AMC And IMAX Engaging In Deception? Calling Non-IMAX Films IMAX (And Charging More)

from the how-to-destroy-a-brand... dept

We’ve been big supporters of the idea that Hollywood and the movie theaters should be investing more in providing experiences like super large screen IMAX theaters, because that enhances the movie-going experience well beyond what can be replicated with a home theater today. And, indeed, we’re starting to see some of that. However, it appears that some theaters and perhaps IMAX itself, have gotten the wrong message out of all of this. Via Digg, we’re alerted to someone complaining that he drove out of his way and paid an extra $5 at an AMC theater in order to see the new Star Trek movie in IMAX. Except… he discovered it wasn’t actually the IMAX that we all think about when we hear the word. A little investigating turned up the news that IMAX and some theaters have started marketing IMAX’s new digital theater projection system as an IMAX-branded experience, despite it being nothing like what most people think of when they hear the word IMAX. It’s difficult to see how that’s not a deceptive and unfair business practice by IMAX and AMC — especially when they’re charging an extra $5 for it.

screencompa
What’s really stunning is that IMAX would risk such massive damage to its brand with this stunt. It’s difficult to fathom how massively such a move could backfire on a company whose brand image is probably its most valuable asset.

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Companies: amc, imax

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Comments on “AMC And IMAX Engaging In Deception? Calling Non-IMAX Films IMAX (And Charging More)”

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62 Comments
nasch says:

Re: Re: how do you tell?

Do you just enjoy berating people, or are you really that thick? He means if he sees a movie advertised as being shown in “IMAX” how can he tell from the ad, without going to the theater, if that’s “real IMAX” or “fake IMAX”? I’d say you have to call the theater, but 1) that kind of defeats the purpose of online listings and 2) it can be hard to get hold of a human to ask a question at some theaters.

KenDowns (user link) says:

I paid the $5.00

So my daughter says “let’s see Star Trek in iMax over at the AMC”. So we pay the extra $5.00 per ticket, and Fandango took $2.00 fee instead of $1.00 per ticket.

Guess what? It was the exact same theatre it had been before the “upgrade” to iMax, except the screen was slightly curved. Oh, and perhaps just a few feet larger in each direction. Maybe it was louder too, ha ha.

As “TheStupidOne” said, “fool me once…” I won’t be attending any iMax show at AMC ever again.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Jerks

Well, I was really really looking forward to seeing the second Transformers movie in IMAX come June.
Now there is a very good chance that I will just see it regularly.
Why pay the extra 6 dollars when I can’t even be guaranteed to have it be super much better.
If IMAX doesn’t care to keep IMAX meaning super freaking awesome larger in all aspects, than I can’t trust them.
If you will excuse me, I must inform all of my friends about this deception considering I am many a person’s technical liason (sad I know ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

chris (user link) says:

Here's how you know if its a real IMAX or fake IMAX

a person has mapped out all the fake and real imaxes on google maps. So you know when you go where you are going. its not complete though..
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&ll=36.210347,-86.68539&spn=0.043144,0.077248&t=h&z=14&msid=113621990356540393221.000469b6c5915161c3667&iwloc=000469b6d72410c230bbd

Dotar Sojat says:

Pre-movie branding

I saw Star Trek on the IMAX screen at the Seattle Science Center. Though I was smart enough to realize before-hand that this was really just a large screen presentation of the film and not really in IMAX format, the theater did run a big IMAX promo before the movie talking about IMAX’s features and how great they are. It ended by telling the audience to get ready for the IMAX experience – something that probably further supported people’s belief that this movie was going to be in the IMAX format.

John says:

Re: Pre-movie branding

You may be confused as many of us are due to the mis-branding by Imax. This simply isn’t an issue of format, most people are aware that Star Trek was not shot on Imax’s proprietary film, that is was shot on regular 35 mm file and through their upscale conversion process, made to fit Imax screens.

What this article is about and what most people are upset about is something that you may or may not be aware of (thanks again Imax). What is happening is that in regular AMC theaters, they are claiming to show Star Trek on an Imax screen, but in reality the screens they are showing them on are only slightly larger than a traditional 35 mm screen (about a few feet more than 25 ft tall or something). Compare that to a 72 ft tall traditional Imax screen, which is probably what you saw it on being that it was at a Science Center, traditional home of Imax.

So unbeknown to you, you wouldn’t be aware of the smaller screen bait-and-switch that so many other people are angry about.

DJ (profile) says:

real-thing(?)

I really DID see the IMAX version at dole cannery in Honolulu.

But I only know it’s real because I’ve been to the fake/poorly presented ones in the past.

