Thursday, May 14, 2009

Let's get a bit more specific.

(after reading this and checking the map, if you have any corrections or new locations, email me at
I've been shown that different people have different ideas as to what "real IMAX" means. Many people are only referring to domed screens as "real", which is something I hadn't considered at all, and may make my map VERY confusing. So here is a general guide:

IMAX are ruining their brand and deceiving their advocates. For those that want to know, here is a map of known "real/fake" IMAX screens, based on screen size and aspect ratio.

A green marker indicates a "real" IMAX screen, meaning a screen that is totally immersive and fills your field of vision. A red exclamation mark indicates a "fake" IMAX screen, meaning a screen that is branded "IMAX" the same as giant screens, but is not that much larger than regular movie screens, and does not fill your field of vision. OMNIMAX or "domed" screens are indicated by a purple orb shape.

Soon I will get a lot more definitive technical...when I understand what the hell I'm talking about! I've had a a few extremely knowledgeable folks hit my inbox and correct some of the flaws in the ideas and execution of the map, and I want to fix those. Sure would be nice if the people in charge would do that for us, but in the meantime, it may be a bit imperfect. I've got a list here that I'm about to start filling in locations from, so check the map and see if the guidelines of "real" and "fake" match your own. If not, hit me up via email.

Thanks, everyone.

View IMAX or LIEMAX? in a larger map


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. FYI- The size of the Cinemagic Imax screen in Saco, Maine according to the Portland Press Herald is 70' x 40'.

    Not that this is related, but I called them to see how many seats the theater had and they said they could not release that information.

    Entergy IMAX Theater @ Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
    Canal Street at the River
    #1 Canal Street
    New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

    A classic museum Imax right on the Mississippi, they used to show theatrical releases but haven't since they reopened after Katrina. However they have said they may start again since the format is getting popular.

  4. Not sure of the exact screen size, but the IMAX at UA 16 (King of Prussia, PA) is a fake IMAX screen.

    Oh, and the one in West Nyack, NY in the Palisades Mall (which is already on the list correctly) is definitely a real IMAX.

    The Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ has a real IMAX dome screen, as does the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA.

  5. AMC Hoffman Center 22 in Alexandria VA, is FAKE. I just watched Star Trek and kept wonder what was wrong. Something wasn't right. Then i find this blog and there was my answer. It was fake. AMC should be ashamed. Thanks for your work. again Hoffman Center 22 is a FAKE IMAX.

  6. The Blockbuster IMAX theater in Ft. Lauderdale, FL (401 SW 2nd St
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312) is absolutely a REAL IMAX.

    Whilst the "IMAX" at AMC Aventura 24 in the Aventura Mall, FL (19501 Biscayne Blvd #3001) is a FAKE.

  7. I just want to confirm that the "IMAX" at Ronnie's 20 Cine in St. Louis, MO, is indeed fake. I saw "Speed Racer" there last year. Won't go back.

  8. Since
    Museum Of Science
    Science Park
    Boston, MA 02114
    has an IMAX, it should be on the list.

    MY first IMAX experience here with the Domed IMAX Theater. Imagine how upset I was going to all these flat screened places. Don't get me wrong, they are cool, but the Domed IMAX is the way to go!

  9. The cinema de lux in louisville, ky is a liemax. It literally is a repurposed regular screen. There is nothing impressive about it at all. I don't even think the audio is IMAX sound.

  10. I can second Richard's comment: that Louisville theater is absolutely not a real IMAX theater. I saw The Dark Knight there over the summer and I was left underwhelmed and wondering what was wrong. Now I know.
    Also, the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, OH has a domed OMNIMAX screen.

  11. I see some weird comments here. In my opinion anything with the digital projection system is fake. Saco, Maine is digital therefore fake, regardless of the screen. Are you folks saying that if they project the digital picture big enough you'll buy it as being real IMAX? I would not agree with that at all.

    To me, IMAX means 70mm - 15 perf film projection. It's bad enough that these Hollywood films (DK excepted for portions) are not shot in IMAX and therefore lack the super clarity. But this 2K digital cinema projection is a joke. Even on a big screen.

    Further, someone said something about being disappointed with Dark Knight at some theatre. I don't think any fake IMAX theatres existed during that release. This is a more recent phenomenon.

