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Will the Force Be With Star Wars in IMAX?


Written by: Mark Kresser
Date: October 2002

STAR WARS - EPISODE II opens in 58 theaters across North America on November 1st. What are the ramifications of its release in IMAX Theaters?


Category: Columns

As soon as news broke of the release of STAR WARS: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (main film page) in IMAX, theaters across the U.S. (and probably throughout the world) were bombarded by people wondering if Yoda, Annakin and the others would make it to their local theater, on screens up to eight stories high. (Click here for a list of all theaters showing the film. At this time the film is only being released in the U.S. and Canada, although that could change in the future.) Here at Big Movie Zone, emails to the editor have indicated the highest level of fan interest for a single film since the site launched nearly two years ago. The legion of fans likely includes all of the following groups: (a) Star Wars fanatics (b) Big Movie fans excited or at least curious to see how such a film translates to the Giant Screen (c) those who have never seen a Big Movie, but might think that finally there’s something entertaining enough to draw them in.

Will Star Wars Revolutionize Big Movies?
At first glance, it would seem that Star Wars would benefit the cause of IMAX/Big Movies. More people come – theaters win. IMAX Corporation wins due to heightened awareness of its brand, increased theater revenues, and publicization and validation of its new DMR(TM) process. (Click here for an explanation of how the DMR converts film from 35mm to 70mm IMAX format.) Other producers/distributors? They benefit from more people being exposed to Big Movies, people who presumably will enjoy the experience so much they’ll want to come see their films too.

On the negative side, repurposing could conceivably kill, or at least severely damage, original Big Movie production. The first live-action Hollywood film to be repurposed, Apollo 13, did not receive such a nice welcome from the industry (and some long-time fans) when its release was announced. Quite the contrary, it was billed by some as, at worst, the death of the industry, and at least contrary to the "spirit" of the format. The recent industry conference proved to some that there's plenty of good film product out there without DMR. You want traditional educational/visual? Try Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees. You want a crossover film that clearly entertains as it educates? How about Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk. You think all Big Movies are the same, that everything's a rehashing of something previously seen? Try Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey.

The bottom line is, seeing STAR WARS on giant IMAX screens will likely be a lot of fun. It definitely marks a milestone for the IMAX medium. But the true revolution will occur when someone produces a movie like STAR WARS specifically with the Big Movie Screen in mind – and takes full advantage of the superior size/resolution, sound (and even perhaps 3-D capabilities) offered by Big Movie technology to create something that could never be experienced in the same way on a conventional theater screen.

Agree or Disagree? Click here to weigh in with your opinion!

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