Kind of proving a negative, I know, but otherwise I don’t know how else you really could tell the difference. Sounds like AMC and IMAX are counting on that; thus heralding back to people simply believing in a brand simply because it IS said brand, and not actually doing their research.

John says:

Re: real-thing(?)

If you’ve never been to a traditional IMax theater, the way to tell the difference is that a traditional IMax screen is 72 ft tall and these new “digital” screens are around 25-30 ft tall only. But in the end, you still pay the same price. It’s pretty easy to tell if the screen is the size of a small store or a 3-story tall building.

RD says:

REALLY??

“Kind of proving a negative, I know, but otherwise I don’t know how else you really could tell the difference. Sounds like AMC and IMAX are counting on that; thus heralding back to people simply believing in a brand simply because it IS said brand, and not actually doing their research.”

I get your point, but really….”I dont know how else you could really tell the difference?”

REALLY?

You mean, a screen that is so large its larger than your ENTIRE RANGE OF VISION isnt sufficient “difference” to tell IMAX apart from regular movies??

I think IMAX has enough market awareness with most people that they know it means A REALLY REALLY BIG SCREEN, not a somewhat-larger-but-not-really-impressively sized screen.

IMAX has been around for 20 years now, and is in every major amusement park, its pretty well known what they are. There shouldnt be any “confusion” among the masses about its nature.

This is just pure, naked, corporate greed on the part of AMC (and IMAX if they truly sponsored this “imax experience” on small screens).

Greed ruins all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: REALLY??

The guys point is that how could you tell the difference if you’ve never been in one of the original IMAX theaters, not how could you tell the difference if you’ve physically seen both.

You’d be surprised what the public actually knows about various brands. Hell, just yesterday I found out that the average person actually has no clue what a Zune is.

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Real IMAX

A few years back, I got to see The Return of the King on the IMAX screen at the Indiana State Museum – it was not an IMAX film and it was just being blown up and shown on the IMAX screen and it was still amazing! When the screen is bigger than your field of vision (and the seats are raked at such an angle that there is no one in front of you blocking your view) you really can get lost in the movie and it’s the next best thing to being there. If I pay extra to see a movie in IMAX it had better look just as good as ROTK did or I’ll be asking for my money back, too.

Brandon says:

Re: Real IMAX

Is the IMAX screen at the Indiana State Museum a full-size IMAX screen? I haven’t seen a film there in a few years and I can’t remember. I’ve seen a couple at the new IMAX in Noblesville and it was disappointing. My girlfriend thought it was way too loud (could be because it was just a large movie theater, nothing special) and for a friend of mine that was his first IMAX experience. He commented over and over that it didn’t seem as big as he thought it would be. If the one at the ISM is a huge full-size screen, I’ll start driving downtown to see IMAX.

minijedimaster says:

There’s a real IMAX theatre by me with the really huge squarish screen that costs like $15/ticket. Gonna go see Star Trek tonight on it. I’d be really pissed if this false advertisement tricked me though. I’m sure they were just trying to pull one over on the people who have never seen a real imax screen, because they wouldn’t know the difference anyway. Also, part of the IMAX experience is having the speakers behind the screen so voices can come from that exact location on the screen. I wonder if they did at least that on these fake ones?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Here's how you know if its a real IMAX or fake IMAX

Hence the whole “its not complete though..” right before the link. dumbass.

How about reading, or instead of complaining try to add some useful information since (upon opening the link in question) it’s obviously taking user submitted information to complete their map.

rhan says:

Re: Fake Imax

I think you’ve missed the point — this was not likely about a gimmick or “let’s trick the customers”, but IMAX developing digital projection (as opposed to the standard what most of us think of IMAX with the gigantor reels for the films as well as the huge screen – thankfully the sound experience maintains the qualities that we expect in an IMAX experience) and expanding into that market.

While yes, it would be lovely if the theaters would be promoting things properly (i.e. in the LF Examiner article linked, it mentioned that originally various operators had wanted to promote as “IMAX digital”), I can understand the concerns of the head of the corporation being concerned that it would cause public reaction to older (proper)IMAX as being out of date or not being as willing to pay the premium ticket price for the traditional IMAX experience, due to not having the “digital” appended to it.

However, I think what the CEO failed to realize is that for any of us who have watched multiple films on IMAX, the newer digital projection system setups do not give us a “wow” factor. (I spent most of my formative years in a city with a science center and an IMAX – most of the films were educational, but I did get to see the Fantasia release in glorious overwhelming size and sound)

Part of what has confused me in the past (2003ish), is that some theaters with traditional IMAX setups have variance in the screen size – i.e. the one at Ontario Place in Toronto is smaller than the screen at Science North in Sudbury.

