Seeing movies in IMAX is more expensive — and that’s a problem

At first glance, the ratio of the film does not seem like a big deal. Surely it would be fine if some moviegoers did not experience certain aspects? But over the past few years, especially after the pandemic level, it has become more of a problem. Moviegoers still don’t go to the movies like before. It is for many reasons. Bad experiences in theaters due to moviegoers disrespecting other people are happening everywhere (thanks, Alamo Drafthouse for being awesome). Another big problem is the screen. A premium screen is what people want, and usually, that’s IMAX or some other larger format. It would be great if they were available and everyone could see them. However, they are not. Not only that, but they often waste a lot of money. It is not a sustainable way to move forward.

Why is aspect ratio so important to the movie viewing experience?

Cillian Murphy in 'Oppenheimer'
Image via Universal

First of all, why is aspect ratio so important to the movie viewing experience? Aspect ratio simply refers to the ratio of the width and height of the image. That’s why some movies fill your TV while other aspect ratios fill the void. One of the more famous aspect ratios is CinemaScope, which was in popular use during the 1950s and 60s. It results in very wide images that look thin compared to our modern widescreens. If you ever find yourself watching your favorite classic movie, see how different the format is. It takes a lot of pictures on both sides. For IMAX movies, the image is bigger, up to 40% bigger according to IMAX. That is an understatement. If you don’t have the chance to see a movie in IMAX, this screen is huge. It’s not just a bigger picture, but more information from the movie that has been cut for standard theaters. Usually, it is not very important information to be left, unless the crop is bad, but it helps to soak a lot of water.

IMAX looks good, right? The catch is that IMAX tickets are often more expensive than regular tickets. It also depends on where you live. It seems that the bigger the city, the bigger the price. The difference in ticket prices between Texas and New York is about ten dollars, New York being more expensive. But not only that, IMAX tickets are more expensive everywhere. It makes sense, you’re paying for a greater experience, but it’s clear that people are being priced out. If you go alone, it might not be so good. If you feed the whole family, that’s easily over a hundred dollars, not including the snacks you get. And yet, Hollywood expects everyone to pay that kind of money almost every weekend. Proof by this month filled with new big movies almost every week, and one story shows its flaws as some movies can’t connect when people are forced to choose what to watch. Hollywood is all about money, but the movie experience is changing for everyone.

RELATED: Where Did the Modern Obsession With Disorganized Aspect Ratio Come From?

Why are IMAX screenings so rare?

Avatar 2
Image via 20th Century Studios

Price is not the only problem, however. Another big problem is that many places just don’t have a screen for a format like this. Oppenheimer will be released in 30 theaters worldwide in full-frame IMAX 70mm film. My city only has two IMAX locations. Some don’t. Now, of course, a small town will have nothing more than a hometown theater, but the entire state lacks more than just a few locations. It speaks to the larger issue of a diminished theater experience. Not only are many theaters failing to upgrade seats, sound, and screens from what they already have, but the community experience is further disappointing. From talking to using the phone throughout the film’s run, it can be easy to decide to just stay at home and wait for the film to be digitized. It’s a more peaceful experience, but it’s not the same

Good theaters are worth finding, but it’s not worth going to them every weekend. Driving an hour to get a “premium” experience is not possible for every new movie release. There are many regular theaters that do their job well, even if they don’t have the epic sound and big screen that IMAX does. It’s more unfair that everyone can enjoy these exciting forms of drama. It’s not something that’s going to change anytime soon. It will be a huge task to make these screens accessible not only by location, but also by economy. Ticket prices for regular inspections are already high, adding any concession to the price is too high. Most people go with their families too, which is generally three or four tickets for one exit. Going to the movies is expensive. We are in a very competitive film environment. Not only for the films themselves, but the theaters find themselves competing as well.

Can you get the IMAX experience at home?

Matthew McConaughey in his helmet and astronaut suit
Image via Paramount Pictures

It would be less of a problem if these alternate aspect ratios were available. If you can’t catch it in the cinema, maybe you can watch it on Blu-ray and see it with a bigger picture. And yes, of course it is the case for some movies, a large number seems to be forgotten, which leaves the standard ratio on the disc, and there is no other way to see other ratio formats. Of course, there are exceptions to this. Disney+’s strategy is to offer an exclusive “IMAX Enhanced” experience on their streaming service while releasing Blu-ray in its regular format. Other films received special treatment, e.g The stars And No. Therefore, this style can be brought to those who may not have the opportunity to see it anywhere but at home.

It’s always weird when some versions of a movie stand out over others. Sometimes it is a different cut. Maybe with different music. Aspect ratio is probably the last thing on people’s minds when they think of altered versions of movies. No matter what, keeping the film is the most important thing. The truth is that for some reason, not many people try to maintain these expansion ratios. It will not only give more people the opportunity to experience their favorite movies in a new way, but also preserve the different language versions of the movies. Streaming services that carry these are a great start, but we all know how quickly those can disappear. Preserving these is just as important as making these experiences more accessible to people in the theater space. People get a boost economically and geographically from the top movie experience.

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