EDITORIALS

Aziz Ansari Calls for IMAX Boycott Due to Screen Size Issue

by
May 12, 2009
Source: Aziz Ansari's Blog

AMC Citywalk IMAX Cinemas

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?

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  • CrZyJmE
    I totally have to agree. I saw Star Trek, Friday night, at an AMC iMax for $15.00, and on top of that, had to drive 25 miles just to get there. These theaters are nothing like the REAL iMax. Don't waste your money!
  • Trey
    I haven't been to the Imax theatre in a long time
  • Al
    as he should. if you are paying to see imax, you wanna see it on a typical imax screen. And i also blame the imax company itself, no doubt it knew of this occurrence.
  • QuietMisterT
    The only IMAX near my is at a science place and so I've never seen a theatrical film on IMAX. Though my preferred theater has freaking huge screens to begin with.
  • teyhtr
    Nice picture Alex... the IMAX at universal city is actually legit kekeke. I just find it funny that's all ;p
  • Nevin
    Frankly, I'm disappointed that someone didn't bring attention to this earlier. Trying to charge the same, or even close to the same, price for this weak as hell "digital" IMAX sucks. It simply isn't worth the money, so you won't see me buying a ticket to one. I think the larger issue here is that there seems to be some vaguely false advertisement going on here. Theaters I have gone to that have digital IMAX (even though I have never attended a show in one) are not upfront about the differences. Until theaters decide to stop attempting to deceive buyers I plan on boycotting any such theaters, and I suggest that anyone who believes in their rights as a consumer try to avoid these establishments too. P.S. Having been to several true IMAX movies at the Metreon in San Francisco, my closest location, I can say that the true experience is well worth the $15.
  • Ripper
    I go to an IMAX AMC right by my house for all my Moives. I have only seen one Film on the IMAX screen Watchmen. Needless to say I has not a Happy Camper. I will still go to AMC but Fuck that LIEMAX.
  • Itri
    Yes I agree with his sentiment, it was a rip off. But there is one positive: the sound system is absolutely astonishing! Now if only the screen size was right - I certainly won't go to another IMAX at AMC until this is fixed.
  • Cat
    I planned on transformers in IMAX but this worries me.
  • ObiWop
    I don't do Imax because the closest real Imax to me is 3 and a half hours away. Definitely not an option for me.
  • zach
    I also planned on seeing transformers in IMAX..... but now.... the local OMSI has IMAX in it but i doubt they will have Transformers 2 and now that i think of it the other IMAX place sucks
  • 16
    This is awesome. I work at that Burbank AMC. I'm gonna try to figure out which manager dealt with Aziz and give him/her shit for it.
  • Richard
    The closest IMAX to where I am is 168 miles away.
  • RStewie
    I wanted to see some of this summer's released in IMAX, but now, not so much. The expense and headache of trying to figure out which IMAX is a REAL IMAX is not worth it (there isn't an IMAX in my town, so there would have been travel involved).
  • DukePhoenix
    I went to one of these IMAX certified cinemas down here in Australia and I actually prefer it. We also have a normal IMAX screen, freaking huge. The problem with the original IMAX was the print/projector was dirty, if you don't get the back middle seats look forward to having no idea what is happening during any camera movement and finally they're blowing up 35mm so large that the picture is soft. I was however disappointed when I went to see Watchmen in the IMAX certified cinema, the screen was bigger than normal but nothing like the original IMAX. However as soon as the film started I was amazed at the picture and sound quality - nothing short of stunning. It was flawless. $22 Australian is a fair chunk of change to have this "experience" but when you have a choice of $16 for a normal ticket or $22 for this "IMAX" experience for something like Transformers 2, I know which one I'll be taking.
  • Stevo
    Is there a list or anything that would tell me where the "real" Imax theaters are? I saw the Watchmen in Imax and I am assuming it is one of these "digital faux-Imax" theaters. I remember being incredibly let down by the experience because everything I had heard about Imax is that it is cream your pants good. I really wasn't impressed by it. One of the original Imax theaters isn't that far from me now and I am assuming it is probably a "true" theater but I don't want to risk it.
  • Andrew
    Why do I not feel surprised that theater chains are doing this?
  • AKUMARED
    I have been to a Regal Imax here in Simi Valley california and let me tell you that it was a let down. The screen is just a normal size movie screen and let me tell you that screens here at Regal are a lot smaller compere to the ones in San Fernando Valley. So in other words i have probably seen the smallest Imax screen in California. Don't bother spending the extra money on those fake Imax screens. :(
  • Joshua
    You can go to bigmoviezone.com, put in your area, find your theater. Click it and then look under Theater Stats. If it says "1570" beside scree format, than it's a real IMAX. If it says "Digital" than it's one of these faux IMAX's.