Baylink (user link) says:

It seems worth pointing out here.

that, unlike the Dark Night, *none* of this film was show with IMAX cameras on 15/70 horizontal transport film… so even if you go to am “IMAX Classic” (amusing, that “Classic” still means “the old thing which was still worth it”, isn’t it; Coke must be almost as embarassed), you’re *still* not “really” getting IMAX; you’re getting 6-perf 35 scope blown up to IMAX.

And cinema buffs who’ve seen it already will be hinted to that it wasn’t even shot with spherical lenses by the elliptical bokeh in a couple of deep focus pulls.

YES says:

YES

I’ve been to a number of IMAXs, and the one in Columbia MD is NOT a large screen. It’s like a regular sized screen with the volume turned up. Consumers equate IMAX with huge size and massive sound.

I’ve been to the one at the Smithsonian, the one at the south Florida science museum (in Fort Lauderdale), and the one in the science museum in Barcelona. The one in Barcelona is BY FAR the largest (when you look at the center, it encompasses your entire vision). I thought the one in Columbia was a sham, and I would not be surprised if they get sued.

wyvernlord says:

I did the same thing

Paid more money, drove 35 miles to see the Trek film on IMAX, only to find a screen not much larger then normal.

Needless to say I was a bit annoyed (still enjoyed the film though). However, I am probably not going to think about AMC theaters again, other options here for me and I will use them before AMC in the future.

Pat Dant says:

AMC and IMAX Suck

Yes, they such because they are trying to make people pay $5 more for a digital projector, by sucking people into what they thought was a large screen 70mm experience. The only experience was being ripped off.

I will avoid both AMC and IMAX because I can’t tell when they are lying about what their showing.

Sal Ignab (user link) says:

just sit closer

I think it’s kind of funny that people complain bitterly if they have to sit in the front two rows of a theater, but then the same people pay $6 extra so they can sit in the IMAX equivalent of the front two rows of a theater.

Maybe my kids have the right idea – just stand ten inches from the TV set and save ALL the cost of going to the AMC.

Him ThtaIs says:

better than IMAX hidden in Tampa

MOSIMAX- Museum Of Science & Industry IMAX

Something they will never showcase in Tampa,FL is the MOSI or the IMAX there. It’s a dome theater that you literally lie back to watch the film. The film goes all across your plane of vision and just a shade past. They also give warning of sensory overload(I guess it happened). Now that was an experience.

We have a place called Channelside with an IMAX. It’s just a little larger in the screen department. The equivalent of a 25″ TV vs a 27″. It was a complete rip-off. I was “once bitten” there.

Brandon says:

Re: better than IMAX hidden in Tampa

Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry has the same thing, a large domed screen so the image seems all around you. They call it an Omnimax. I have no idea if it has anything to do with the Imax brand or not, nor am I sure if they show mainstream movies or just the education ones. I haven’t been there in forever.

Rick Gershman (user link) says:

Re: better than IMAX hidden in Tampa

I feel I have to respond to this, because I feel the writer is giving the Channelside somewhat short shrift. I used to live in Tampa and attended several Channelside IMAX films, and the screen definitely is much larger than a standard size. I certainly wouldn’t group it in the same category as the “fake IMAX” screens.

I think the problem is one of comparison: the MOSI IMAX in north Tampa is just as awe-inspiring as the writer noted. It’s gargantuan. It’s one of the old-school ones several major cities have in their science museums. The Channelside screen doesn’t come anywhere close to the one at MOSI.

So I can see how Channelside looks unimpressive next to MOSI–hell, anything would–but I totally disagree with calling it “a complete rip-off.”

Having watched Spider-Man 2 in a regular theater and again at the Channelside IMAX a few days later, I can honestly say, it was like a different film. The difference went far and above the “25 to 27” inch difference the writer noted, in my opinion.

That said, I am disgusted with what IMAX is pulling in many places with the way it is marketing its digital system. IMAX should straighten out immediately before it starts staring at a class-action suit.

Abby says:

Does AMC/ whoever really claim to play Imax films?

Just wondering, I know during the previews some films have been marketed as an IMAX Experience, but I always assumed that just meant it was playing in an IMAX theater as well as any regular sized theater, such as AMC. Then again, I always knew the IMAX theaters were ginormous by comparison.

Donald says:

This story interested me – mainly as I hadn’t realised imax screens were that big. I’ve been to a couple of imax films in the past and wondered what the big deal was, since they weren’t much different from a large normal cinema screen. Turns out I haven’t been to a proper imax at all!

