Originally Posted by Nerva
Basically, how do the various high-end theaters compare? I couldn't care less about how big the seats are or if they recline, and while I do care about sound quality, it is obviously the visual quality that I can see. So how do the various projection schemes and screens stack up?
Here's the State of the Union.
There are three well-defined Premium Large Format cinema experiences: IMAX, Dolby Cinema and China Giant Screen (a Chinese attempt to compete with IMAX).
There are also several PLF formats that aren't really formats at all, just theater chains trying to upsell you on more expensive tickets without paying IMAX or Dolby for a true PLF format. With IMAX and Dolby Cinema you know what you are paying for - competent dual-projector 2D or 3D presentation of an IMAX-mastered DCP (in the case of LieMax), exquisite laser projection (in the case of true IMAX with Laser) or 15/70 IMAX film presentation (still the best image available, should you be lucky enough to live near an IMAX film theatre). And of course Dolby Cinema features both Dolby Atmos sound and Dolby Vision dual projectors with HDR capabilities and incredibly inky blacks in the picture, with the DCP being specifically mastered for Dolby Cinema presentation.
With RTX, MPX, CinemaXD etc there's no explicit promise made as to what you're getting. It'll be a really large screen, and probably very comfortable seats, but the picture and sound are just standard-issue, maybe with an immersive sound format (DTS:X, Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D) thrown in for good measure. I'm not a big fan of these formats, because it seems to me that in *any* auditorium you should have an expectation of a properly calibrated sound system, and an in-focus picture at the correct light level. You shouldn't have to pay extra for that. I'm sure some of the circuits have theater designers and engineers who really care, and are equipping their alphabet-soup auditoriums with best-in-class projectors and sound systems, but there's no guarantee. Best practice is to patronize theaters that you have been to and know are good.