Aziz Ansari Calls for IMAX Boycott Due to Screen Size Issue
If you saw Star Trek in IMAX over the weekend, you helped the franchise reboot break the record for best opening in IMAX history. But if you saw the movie in IMAX at a Regal or AMC theater, you may have also been part of an "alleged scam," at least according to actor/comedian Aziz Ansari (seen in I Love You, Man and on NBC's Parks and Recreation). Ansari has posted a rant against these chains and their deceptive "IMAX" branding on his own blog, and he's calling for a boycott of all Regal and AMC cinemas, as well as all other IMAX locations. This is serious, and there is an internet-wide debate about it, so read on for more.
REGAL, AMC, AND IMAX - YOU ARE LIARS!
Boycott them. F*ck them for taking advantage of people and charging them $5 extra. If you're in LA, go to the Arclight from now on, and f*ck the IMAX screens (fake and real).
Ansari's complaint is that the digital "IMAX" screens at some theaters are significantly smaller than they should be. This is particularly common at new cinemas and cinemas with newly installed IMAX screens. In a diagram from an LF Examiner article linked to by Ansari, the difference in screen sizes are: 76 x 97 ft. and 28 x 58 ft. As it turns out, the comparison is done using two locations in Manhattan, a difference I complained about on this site earlier this year. Of course, these two theaters, both owned by AMC, charge differentially for the difference (I think it's only about a $1 price difference, though).
The best part of Ansari's post is the dialogue exchange between himself and a manager at a Burbank AMC theater, which he shares with presumed embellishment. But the most notable line has to do with Ansari's twitter following. And due to that following (he has indeed tweeted about the boycott, and "IMAX" is now a twitter trending topic), it's not surprising that many other people, including prominent movie bloggers, are relaying Ansari's experience and call for protest across the web.
"While I haven't really been on board with the IMAX upconversions of Hollywood films," writes Peter Sciretta at SlashFilm. "I've been a huge supporter of the format and the company. But digital IMAX is not something I can support."
As you can tell, Sciretta seems to only call for a boycott of the digital IMAX, as does Harry Knowles over at Aint It Cool News. On his site, after comparing the IMAX brand dilution to direct-to-DVD sequels of Disney animated classics, he encourages moviegoers to stay away from the smaller screens only:
"So - before checking out that NEW Imax theater - the first test you should give it is this," Harry says. "Stand outside the theater. Does it look like a 70+ foot screen could fit in there? If you're not sure - walk away. Until IMAX stands for what it used to - I have to caution you good folks - because - FAKE IMAX isn't worth the price jump. Real IMAX is worth it!"
"Like its catchphrase suggests," writes Tim Gomez at Cinema Blend, "IMAX is meant to be an 'experience,' and higher quality sound and a somewhat bigger screen doesn't really constitute that. So I say fight on, Aziz. You should write a Human Giant skit about it."
"So be warned," adds Seth Abramovitch at Movieline. "If you see the screening listed as IMAX Digital, you're not getting anything more than you would get at a regular state-of-the-art cineplex, but you'll be paying close to 50% more for the experience. And as anyone knows, watching Spock develop a Vulcan semi-chubby bidding Uhura farewell in the transporter chamber just doesn't have the same impact unless it's projected on a screen the size of the Hoover Dam."
Internet-wide attention to Ansari's complaint has also come from as diverse film sites as Living in Cinema, NY Mag's Vulture, Monsters and Critics, The House Next Door and even Deadline Hollywood Daily (where Nikki Finke ignores Ansari's post, instead citing the seven-month-old LF Examiner piece). Obviously, considering the millions of dollars put into these screens, Regal and AMC (as well as IMAX) aren't likely going to be concerned with widespread ranting in the blogosphere, but a large enough boycott or letter-writing campaign could potentially be effective. Maybe these companies could at least lower their surcharges for their smaller screens, or be more honest about their misleading entertainment offerings.
How will Ansari's call to arms impact your moviegoing activity? Will you stop going to Regal and/or AMC cinemas? Will you at least boycott the smaller and/or digital IMAX locations? Or are you actually satisfied with paying $5 extra for a screen only slightly bigger than an average movie screen? Thoughts?