Seems they’ve been pulling this stunt in the UK for a while

Dave says:

Its 4X smaller for chrissakes! Can I pay 4X less???

How many of us are getting the old bait & switch by IMAX at our local movie theaters! These screens are 1/4 the size of real IMAX and they are charging full price and hoping we won’t notice!

Look at this link for more info and a shocking picture of the size difference!

http://www.lfexaminer.com/20081016.htm

Did they think we wouldn’t notice the screen is 4x smaller than its supposed to be??

Anonymous Coward says:

So for $5 more they are charging you for a up to 2048×1080 resolution digital picture on a slightly larger screen than a normal theater.

I think I’ll pass. I get that for regular price. In fact for $5 more I also get: nobody under the age of 21, food, beer, wine ordered before the movie starts delivered to me in the theater, and a more private viewing experience with separated rows at double normal stadium seating.

Oh how I love privately run theaters. http://www.cinetopiatheaters.com/cinema/theaters.htm

Bettawrekonize (profile) says:

“The purpose of trademark is to protect consumers from confusion, except when the confusion is intentionally caused by the trademark holder… then it’s OK, apparently.”

It wouldn’t be trademark, it would be trade dress. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_dress

Trademark would be something like Nike or Microsoft or something of that nature.

Pietux says:

Whining whining whining......

This page has been waste of my time, but my wife pointed it out to me for review….

Has anybody here ever known a ball can come in different colors and sizes and surprise, it is still called a ball.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMAX
http://www.experiencefestival.com/imax_-_technical_specifications

BTW. I went to see the Start Trek in the Digital IMAX theater and the image + sound quality was far superior comparing to older IMAX formats.

Rick Gershman (user link) says:

Re: Whining whining whining......

That could be the most illogical, and entirely pointless, argument ever made.

This isn’t a ball. It’s a branded system that has marketed itself on the notion of showing a huge image. It’s very name comes from merging “image” and “maximum.”

What if you bought something called a Hummer, paid the money for a Hummer, and they gave you a vehicle the size of a Toyota Yaris? Think you might whine then? Or would you say, “Um this isn’t anywhere near the size I expected, but it sure runs well. I’ll take it.”

This isn’t about quality of picture and sound. This is about honestly marketing a product.

Next time, let your wife leave the comment. Clearly she’s the one with the brains.

spartanmark05 says:

"fake" IMAX...

People, you have to remember that when IMAX first came out, conventional movie screens were a fraction of the size they are now. The screens in today’s stadium-seated theaters’ largest auditoriums are not much smaller than IMAX any more…The AMC IMAX screen at the theater by me stretches from wall to wall, and from the ceiling down to maybe a couple feet from the floor, and is much larger than the 27 x 58 feet in the sketch. The main difference is that, at the AMC Imax the top row of seats is higher in contrast to the screen than at a “regular” IMAX. Maybe this difference in the seats’ trajectory to the screen accounts for the more dramatic feeling some say the get at an original IMAX.

irieblue says:

how to find true IMAX theaters (I think)

on the IMAX website you can tell the real from the fake by clicking on “Find Your Imax Theater” on the homepage. After the search results appear, click on the individual theater. Then click on “Theater Type” (top right of the screen). If it says “Classic-design IMAX theater” it should be the real deal. If it says “multiplex design IMAX theater” its not.

pieter says:

Keep this discussion alive !!! :)

