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What It Means

bigImage "Big Movies" is what we call special, oversized films like EVEREST, FANTASIA 2000, and AFRICA: THE SERENGETI, now commonly known by many as IMAX® films. Called "Large-Format" or "Giant-Screen" films by those in the industry, these special features are shot using much bigger-than-standard 70 millimeter film, and displayed in special theaters with giant screens up to 8 stories high, and hundreds of seats in steeply raked rows. The films have the highest resolution in the world, and many of the theaters also have the world's best sound systems. Since the technology's inception in 1971, half a billion people have enjoyed a Big Movie, worldwide. Almost 100 million tickets are sold to Big Movies every year.

The IMAX Corporation is the leading manufacturer of cameras and projectors for this medium, and licenses its name to many independent theaters using IMAX technology to exhibit these films. IMAX also owns and operates a handful of theaters. Other designers and manufacturers of giant-screen cameras, theaters and projection equipment include IWERKS, MEGASYSTEMS, KINOTON, BOARDPERFECT, BALLANTYNE, and ADVANCED IMAGE SYSTEMS (AIS).

While IMAX does produce and distribute many titles in this medium, the majority of Big Movies have been produced by independent producers, and hence are technically not "IMAX Films" any more than a Stephen Spielberg film is "A Panavision® Film" because he used Panavision cameras. IMAX does wish to be proudly associated with those Big Movies it produces and distributes, and those theaters to which it licenses its name and logo.

Big Movies are now played in approximately 350 theaters in more than 24 countries worldwide. The largest of these theaters can hold over 1000 people, but typical theaters seat anywhere from 200-500. The most successful single-screen theaters top 1.5 million in yearly attendance. At present, slightly more than half of the world's Big Movie theaters are located at museums, aquaria or other institutional venues. The rest anchor commercial multiplexes. In recent years, there has been a large growth in the number of commercial venues. The first permanent IMAX projection system was installed over 30 years ago at Ontario Place's Cineshpere in Toronto in 1971.

Big Movie theaters are designed to make viewers a part of the action. The steeply sloped seats bring the audience closer to the screen, so that the size of the image dominates even one's peripheral vision. Combined with razor-sharp image clarity, the result is a "virtual reality"-like experience which immerses the audience in the film. Viewers frequently use such terms as powerful, dynamic, and awe-inspiring to describe the experience.

Big Movies have a loyal audience. According to IMAX 's research, of those who have seen a Big Movie:

  • 2/3 consider IMAX theaters a must-see destination.
  • 96% would recommend the experience to a friend.
  • 88% would go back again and again.

An IMAX Film?

Some consumers may be confused about what the IMAX name signifies, due to the fact that IMAX is both a manufacturer of equipment, and a producer of some large format films.

A film advertised specifically as "An IMAX Film" generally signifies a film produced or distributed by the IMAX Corporation. Films with the label "An IMAX Experience ®" typically have the blessing of IMAX Corporation, though produced by independent entities. (On occasion, some independent producers have attempted to use the IMAX brand name without permission.)

Along with these "IMAX films", all other films produced by independent producers using IMAX or other large format cameras and shown in large-format theaters are known by industry folk as "large format films" or "giant screen films". We call them Big Movies.

IMAX Corporation has no affiliation with this web site, and the opinions reflected herein are in no way to be interpreted as having anything to do with the opinions of the IMAX Corporation. IMAX® is a registered trademark of the IMAX Corporation.