Bad news on the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ front. While diehards have already snapped up their tickets to opening night, there’s some who won’t be getting what they expected: Most won’t be seeing the movie in its full glory, the way director J.J. Abrams filmed it.
Abrams shot part of the movie in 70mm celluloid– basically the highest definition film stock currently possible, in a wider 2.20:1 ratio, as he called it, the “best format ever.”
In 2014, the director enthusiastically declared, “The opportunity to have an action sequence for [‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’] done in IMAX’s natural format was too delicious an idea to pass up. As a filmgoer, it’s something I want to see.” (For the record, the sequence is of Rey, Finn and BB-8 in the Millennium Falcon evading a fleet of TIE Fighters.)
There are 370-400 IMAX screens showing ‘The Force Awakens’ but out of those, only 18 are showing it in the 70mm format. That’s not a typo. One, eight. (Don’t shoot the messenger!)
The major problem is that out of the fewer than 400 IMAX theaters showing it, the majority of them are DIGITAL theaters that aren’t equipped for the 70mm celluloid format. It turns out that most IMAX theaters actually retrofitted existing theaters with digital IMAX projectors, which isn’t really the high definition most think they are getting when they buy the more expensive IMAX tickets. The images viewed are actually smaller and in lower res than true IMAX. (It’s unaffectionately referred to as LieMAX and is intentionally not something that theaters freely divulge.)
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the two formats:
On top of that (as if that weren’t enough), some theaters that ARE equipped for 70mm are NOT showing ‘The Force Awakens’ in that format. Why? 3D.
Abrams is not really a champion of 3D and hasn’t shot any of his movies that way. The ones that have been in 3D have been post-converted. That includes ‘The Force Awakens’. Therefore, this movie is not available in 3D 70mm.
So most of the few theaters that can show movies in 2D 70mm celluloid are choosing not to in favor of Digital 3D because most fans would rather see it that way… and pay the extra premium to do so. 2D IMAX tickets cost about $15 each. 3D tickets are $20, for the same seats in the same theater. So it only makes fiscal sense for these theaters to go with the option that will make them the most money.
Unfortunately, 3D is not the format in which Abrams shot ‘The Force Awakens’. 70mm 2D was. So ultimately, only those seeing it in one of the 18 theaters showing it that way are going to see the director’s true vision.
Will you be one of them?
Here is a listing of the theaters that will be unspooling ‘The Force Awakens’ in IMAX 2D 15/70mm Film Projection:
McWane Center IMAX Dome Theatre – Birmingham
IMAX, U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville
Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum – San Jose
Museum of Discovery & Science AutoNation IMAX – Ft. Lauderdale
IMAX Dome, Museum of Science & Industry – Tampa
IMAX, Indiana State Museum – Indianapolis
Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center of Iowa – Des Moines
Branson’s IMAX, Entertainment Complex – Branson
St. Louis Science Center OMNIMAX Theatre – St. Louis
Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute– Philadelphia
Lockheed Martin IMAX, National Air & Space Museum
Yes, Abrams’ intended version of the new ‘Star Wars’ will only be shown in eight of the United States plus Washington DC. Not one theater in New York, but two each in Alabama, Florida and Missouri?
In addition, the movie will be available in IMAX 3D with Laser, an even newer technology at these theaters:
TCL Chinese Theatres IMAX – Hollywood
AMC Metreon 16 & IMAX – San Francisco
AMC Universal CityWalk Stadium 19 & IMAX – Universal City
Sunbrella IMAX 3D Theatre, Jordan’s Furniture Reading – Reading
Scotiabank Toronto & IMAX – Toronto
Airbus IMAX, Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center – Chantilly
Boeing IMAX, Pacific Science Center – Seattle
(Unfortunately, I am unfamiliar with this format, so I don’t know how it improves the IMAX experience.)
The question for fans now becomes which format would you prefer? 3D IMAX or 2D 70mm projection? Have you already bought your tickets and if so did you get them to the right format? What do you make of this situation?
Source: Screen Crush