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Citadel Mall Mini-Max

We went to see "Avatar" in IMAX 3-D at the new Citadel Mall IMAX Stadium 16 in Charleston. We had waited a few days to avoid the initial crowds. We chose the early matinee. We were disappointed that there was no discount on the ticket price. Those tickets were pricy for seniors on fixed incomes. No, wait... those tickets were just pricy! Oh, well, it's the latest and greatest entertainment. We were looking forward to another great IMAX experience.

We have enjoyed IMAX from our first experience, in 1984, when we saw "Flyers" at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, to "Polar Express" in IMAX 3-D which we saw in Charleston a few years ago. That is the experience we expected to have when we went to see "Avatar."

The theater was clean and comfortable. When the previews started, we noticed the screen size was a bit smaller than we expected. The screen on the IMAX theater that used to be downtown in Charleston was larger. Were we imagining this?

As it turns out, the new digital IMAX screens are MUCH smaller than the screens in the original film-based IMAX theaters. They have been called "mini-max" and "lie-max" by some disappointed theater goers.

How much smaller, you ask? The screen at the Citadel Mall IMAX Stadium 16 is 48 feet wide. The standard IMAX screen we used to enjoy downtown was 72 feet wide. IMAX Corporation has decided not to differentiate between the older large screens and then new smaller ones. They claim the new digital IMAX systems offer a more immersive experience.

We did some digging and found out we were not alone in our disappointment regarding screen size. We also found out the relative resolution of the picture is lower for digital projection than for IMAX film projection. The bottom line is that theater owners are giving us less and charging us more. Sound familiar?

Overall, we were not impressed by "Avatar" beyond an appreciation for the extraordinary computer generated images. Looking back on the experience, it may be that our unenthusiastic reaction to the movie was, in part, due to the small screen size. It was disappointing at best and dishonest at worst.

For additional reading on IMAX screen sizes, see:

Is IMAX Digital Ripping You Off with Smaller Screens?
at www.cinematical.com

Are Smaller IMAX Screens Worth the Price?
at www.mainstreet.com

And, the Los Angeles Times article:
Should IMAX Tell Moviegoers the Size of Its Screens?

2010 Charleston Film Festival

We presented a short video and discussion on South Carolina's movie theaters at the 2010 Charleston Film Festival. The festival offered competition in various film categories, educational seminars, and focused on local and regional films.

The Charleston Film Festival ran March 10th to March 14th at both Terrace Theaters, the Terrace Theater on James Island, and the Terrace Hippodrome in downtown Charleston.

Palmetto Theater - Columbia, SC - one of the many South Carolina movie theaters shown in our presentation.



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