Thursday, April 9, 2015

Reel Facts & Opinions: The Big Screen Awakens

This week, a new and perhaps underappreciated development came out of Disney, who announced that they have renewed their deal with IMAX to release their slate of movies up to and including the year 2017. This means that this year’s STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS, and the upcoming as-yet untitled EPISODE VIII, and the spin-off ROGUE ONE, will be released in IMAX.

The deal will also include Marvel’s ANT-MAN, DR. STRANGE, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2, and the third solo THOR film…not to mention Pixar’s FINDING DORY, TOY STORY 4, and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 5.

The IMAX format has the ability to capture and display images of far greater resolution and size than traditional film systems (35mm and digital). In the past decade, many feature films have been upgraded into IMAX format, while some, including THE FORCE AWAKENS, have been partially shot in IMAX. 

For STAR WARS fans, this is certainly exciting news…because let’s face it, this is a film franchise that was meant for the big screen. The original film in 1977 was run on IMAX-sized screens, so in a way the Saga is truly coming home. If successful, it could very well inspire other filmmakers to embrace the format which has been laying around for decades and is seeing a minor resurgence. Director Christopher Nolan has been doing his part in the comeback; filming his own THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012) and INTERSTELLAR (2014) partially in IMAX.

It is important for audiences to know the difference between a true IMAX screen and what cinema multiplexes try to pass off as IMAX (often called LIE-MAX). While a LIE-MAX screen may still be bigger than the five-story height of true IMAX, it is still bigger than the standard screen in any given theatre. But still, this can be a very healthy move for the industry. In an age where the average lazy-ass is satisfied with watching movies on a five-inch portable device (ugh), anything that provides incentive to experience all films as they were meant to be seen….on the big screen…is a vital one. 

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