  12. Real IMAX at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, fake IMAX at the AMC Theater at Columbia Mall in Columbia, MD. I saw Watchmen there, expecting an IMAX experience, and got 2K digital projection on a standard large movie screen instead. It looked and sounded great most of the time, but any time there was a blown out highlight I could see the pixels, which was distracting. When the movie started I thought I was still looking at the pre-show commercial promo loop, which is digital projection. (The Watchmen titles were particularly unforgiving to the limitations of digital projection.) Hardly a traditional IMAX experience, and I felt cheated.

    Seems to me that IMAX could have avoided this whole blemish to their brand if they'd simple used an "IMAX Certified Digital Projection" brand (or something more elegant), branding it as a THX competitor. Align it with the quality associated with the brand, but differentiate it from the giant-screen immersive experience that most people associate with IMAX.

  13. A friend brought this blog to my attention because in my motion picture exhibition career I have work with a number of high resolution large screen film formats, including working with IMAX for a number of years. I thought I should say something because this controversy appears to fall in the category of “the truth lying somewhere in the middle”.

    First of all, Ansani’s comments and this discussion hinge on two concepts: There is such a thing as an “IMAX screen” and that IMAX screens are inherently larger than other theatre screens. Neither is true. The screens used in IMAX theatres are identical to other screens in every way. The only difference is IMAX projection uses a narrower aspect ratio, which means they tend to be squarer than standard motion picture “flat” or “scope” projection formats. When a standard movie is shown on an IMAX screen you will notice that the top and bottom portions of the screen are not used. Neither are IMAX screens necessarily larger. A number of the “true” IMAX” screens you are listing may only be 40’ or so tall. There are also standard motion picture screens 40’ tall, although most are smaller. Ansani’s chart is completely fictitious.

    What does define IMAX are the sightlines. The best way to understand this is to try this simple experiment. Notice how large the screen on your TV appears as you sit on your couch 15’-20’ away. Now stand approximately 1’-2’ away from it with your eyes 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of the screen (more on this in a minute). Notice how the screen now fills your field of vision including some of your peripheral. Obviously the TV screen has not gotten larger. Similarly, IMAX uses very specific guidelines for where the seating must be located in relation to the screen. The concept of giant multi-story tall screens came from a marketing line that was developed decades ago to simply explain the difference in that experience without this elaborate explanation.

    In this experiment you will also notice that you can see every pixel on your TV because the resolution is not that sharp. IMAX’s projection system was developed to provide far sharper resolution than 35mm projection to solve that and make sitting closer to the screen work. It should be noted that there have been a number of projection systems through the years that have also improved resolution in varying degrees such as 70mm, Cinerama etc.

    Since all of the “fake IMAX” theatres on your list use IMAX manufactured projection systems they are legitimately genuine IMAX Theatres.

    BUT there are key differences. To be a pure IMAX presentation the film also needs to be filmed in 15perf/70mm and framed in such a way that the horizon is 1/3 of the way up the field of vision to replicate how the human eye sees the world. Close ups of actors should never be done since you would never talk to someone while standing eyeball to eyeball in real life. With the exception of Fantasia 2000 and certain scenes in The Dark Knight, no commercial film has been filmed in IMAX. Commercial films also use a wider aspect ratio, causing the wasted space at the top and bottom of the screen. Since commercial films are just printed up to IMAX stock digitally none of them are true IMAX presentations, even if shown in what you have identified as a real IMAX theatre. This is because there are not enough IMAX theatres in the world to support commercial films made strictly in that format.

    Taking that thinking a step further, IMAX has developed digital projection technology that only projects in commercial film aspect ratios. Since this equipment is less expensive, it makes it possible for more theatres to install digital IMAX systems with comparatively minor modifications to the auditoriums. Additionally, IMAX has made their specifications less stringent so these modifications are more easily done.

    But here is where both Hyder and Ansani do make valid points. At what point do these steps away from the original specifications for the format take away from “The IMAX Experience”? There have always been theatres that are better or lesser examples of the format. I have seen IMAX theatres with screen exceeding 70’ but the image was no sharper than 35mm because of the extreme blow up. There are also better and lesser commercials theatres. Is digital IMAX better than the typical 35mm? Probably. Is digital IMAX better than the original IMAX when the screen is 70’ + tall. Possibly. Are commercial films blown up to IMAX as good as 15/70 IMAX, even when on film? Doubtful. Are all IMAX theatres the same? Absolutely not. That is what this controversy seems to be about.

