The latest victim of the ‘IMAX’ racket — me!

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If you Google “IMAX” and “fraud” you get 3,500,000 hits, among them some very interesting and very angry postings.

I just found this out today, 48 hours after a visit to the “IMAX Experience” screen at the AMC Loews Kips Bay theater on the East Side in Manhattan.

It was a Saturday night screening and the place was mobbed.

I’ve been to other IMAX theaters — we have one in Connecticut at the Maritime Museum in Norwalk — and, frankly, I wondered how they could have added an IMAX theater to the Kips Bay multiplex without major construction.

Tickets were $6 more than the standard $13 (and $3 more than the current surchage for a regular 3D movie). The movie was “Thor” and I thought it would be fun to see this comic book extravaganza on a screen three times larger than the multiplex average.

Imagine my surprise when we entered the auditorium and the screen was no bigger than the larger screens in most New York multiplexes. The picture was highly enjoyable, but to charge $19 for it seemed like extortion to me (I would have complained to the manager, but a very nice friend was treating me to the movie – I was bummed about his too extravagant gesture).

For IMAX to lend its name to this deception is the most egregious misuse of a movie process trade name that I’ve ever run across. In the old days, when you saw a picture in “Cinerama” — a long defunct process that was popular in the 1950s and 1960s — you knew you would be seeing a film on a screen three times as wide as average.

I thought ‘IMAX’ meant a screen as big as the one in Norwalk or the one at the AMC Lincoln Square theater on the Upper West Side (which is one of the best places in New York to see a film).

Little did I know that the Kips Bay deception is just one example of a nationwide fraud being perpetrated by IMAX.

One of the most informative exposes of this awful trend came in at the top of my Google search and ran on the New York magazine website two summers ago:

“When you pay an extra $5 to see Star Trek: The IMAX Experience, you probably expect Captain Kirk’s head to be projected onto a screen the size of a zeppelin hangar, as any reasonable person would. But citizen-journalist (and ‘Parks and Recreation’ star) Aziz Ansari has uncovered something startling — were you aware that the IMAX Corporation is using its name on screens as tiny as 28’ x 58’, which are really no bigger than many regular screens?”

“It’s true! Apparently the company has made the inexplicable decision not to differentiate between its new digital-projection systems — which feature sophisticated sound systems and supposedly superior picture quality, but normal-size screens — and the enormous screens it’s been building since the seventies (‘We don’t think of [IMAX] as the giant screen — it is the best immersive experience on the planet,’ IMAX CEO Darth Vader told shareholders last September). So, when you buy a more expensive ticket to see a movie in IMAX, you may not realize you’re paying an IMAX-size premium for a regular-size screen until you walk into the theater, as a disappointed Ansari did yesterday in Burbank (he was given two free passes after complaining to a manager and explaining how many Twitter followers he has).”

“Ansari is calling for a boycott of IMAX screens (both fake and real) and suggests an alternate name for the company’s digital-projection system (“BULLSHIT IMAX”). Even though we can’t afford IMAX tickets anyway, we are glad he brought this to our attention.”

Joe Meyers

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6 Responses

  1. Nick says:

    this is so true. When I walked into the Imax in Manchester Ct I want to walk out and get a refund. The screen is no bigger than regular screen.
    And that was the only time they got to extort the money from my pocket.

  2. DJPeebs says:

    This is exactly how NOT to brand your fine products and throw away decades of hard work. How dare they take their audience for granted. I am appalled an insulted by their sheer greed and idiocy!

  3. Justin says:

    SOOOOOOOOOO TRUE!!

    I remember hearing that Edwards in Fairfield had a new IMAX and we paid extra to see it. Little did we know that the screen was basically no different. That is sneeky marketing to me.

  4. andy says:

    yep- i found out the same way – to me IMAX should equal “The Planetarium” experience.

  5. Joe says:

    Hey Andy, Thanks for the comment. IMAX was originally meant to be an abbreviation of Image maximum and for more than 30 years the term was only applied to really gigantic screens. The first one I went to was at the Smithsonian in D.C. in the 1970s and then they built them at places like the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. When the corporation expanded into commercial venues a decade or so ago the auditoriums and screens were just as big as they were at the museum sites (i.e. the one I mentioned up by Lincoln Center). I didn’t know how small a screen they would call ‘IMAX’ until Saturday night. I will now, indeed, check first on the screen size before shelling out $6. extra.

  6. andy says:

    if you google “dolby” and “fraud” you get 11mm hits . .”apple” and “fraud”= 99mm .. duh, nice way to grab headlines . .maybe you should have checked the theater first! HD is HD, weather it is on a 12″ or a 72″ TV