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Imax, Warner Deal Targets Blockbusters

30 minutes ago


By ANDY GEORGIADES


TORONTO - Imax Corp.'s latest deal with Warner Bros. Pictures is a giant leap forward in the company's crusade to make its large-format cinemas a release window for Hollywood blockbuster films.


Imax has said that the simultaneous release of first-run Hollywood event films in its theaters is the "holy grail" for the company, and it's something investors have been anxiously anticipating for some time.


Although "The Matrix Reloaded" will open in Imax theaters two or three weeks after its general release May 15, "The Matrix Revolutions" will open Nov. 5 in both conventional and Imax cinemas. That will mark the first time that a live-action Hollywood film is released concurrently in both large- and standard-sized formats, known in the industry as a day-and-date release.


Richard Gelfond, co-chief executive of Imax, said the deal is a "watershed event" for the company.


He explained that ensuring a steady supply of content from the studios, especially commercial Hollywood blockbuster films, is an integral part of the overall business strategy — selling Imax theater systems.


The other component was the development of a product that would lower the costs to exhibitors of installing an Imax system in their multiplexes, which has already been accomplished with the Imax MPX system, announced in February.


Gelfond said that "The Matrix" movies met all the criteria for the first Imax day-and-date release. "It's a visual spectacle. It has the kind of soundtrack that will take advantage of our 12,000-watt sound system," he said. "And most importantly, they're really the franchise movies of the year. There wasn't a better film than The Matrix, and in fact, we got a little lucky that there were two of them."


He said Imax had been negotiating with Warner Bros. for the third installment only, but when certain executives saw the tests, they were so impressed by the "visual splendor" that it turned into a two-picture deal.


Unlike the Imax digital re-mastering releases last year of "Apollo 13" and "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones," "The Matrix" films won't have to be shortened, as Imax reel units can now support film lengths of 150 minutes.


This isn't the first time Imax and Warner Bros. have made a deal. In February, the two announced a collaboration on a new Imax 3-D documentary film about auto racing. Imax has previously announced film deals with Walt Disney Co., Universal Pictures, a unit of Vivendi Universal, and 20th Century Fox, a unit of Fox Entertainment Group Inc.


"If ever there was an indication that our business is migrating to Hollywood, I think the fact that more than half the studios will have released Imax films in a one-year period of time validates our strategy," he said.


Gelfond said research shows customers love Imax and are willing to pay a premium and drive further for the experience, which is another incentive for studios to adopt Imax digital re-mastering technology.


Shares of Imax rose 77 cents, or nearly 13 percent, in midday trading Wednesday to $6.83 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
 

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Woo hoo!


Here's a second question: has anyone tried DVD versions of movies shot for IMAX? I really enjoyed Everest in the IMAX theater and have wondered if the experience can be translated to a home theater.


Randy
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by CptnRandy
Woo hoo!


Here's a second question: has anyone tried DVD versions of movies shot for IMAX? I really enjoyed Everest in the IMAX theater and have wondered if the experience can be translated to a home theater.


Randy
Randy,

Yes and no ! I've seen several IMAX films at IMAX theaters then at home on LD and later DVD and although they look very good ,this is my sons elementary school round ball team compared to the NBA.


Art
 

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I think a lot more people would watch IMAX if the ticket was the same price as a normal movie. IMAX tickets cost around $10. Some people don't want to spend $10 to see a movie. However I do plan to watch both of the Matrix on IMAX.
 

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$10 for Imax? Where do you live? Here, a theater on a weekend night is around that, and it can go up to $14 in good theaters...
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Art Sonneborn
Randy,

Yes and no ! I've seen several IMAX films at IMAX theaters then at home on LD and later DVD and although they look very good ,this is my sons elementary school round ball team compared to the NBA.


Art
Ah, it's as I feared - couldn't really see how it would, but if I was a reasonable man, I wouldn't have built a home theater!


Thanks, Art.


Randy
 

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To see a Hollywood film in IMAX is an event. This kind of ticket price is not a lot at all IMO. Like I said, AOTC in IMAX was the most impressive film presentation I'd ever seen and by a significant margin. I would have paid twice that. This isn't something I'll be doing every weekend but a few times a year. When I saw the trailer for the Lion King in IMAX the images displayed were beyond any of my superlatives. Couple the sound , image size and here is the big one IMAGE QUALITY with a good film and it simply doesn't get any better. What are you willing to pay for that type of experience is the question I guess ?


Art
 

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I have serious questions about the benefits of displaying digital films this way. I had a long debate yesterday with a friend, and basically this is the argument:


These films are shot digitally, and as such have a set resolution. Unlike film, which has infinite information (from a digital standpoint) which can be sampled at higher and higher dpi for "remastering", the original digital "master" is finite. Simple scaling (just like our DVDs) can add a measure of detail, but that's it. IMAX can add enhancements and filters, but how much will this really improve a digitally produced film?


For non-IMAX standard 35mm to 70mm print conversion, they blow up the negative. The IMAX process is meant to improve upon this by digitally enhancing the film - color correcting for IMAX color temperature, keeping the grain from getting too large, and sharpening the print.


For "IMAX-ing" standard 35mm film, this process is probably groundbreaking. However, I think it is probably in large part redundant for digital to 70mm conversion. Making a non-IMAX 70mm print from digital shouldn't really impose the same problems the 35-70 process does. I say this because you could scale the original in the digital domain first. This would take care of both the sharpness problem and the grain bloat. It would also be trivial to apply some filters, etc... - so my point is how will the IMAX movie be appreciably better than a regular 70mm print release? At that point we're just counting on the IMAX filters being better.


Sure, the IMAX projectors are supposed to produce less judder, and IMAX theaters will be using an uncompressed digital soundtrack. But I can get both of those benefits by going to the DLP cinema, which is where we should be watching this film in the first place!!


I'm reserving final judgement until I see the film in IMAX, but suffice to say I'm skeptical. Oh, and I'm making the journey to NYC to see it at the Ziegfeld - "It's the only way to fly" ;)


http://www.infocomm.org/Newsnetwork/...D0AE2DDE0D43DC



Ron
 

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Hrmmm - been looking for DLP information on Matrix Reloaded... I think I was wrong about it being filmed digitally. I could have sworn I'd heard that somewhere along the way. Darn it! Anyone know for sure?



Ron
 

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Technically, your arguments of what is to be gained through the IMAX presentation compared to standard 35mm projection seems to be sound. The difference though, must still come from actually seeing it. I will admit up front that I did not have the opportunity to see AOTC in a first run theater but wow! The experience reminded me of the awe that was inspired when I was younger going to the movies. I know that I will not be able to stop myself from seeing The Matrix Reloaded this way.:)



Art
 
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