  • JimD
    I couldnt agree more. Its funny I was just discussing this with co-workers the other day. Apparently there is a new Regal theatre in town that is branded IMAX. I had no idea but was totally excited that we had an IMAX theatre in our neighborhood. I decide to go check it out and watch Star Trek. When I walked in the theatre I thought to myslef this isnt IMAX? I was a bit disgruntled about it. I'm glad this issue is being addressed because it is deceptive. These theatres should not be called IMAX or they need a different branding for Digital or something. The name IMAX is not appropriate.
  • DavidK
    I went to an IMAX theater at AMC Emeryville, CA for Watchmen. I paid the extra price. I was not impressed and felt it was a huge waste of money. The screen was slightly longer than normal and the picture quality was standard. I won't IMAX another movie ever. Also 3D movies are a waste of money also. God forbid you have to wear glasses over glasses and the effects are not that impressive (maybe because of the glasses).
  • Dr Robotnik
    Easy way to figure out if you're at a legit IMAX theater: If you look at the screen and are stricken with fright, you're in the right place. The screen should be no smaller than your average Japanese monster, and no bigger than your average Transformers sequel villain.
  • 16
    Guys, just call your theatre if you're not sure whether or not it's a legit IMAX. Ask if it's digital, and if that's the case, steer clear.
  • dizzle12
    Why are people blaming Regal and AMC. Blame the IMAX company for installing these screens at these theaters and for allowing smaller screens to be branded with the same IMAX name as the bigger ones.
  • LSP
    I say if you're stupid enough to fall for it, suck it up. IMAX is way overrated though just like 3D is. When are they going to start showing high def movies? Let's get that worked on shall we?
  • bcbenzel
    LSP - Many Carmike Cinemas are already showing movies in HD via the DLP Digital Projectors. I saw Star Trek on one and it was absolutely amazing! Far better than the IMAX for much less.
  • Aaron
    Hmmm, interesting. I sometimes go to the Regal Cinemas Pointe Orlando IMAX and their screen size is 65x85 (if I remember correctly) - and bigmoviezone.com lists them as "Digital" format. That screen size is significantly closer to the Lincoln IMAX screen size as listed at http://www.lfexaminer.com/20081016.htm. I've always been impressed with the size & quality at that theatre - and I don't mind paying a premium for the few movies I see there. This is definitely a "your miles may vary" situation - but people should be informed about the difference (or lack thereof).
  • Moviegimp
    Thanks for bringing this issue up. I had no idea there was a difference but was kind of wondering. I had talked to someone who saw Beowulf at the new "IMAX" theater not to far away. I asked him if the screen was seven stories tall like at Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio and he said it was big but not anywhere that big. I checked that website big movie zone and it turns out that out of the five IMAX theaters in Michigan that show commercial movies only the one near me is a digital one, figures. So the closest real IMAX is in Lansing and one and half away instead of thirty minutes. It's a total scam charging more money for these digital theaters that aren't true IMAX. I support the boycott and will tell everyone to do the same.
  • drew
    The Marcus Theater chain has one of the those "slightly bigger" screens that was built on a few years ago here in Minnesota. They don't pretend to call it an IMAX though like it sounds like is going on. It only costs a dollar more and they call it their "UltraScreen." It must cost a bit for a theater to get the licensing to call it an IMAX, ensuring more revenue via name recognition. But Marcus is not lying to its customers or sipping the IMAX koolaid. Its a nice big screen, but no IMAX thats for sure.
  • http://movies.iconocritic.com/ peloquin
    For the past two IMAX films I've wanted to see (Watchmen and Star Trek) I was told by the Cinemark theater which usually shows all big blockbusters in IMAX that they're only showing IMAX films for certain studios now. Anyone have any idea why Cinemark is only showing certain films in IMAX now? It really sucks because all they've been showing there for the past couple months is Monsters vs Aliens.
