAX. But beware, there are two very different kinds of IMAX screens, and chances are you saw "Gravity" on the not so good kind.
When you think of IMAX, you think of giant screens. Screens that are several stories tall. But over the last several years, IMAX has been slapping their name on screens that are only slightly bigger than a traditional movie screen. Instead of building a theater specifically for IMAX, they’re going into mall multiplexes and retrofitting existing theaters.
Critics call these retrofitted theaters, LIEMAX. They now make up the bulk of IMAX theaters in the country. For example, there are nine IMAX theaters in Arizona, but only three are the big IMAX theaters, and one of those shows mainstream movies. The others are at a science center and the Grand Canyon.
To most movie goers, IMAX connotes a grand experience. But IMAX contends size doesn’t matter; it’s about viewing angle, quality of sound, and picture, and that IMAX theater in your multiplex probably is a better experience than any other screen there.
So, it’s not that you shouldn't see a film in one of these smaller IMAX theaters. Just know in advance what you’re getting into, so you won’t be let down. When you see the word “IMAX,” the only thing that’s guaranteed to be bigger is the ticket price.