We often hear about how IMAX is such a fantastic movie-watching experience. But once we see the price tag, we’re not so sure if we’re ready to pay extra money when a regular movie theater would do just fine. So, is IMAX really worth it?
IMAX is worth the money only if you’re watching the movie in a real IMAX movie theater and not in a Digital IMAX theater. IMAX offers a clearer and larger image in higher resolution and a 70 mm frame, making the experience more memorable.
In this article, I’ll discuss instances when IMAX is worth the extra money and why it’s number one in the movie theater business.
When is IMAX Worth it?
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For some, IMAX is an unforgettable experience that can’t be repeated in other standard or premium movie theaters. The clear image, the sound system that surrounds you, and the massive screen immerse you into the world of the movie you’re watching.
On the other hand, some say that IMAX isn’t that special and definitely not worth the price. If they want to spend extra money on a movie, they’d rather go to a 4DX theater for a real movie experience.
If you’re one of those people that aren’t sure what the difference between an IMAX and a 4DX movie theater is, check my article about which of these two is better.
So, is IMAX really worth it? The answer is straightforward: it can be worth every dollar if it involves a real IMAX movie theater.
Digital IMAX Movie Theaters Aren’t Real IMAX
Those who say there’s no real difference between standard and IMAX movie theaters probably watched a movie in a Digital IMAX movie theater.
You can’t experience many positive differences between IMAX and standard movie theaters if you find yourself in a Digital IMAX. That’s because you won’t find the massive screen IMAX is famous for in these types of movie theaters.
You get a nicer image than in traditional theaters, but that’s not worth the additional price for most viewers. That’s why people started calling these movie theaters “LieMAX.”
If you want to know more about the key differences between IMAX and standard movie theaters, read my other article, where I give a detailed overview of the differences between the two.
So, why are people going to these LieMAX movie theaters if they’re not real IMAX? Well, many people don’t know that there’s a difference. Tickets don’t mention if it’s IMAX or LieMAX; they just have “IMAX” on them since both movie theaters are still technically IMAX.
So, that’s the first thing you should try to find out. If the movie theater you’re visiting is the real IMAX (IMAX laser), then it’s definitely worth spending a few extra dollars on the memorable experience.
IMAX Is Worth It When It’s Made by IMAX
When we talk about IMAX, we usually talk about those special movie theaters with really large and square movie screens that almost reach the theater’s ceiling. However, IMAX is more than that—so much more.
Not many people know that IMAX makes almost everything from scratch in order to create a special movie-watching experience. First, they have their own IMAX cameras (digital and film), which are really heavy and large, so not many movie directors like to work with them. When they do, however, it’s a perfect fit for IMAX screens.
Apart from its cameras, IMAX also designs and makes its own movie projectors that create those crisp and high-resolution images. Then there’s IMAX’s sound system that’s comparable to Dolby’s Atmos system.
Therefore, when you go to a movie that’s filmed with IMAX cameras made for IMAX’s unique screen format, shown through specialized projectors, and supplemented with a top-of-the-line sound system, you’ll experience an out-of-this-world enjoyment watching that movie.
Is Paying for IMAX Worth It?
IMAX is extremely expensive for many people. While it’s understandable that IMAX tickets can get pricey, you should consider all the things I mentioned above before making a judgment.
The average ticket price in the US is around $10. Regular IMAX tickets are double that amount or more, depending on the country you’re in. So, it’s fair to ask if it’s money well spent.
Sure, if you’re going to a Digital IMAX movie theater, I’d say don’t bother; it’s not worth it. You don’t get the real IMAX experience in those types of theaters, yet you’re paying a premium ticket for IMAX.
However, if you want to watch an action-packed movie that uses a lot of shadows and contours (IMAX is great for showing deep black color), and you have the opportunity to go to a real IMAX theater, then I think it’s worth spending few extra dollars once in a while to treat yourself.
Does IMAX Make You Dizzy?
Some people like watching movies in 3D theaters and IMAX, but they’re unable to because they tend to feel sick afterward. Why does that happen?
IMAX can make you feel dizzy because of its large immersive movie screen that, according to researchers, confuses the senses and makes our brains think the area in front of us is moving while our body is still.
Researchers call this kind of sensation cybersickness, and it happens with both 3D and IMAX movies. Because IMAX screens are so large, they practically cover everything we see in front of us. This makes our brains think we’re actually in that situation that’s on the screen (which is kind of the point of IMAX).
Our brains get confused because they perceive we’re moving, but our bodies are completely still. The result is dizziness or a feeling of sickness. The same principle is visible when we’re spinning and suddenly stop—we stop moving, but our brain thinks we’re still spinning.
There are a few premium movie theater options out there, with IMAX being one of the more expensive ones. However, IMAX can be a really worthwhile experience to treat yourself to occasionally.
IMAX is worth it if you’re visiting a real IMAX theater and not a Digital IMAX (LieMAX), which costs the same but doesn’t provide you with that unique experience of excellent audio, pristine image, and visible details on a huge screen. Still, if you get dizzy easily in movie theaters, then IMAX isn’t worth the risk.