  • zeldaprimed
    I went ahead and skipped all the comments, but I went to an AMC theater in Dallas for Watchmen also... when I was at the ticket thingy, the lady asked me if I wanted to watch it in IMAX. I was like "WTF" hellz yeah....I was waiting to walk into a super huge room that I didn't know about (I go here often so I was wondering if they built a new IMAX room or something) turns out they just used their biggest room to fit more people in. No huge screen or anything.(They had previously used this room for the movie Twilight, which wasn't advertised as an IMAX film tihngy at this location) I was kind of letdown, cuz I actually felt like they were scamming the moviegoers into an IMAX experience, when all they did was charge us an extra $5, just to be in a bigger room to fit more people in...(I think it was $5, ill have to check the stub when i get back home)
  • http://www.skonmovies.com Sean Kelly
    The AMC theatre in downtown Toronto, where I saw Star Trek had something called "Enhanced Theatre Experience," which has the premium price and the screen was bigger than usual, but definitely not IMAX size.
  • http://twitter.com/petitionguy Oyez O.
    I don't think AMC/Regal are going to change anything until they think it's going to hurt their bottom line. Please sign my petition here to tell them we're not going to put up with this crap: http://bit.ly/liemaxpetition
  • hateconmen
    It is deceptive because anyone who has been to a REAL Imax at a museum knows that the screen is huge. When I paid extra to see "The Day the Earth Stood Still" at the NEW IMAX Theatre much closer to my house in Seattle than the Pacific Science Center I was thrilled. Until of course I walked in and found a screen imperceptibly different from a normal multi-plex screen. Hell, it wasn't even as big as the Cinerama (who got my money for Star Trek last week). I will never go to a fake IMAX. I expect quality sound and picture when I go to any theatre but I am not going to pay extra to get something marginally better than a normal theatre. Personally speaking the sound and picture quality for the showing "Stood Still" did not register as having anything more to offer. GO AZIZ!!!
  • jman571
    @ 32 That's complete bullshit. Thanks for letting me know about that, and in the future I will stay away from AMC and tell my friends to as well. I have seen both 300 & The Dark Knight in true 1570 IMAX at the two legit locations in Toronto. Famous Players Colossus Woodbridge IMAX® Theatre Scotiabank Theatre Toronto REAL IMAX IS COMPLETELY WORTH IT. Besides Famous Players/Cineplex knows how to appeal to its customers and I have several free movie passes from them. I look forward to perhaps seeing Start Trek in IMAX some time soon. I've already seen it a regular theatre, but I planned on seeing it a second time, and the increased cost of REAL IMAX is worth it. The sound quality is also perceptively better than normal cinema as well, with vibrating bass sound and crystal clear audio. However, my beef with the movie industry is that I'm still waiting to see more movies filmed in true IMAX format (70mm, right?) I understand the limitations of the format due to the bulkiness of the camera and the ridiculous volume of film needed, but seeing the few scenes of Dark Knight filmed in true IMAX format, sealed the deal for me, as I have never seen anything so clear before, I have a blu-ray player at home and 1080p can be left to choke in the dust that IMAX left behind. Hopefully, in a decade or so, digital cameras will be powerful enough to film at an equivalent IMAX quality, and so we can enjoy movies like that from now on. Unfortunately, I'm afraid this may fall victim to the "it's good enough-itis" that Blu-Ray and HD is falling victim too. But the difference between DVD & 1080p format compared to the difference between 35mm and 70mm theatre is like night and day. There is NO denying the difference when a giant ass screen is placed in front of you with a state-of-the-art sound system as well.
  • Eugene Tsai
    I also agree with Aziz Ansari's sentiments... I went to Monsters vs Aliens at the Hamilton IMAX in Noblesville, IN a few weeks ago, and was disappointed with the pseudo IMAX experience that was offered.
  • krzzykorean
    First, I would like to say, the IMAX experience is what you make it. If you go to the theater to intentionally complain, knowing that it's not the "real IMAX", then you're an idiot. IMAX is not only about the size of the screen. Truely, IMAX is all about the picture clearity and super sound features. I used to work for Regal Entertainment Group at one of their "true" IMAX locations, and I have to admit, even some of the customers there were misinformed about a lot of things. Don't go off half-cocked just because you were to to cheap or to stupid to look into finding the "IMAX Experience" you had in your mind. When you first get to the theater of any kind, don't just "ASSUME" that they are all the same. I don't think there are very many people who would argue that standard 35mm film is the same as digital...DUH, not even close. So, the stupid notion that these "mini MAX" and the original "IMAX" are the same...well, let's just say, it's not rocket science. Ok, next... "Digital IMAX". 1. Almost every movie in this modern age are shot in digital with digital effects cameras. 2. IMAX format is digital. 3. IMAX film is 70mm film stock moving at astonishing rate. 4. Digital projection or projectors are completely different than digital film. 5. IMAX pricing-it simply cost more to make a separate print and sound, that's why it cost more. most people don't realize the risk of a flop, or the money loss. 6. Here's one for all you smart people... IMAX is a Canadian based company! 7. The price of the IMAX tickets, actually all tickets, have many factors. Price increases are due to loss at the box office, whether it's because of refunds, sneak-ins, movie hopping or any other reason. I think it's sad when parents ALLOW their children to steal and teach them to LIE! That's what's happening when you defend your child for the ILLEGAL actions they just did. 8. If you pull up to an "IMAX" theater, and there is no section of the building that stands a lot bigger, then there's a good chance that that "IMAX" is the smaller one...DUH. 9. Change the thinking, don't go to the theater thinking you're going to be disappointed. If you do, you will. 10. Lastly, educate yourself before commenting on somthing you have no idea about...funny guy or not... you just sound STUPID! So, to end this comment, I say... No matter what someone "FAMOUS" may say, sometimes they are given knowledge "credit" because they are "famous" instead of the actual accredidation of their words. No wonder some comedians are never taken serious in life, these kind of rant and blogs just make you sound STUPID!
