CINEMAGOING in Sheffield took a giant leap forward last week with the opening of an IMAX screen at the Cineworld multiplex at Valley Centertainment in Attercliffe.
The larger and slightly curved screen which aims to fill the viewer’s entire peripheral vision was unveiled at a gala screening of Disney 3D fantasy adventure John Carter.
The £1m investment also provides enhanced clarity of digital projection and digital sound olus customised seating lay-out to maximise the audience’s field-of-view.
At 70ft x 39ft 5in, it is the second biggest digital IMAX screen in the world sited in what is claimed to be the biggest IMAX auditorium with nearly 600 seats.
Crispin Lilly, Cineworld vice president of business affairs, said Sheffield was chosen as one of their first sites to get IMAX as it was one of the busiest cinemas in the country.
It has been installed in the Screen 7 auditorium which locals dubbed The Full Monty. Now they really were getting the full monty in terms of an immersive cinema experience, he said.
You pay an extra £4.50 for the privilege and the cinema is confident that there will be a ready market for the ultimate 3D experience. And the enthusiastic response to the frankly unremarkable opening film, John Carter, would indicate that the sheer scale of the vision does make it especially exciting.
Now cinemagoers can look forward to a regular supply of blockbusters with The Hunger Games next up, followed by superhero ensemble adventure The Avengers and later in the year Men in Black, Amazing Spiderman, new Batman film Dark Knight Rises, the next Bond film Skyfall and The Hobbit.
Larry O’Reilly, IMAX President of Worldwide Sales, who had arrived from Canada for the launch, said the expansion of the format was being driven by film-makers. The studios love it from a marketing perspective, it makes the release of their film something special.
In addition to the slate of new releases there is a programme of remastering older movies. “There are two criteria,” according to O’Reilly. “It should be a a movie by a visionary film-maker and that the process enhances the elements of the storytelling.”
These are not decisions to be taken lightly because it is a painstaking process. Re-mastering Apollo 13 took four months but digital technological advances are expected to speed things up in future.
But here again there is a market for it. Lilly said that over Christmas at Cineworld’s first UK IMAX in Edinburgh they brought back the first Dark Knight and fans flocked to see it again in its new format.
“What you find,” added O’Reilly, “is that real fans will want to see their favourite movie in all its formats and won’t be satisfied until they have seen it in IMAX, 3D and 2D.”
Now that is true movie fandom.