Digital IMAX "can be cinema's silver bullet"

4th Dec 2008 | 14:19

Digital IMAX "can be cinema's silver bullet"

Executive VP spells out the future of film

Digital IMAX will revolutionise cinema going and act as the silver bullet to take movies to a whole new level, according to the company's Executive Vice President Larry O'Reilly.

With Odeon cinemas launching Digital IMAX in Wimbledon and Greenwich cinemas from 5 December, the trial is widely expected to enhance the growing feeling that the big-screen, high-tech viewing experience can bring the cinema back to the forefront of our social calendars.

Digital IMAX was implemented to bring IMAX into the digital era, but the company has been overwhelmed by the positive response to the technology, with nearly half of people preferring the digital to the original experience and 98 per cent preferring it to traditional showings.

"Most importantly 66 per cent said that the IMAX would motivate them to go to the cinema rather than wait at home for the DVD," explains O'Reilly.

"Not only is this digital system unique and dynamic today, but our engineers are already working to improve the system for the future with software upgrades that will allow you to bring new or enhanced experiences to the theatre without having to change the hardware.

"Real time concerts and sporting events that will look like IMAX and IMAX 3D are not that far off at all."

Third dimension of film

Generally when people think of IMAX they think of three dimensional extravaganzas at limited venues dotted around Britain, but the advent of Digital IMAX should make that style of film much more widely available.

"Although 2D presentations are incredible, the system really shows off with Imax 3D," adds O'Reilly.

"Because we dramatically increase the field of view, the filmmaker has a much bigger stage to move the sets and characters resulting in a much more intimate form of 3D relative to other systems.

"Combined with increased light levels to build larger screens IMAX is able to create an experience like no other."

Uncanny valley - but big success

With the likes of Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg and, perhaps most famously, James Cameron all getting behind 3D, O'Reilly explains that it was an animated film that lit the blue touch paper in persuading the industry that IMAX was a potential money-maker.

"As Jeffrey Katzenberg has often quoted, the industry really woke up about the power of 3D based on the box office success of The Polar Express.

"Although only one per cent of screens showing the screen were IMAX they accounted for 25 per cent of the film's box office.

"Suddenly in Hollywood everyone thought that 3D was going to be the silver bullet to take the industry to a whole new level, but what they soon leaned was that, although audiences preferred the new experience, not every title will be a box office champion just because it's presented in 3D.

"On the other hand, a real tent pole blockbuster like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when you add the magic of IMAX 3D the box office results are incredible."

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