If It’s Bigger AND Bolder AND Better, It Must Be IMAX(?)

UPDATE 2/4/11: Opening year and film have been corrected.

Over the years, the creative have found new uses for IMAX auditoriums – in Hawaii, as home to a circus; in Miami, a high-end fitness club; in Las Vegas, an exotic car dealership; and in Scottsdale, a dinner theater showing “Menopause the Musical.”

And if we’re to believe the fashion press, a couple of days ago, David Andersen…launched his womenswear collection in an IMAX movie theater alongside a 3-D fashion film” as part of Copenhagen Fashion Week. The problem with this statement, appearing in a number of online fashion publications, is that the event actually did not take place at the Tycho Brahe Planetarium, the city’s only IMAX theater.  This is a continuing case of identifying an IMAX trait as being IMAX, such as a large screen, or in this case, 3D.  I originally identified this issue in an earlier post.  The problem is exacerbated by this photo:

(C) IMAX Corporation

Created as a publicity photo by IMAX for use by its affiliated theaters, it is a composite of a frame from the IMAX film “Space Station 3D”, which is only distributed for projection on IMAX systems, and the interior of an IMAX GT auditorium.  But the photo also appears on this page  on the Barco website (you may need to scroll to view it). To the best of my knowledge and that of a few folks in the industry I checked with, Barco is not involved with IMAX on any projects.  In fact, as projectors for IMAX’s digital systems are supplied by Barco’s competitor, Christie, and Barco just introduced their new 4K DLP projector system at an event  intended to showcase digital alternatives to IMAX, it appears something may be quite a bit misleading. 

But even though Barco is not involved with IMAX and Andersen’s fashion show did not take place at an IMAX theater, Barco was involved with this event. 

I want to showcase the theatre that Andersen’s event took place in, because it was one of the last of its generation.  We tend to forget the history of the cinema, its roots with vaudeville, the grand palaces built to house these wonders of light and sound.  We forget the giant auditoriums built in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, to house huge screens that filled the periphery.  We began to shut them down, split them in half, create cinemas with so many screens, that we had to shrink some of the auditoriums to the size of our living rooms to fit them all in one building.  In the 80’s and 90’s, we began a love affair with IMAX, but the days are numbered even for this giant of all screens, as for every 10 or 20 IMAX theaters that open in a converted cineplex auditorium, a giant screen closes it doors. But to the masses, the love affair will never end.  Every big auditorium, every larger than standard screen, and every 3D presentation will be known as IMAX.

A few classic theaters are maintained and restored, such as the Ziegfeld in New York, the Castro in San Francisco, and the Chinese and Cineramadome in Hollywood.  Add to that list the Imperial in Copenhagen.  This movie palace opened in 1961 with Exodus, a Super Panavision 70mm film.  In the mid-80’s proposals to split the theater into five smaller auditoriums were quickly abandoned, and for good reason.  This really is a gem.

According to Thomas Haurslev of in70mm.com, “The projection room has been designed for the comfort of the staff as well as for modern efficiency. For Todd-AO pictures there are Philips DP70 machines with Kinoton lamphouses. There is also a DP100 Barco digital projector

“The throw is 34.2 metres, giving the following 70mm screen size: 15,6 metres x 7,4 metres.

“The sound system throughout is by JBL, and is fitted for seven track digital stereophonic sound. Five channels of speakers and subwoofers are behind the screen and 42 surround speakers along each of the side and rear walls.”  The 1102 seat Imperial is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and, although not an IMAX, it’s just as big and bold (and possibly even better).

Imperial Interior, Courtesy Thomas Haurslev. Used with permission.

Special thanks to Thomas Haurslev, James Hyder, and Hans Kummer for their assistance with this post.

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3 Responses to If It’s Bigger AND Bolder AND Better, It Must Be IMAX(?)

  1. Hi Joseph, I can assure you that Barco projectors (although not digital cinema ones) are being used in the Tycho Brahe planetarium. Please refer to http://www.barco.com/en/entertainment/pressrelease/1678/en

    Lieven Bertier, Brand Manager Barco

    • Joe says:

      Hi Lieven,

      I’m well aware of the Barco installation at Tycho Brahe and have been wanting to visit for years. In 2006, I ran the Barco press release on my previous website, World Enteractive: mhtml:http://web.archive.org/web/20060322190737/www.worldenteractive.com/tychobrahe.mht. However, the photo on the Barco website is intended by IMAX to potray what they term “The IMAX Experience” and to the best of my knowledge, Barco components are not utilized as parts of IMAX’s film or digital projectors. Additionally, the articles I was finding in the fashion press listed the Andersen fashion as taking place in an IMAX theater, which could only be Tycho Brahe. It actually took place in a different theater built for 5perf 70mm film in 1961, the Imperial, which also uses a Barco digital projector for running 3D films.


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