I am from Belgium living in Antwerp. Here the main cinema group is the Kinepolisgroup and they closed their IMAX theater in Brussels in 2005 :'((. That is very sad cause it was the biggest screen in Europe with the size of 30 width X 20 hight good for 600 square meters!!!. Again :'((. So we don’t have an IMAX in Belgium anymore……..
In Antwerp where i live they call their multiplex Metropolis and not Kinepolis cause it has more rooms and it is more than a cinema aswell. An intresting thing is that on the kinepolis website you find the sizes of all the screens in their multiplexes over the country and in a few others.
As you can see here in the link for example in the Metropolis Antwerp:
http://www.kinepolis.com/be-nl/index.cfm?PageID=10006&cid=METRO
I am sure they don’t play 3D movies in all their rooms. I saw Avatar in room 11 and its screen has the size 14.01 x 5.96 m = 83,4996 square meters. Not bad at all offcourse. I realy enjoyed the movie no i loved Avatar!
IMAX never went out of my mind so i started looking for information for an IMAX nearby. I found out that the Netherlands (our neighbour country) has 3 imaxes… but their sizes are only 164 square meters……… I know now years ago there used to be a 595 square meters screen in the past in teh city Amsterdam. Anyways i was happy to find a imax nearby in Rotterdam. But thanks to the boycot of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland i had to look further and couple weeks later i went to see Avatar again and ALice in Wonderland same day in the IMAX in Londen!! It has a REAL IMAX theater. According to the website it has the size of more then 520 square meter.
So Donald where in the UK did you go to an IMAX theatre? Or is IMAX Londen fake???
check my little movie i filmed inside IMAX Londen on the following link i will upload it also on youtube when i am back home:
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=362247240562
So i can tell you the difference:
The way i saw Avatar the second time was competely different then on the 84 meter screen. offcourse it was the same movie but things who are huge in the movie like the spacecraft in space etc are rrrrealy big for the public aswell. You just can’t have that effect in a normal cinema and offcourse NOT if you try sitting close to your flatscreen at home or by sitting on the front row. I was sitting on the 7th row almost in the middle. I always sit on a distance that the width of the screen fills the horizontaly vision of my eyes so i don’t know how it must be if you sit on the seat totaly in the rear.
The 3D effect is much better then in normal cinema. The image in IMAX is far more bright so there is only a little loss in brightness when you have the glasses on. I noticed a lot more sunglass-effect in the metropolis.
IMAX Londen does not have a widescreen as we are used in normal cinemas and the projection of Avatar was widescreen so there were empty spaces beneath and above the projection. So that makes it little fake i suppose. offcourse i don’t know the size of the projection in square meter but it’s something i am wondering about. Maybe the movie is best seen in widescreen aspect rate? Alice in Wonderland was projected on the whole screen ๐Ÿ™‚
According to the information i found there are IMAX screens who are widescreen like the ones in Warschau Poland and Sydney so i suppose they are full screen projections. ๐Ÿ™‚
I am now in Bangkok and here is an IMAX, i have no idea about the size and aspect ratio. I wanted to go but it is closed due to the protest actions here :'((((((( the days before and in couple of hours i fly back to Belgium.
So i can not compare with other IMAX theaters.
When you get the chance go see a movie in IMAX!
i wonder if other people will continue this discussion ๐Ÿ™‚

Tom Olson says:

AMC conversions, screens are the same size!

Arlington Tex
AMC converted 1 of their 4 large screens to IMAX. I have designed and built somle of the most lavish theaters over the last 35 years so I know what they have done.
I read that a nex IMAX was to be built at the Parks Mall AMC and I asked the manager where are they going to put the new theater since thet were on the 3rd floor of mall. He said they were going to convert one of their large theaters. The screens in these theaters were comprised since they had exits on either side of the screen, which is the worst thing I have scene in a build to suite theater. The front rows were really set doen in a hole between the exits because the exit doors were really 4 feet off the floor. The screen used masking to raise for flat pictures, ao really they took the same screen moved it forward after taking out 2 rows of seats. Changed the rear speaker system but surroundes remained the same. I Dallas where we have UA with 80 foot regular screens and cinemark with several 70 plus screens. Harkins with 70 foot screen, the Cinemard building XD single up scaled digital why do we pay $17 to $20 to see so called IMAX conversions on 45 and 50 foot screens. IMAX should have looked at the UA with two 80 ft screens and pleanty to lower the screens and even make them bigger for very little money.
At least the XD’s have deeply curved screens where I saw Ben Hur preseneted in an upscaled digital restoration that was as good as any Todd Ao theater ever built. Sad condidering the elements were from 1959 and wa s as good as the upscaled IMAX. It a was far superior to the giggle box IMAX that AMC conversion in Arlington. SOme AMC here do hacw side exits which really make this bad because the Pars is newer than those theaters. This theater should have been passed over for the conversion especiall since Cinemark 5 miles down the road added a new giant XD theater from the ground up with a deep curved screen. It makes the IMAX conversion look sick. I do like the new IMAX DLP system but find it like projecting 70MM on a 30 foot screen where they are capabe of so much more.
IMAX want to bring them in! use your digital seamless overlaping a bring back CINERAMA with 3 projectors using IMAX format with a presentation that will bring people out of their seats. You will need more than a 45 foot screen! 2.35 and up can be converted to the 3 projector split. Why 3 projectors, ask nGeorge Lucas, no screen distoration. Well I have bitched enough, but complaints need to be noted like Bank of America fees, Admissiomjs arwe to high unless you have something to offer. Showmanship is DEAD! I have lived long enough to see the greatest screens ever built to the crap of the 70’s strip center theaters AMC invented. Soon all the great showmen will be gone and the great screens of yesterday will be forgoten forever.

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