  • Andrew
    I've seen movies in what I'm pretty sure is for-real IMAX (at least, the screen looked like it was effing massive to me) at a Regal theater -- the one in King of Prussia, PA. Maybe someone should compile a list of "real" IMAX theaters.
  • Cat
    @Andrew The IMAX in KoP is the one I plan on going to for transformers 2. I wanted to make sure it has the true IMAX format and from your description I guess I can assume it does. Thx
  • Mark D
    Here's my take on this, for what it's worth, as a UK cinemagoer. 1. Regular 35mm projection is generally crappy here. We get second hand prints. We get dodgy reel changes. We get noisy projection rooms. Especially outside London. 2. I've seen a few movies on an 'IMAX' screen in my local multiplex and paid the $7 premium for the experience. Ouch! So. What did I get? Firstly, a pristine print. No reel changes. No projection noise. No scratches. No jumps. I got higher definition (just look at Nixon's shitty wig-line in 'WATCHMEN'!). I got terrific sound. I got a better behaved audience. 3. Was it worth the premium? Actually, yes. I know it wasn't 'true IMAX'. I wasn't expecting it to be. Let's face it, a 2.35:1 movie wasn't made to fit on an IMAX screen. The question, therefore is a simple, two part one. a) Is this mini-IMAX experience better than a regular 35mm projection? and b) Is it worth the premium? To me, the answer is a qualifiedf 'yes', but that's because I wasn't expecting a true vertiginous IMAX experience, or indeed would I want one for 152 minutes! Yes, IMAX are misrepresenting this product (slightly) and overcharging (somewhat). But it's a new product and they need to recoup their costs by making it a premium proposition, just like Blu Ray. Consumers will always suffer during this process and early adopters more so. Prices will fall, but the premium/exclusive nature of the IMAX cinema is an important element of it to me. I like to be sat with people who are there to actually watch the movie. People who don't make calls during the picture. People who don't fight. People who don't throw popcorn at the screen. People who sit down and shut the fuck up. I'll pay to be part of that audience. But that's probably a side issue, and maybe says more about me that IMAX!! The BIG question is how does mini-IMAX compare to a proper 4k projection and how do we, as consumers find out exactly what we're getting?
  • Cyc
    "The BIG question is how does mini-IMAX compare to a proper 4k projection and how do we, as consumers find out exactly what we're getting?" 'Mini-imax' IS 4k projection. 4k refers to the light that is being projected not the size of the screen. There is nothing fake about these imax digital cinemas.
  • Cinerama
    You'll like the King of Prussia IMAX-true 15-70 projection, and the audiences are great there. Quiet as a rock. It's beautifully run, and even the two largest "regular" houses have huge screens.
  • John Rhyman
    I must say that REAL-IMAX is worth it. I dont mind paying extra when you get the real stuff. As it says... it's an experience! Havent tried Digital Imax, but I agree that we shouldnt be paying extra for something fake.
  • EricO
    Luckily, I have a "true" iMax theater nearby, The Bridge Cinema Deluxe in West Los Angeles, and their iMax versions of both Dark Knight and Star Trek rocked in a ridiculous fashion. Yeah, it cost $16 each to see 'em but I did leave slack-jawed from the afterimages of a 90' wide x 70' tall screen. I wouldn't waste a dime on these newly-converted iMax Lite screens, no way. IMax needs to be 5 stories tall.
  • http://www.onlinepharmacynoprescription.us/prozac Prozac No Prescription
    i dont think the real factor is gona fine.

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