  14. I saw Star Trek on opening day at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood's Arclight Cinemas. It has an 80-ft screen. Then a friend and I went to the AMC in Woodland Hills because it was supposedly IMAX and saw it on a 30-ft screen. The AMC Woodland Hills (CA) Promenade Theaters are a LIEMAX. FAKE!!

  15. AMC Gulf Point 30 at Beltway 8 and I45 South in Houston is fake. It is the clearest digital projection I've ever seen, but it's not IMAX. For PG13 comic book movies it might be preferable to 35mm projection, but you wouldn't want to see Guy Maddin or Terrence Malick on it.

  16. There's a BIG IMAX you're missing on the map - the IMAX Dome at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Hicksville, NY. It's one of the original old-school domes - absolutely massive and curved.

  17. Muvico Parisian in West Palm Beach, FL, which is labeled as "In Question" is positively Fake.

    I went to see Star Trek and fo a moment I thought I got into the wrong theatre, because the screen was the same size as a non-IMAX one.

    I am surely not coming back to that one!


    All the ones in British Columbia, Canada are real.

    - downtown Vancouver
    - Langley
    - Richmond

  19. Sunset Station Imax at Sunset Station Casino in Henderson, Nevada (Las Vegas). Paid $15 to see Star Trek and the screen was the same size as the regular movies. Where was the super large screen I was used to. I felt totally ripped off, especially since this was a 10 a.m. showing and they didn't even offer a matinee discount price!

  20. I see here the Edwards IMAX reported as fake is being "disputed?" Unless they have torn the roof off since I saw Spiderman 3 on opening day there, there should be no dispute- it is LIEMAX. People who have never been to a real IMAX often don't know the difference, but it was my third IMAX experience and a total disappointment. I wish the whole "digital IMAX" info was out then, I would have saved my money or sunk it into gas to drive to Ontario. We got there only 15mins early and got stuck in the front row. Bad enough at a regular movie, but kissing that giant screen and trying to make out what was playing was rediculous. A REAL IMAX theater usually has the seats starting further back, or in the case of the one in Universal City, you have to go up steps and the lowest seats are half way up the screen. No bad seats in that theater! The dispute is less "fake vs real," people, it's more about "worth the extra money or not." If you have been to a real IMAX, you know that the experience in a regular theater with a modified screen is NOT worth it!

  21. This has been done already by a much more reputable source:

    This map gives you details like screen size (when available) and differentiates between the different IMAX formats (including the new DIGITAL and the older but still smaller MPX format). Bottom line, if you want the best experience you want a GT IMAX theater. MPX theaters are still okay but DIGITAL ones are going to leave you upset.

  22. how do you know if one is fake or not? where do they post specifications? I'm wondering about the new imax at AMC Great Lakes Crossing

  23. JC, King of Prussia is a real IMAX screen and uses 15/70 film.

  24. Thanks so much to the guys and gals doing the work to get this data together. It took several attempts with Google looking for a site with screen sizes. But this is it. I had suspected that AMC Woodland Hills might be fake IMAX, but I wasn't sure. I was pretty sure that The Bridge theaters over north of LAX would have real IMAX if anybody did.

    Since I now live near Woodland Hills the AMC is a lot less gas and time. And I have discount coupons from Costco for AMC Theaters. I checked and they'll let you just pay the IMAX "bump" in price along with your Costco ticket to get into the AMC IMAX. So it's saving time, gas, and a few bucks to see Avatar at Woodland Hills. But since it's Avatar...I guess my wife and I are in for a long drive.

    Aziz ought to at least get a shout out at the Oscars for exposing this. I say the Academy should show they actually care about the "Arts and Sciences" and not the corporate bean counters. If no mention [on camera!] about this fake IMAX this year; then those who care should start a movement for a "Special" Oscar for his "contribution" to be given Aziz next year.

  25. The Imax at Colorado Center 9 at Denver is the only Real Imax in Denver. AMC Orchard Town Center , AMC Westminster and Centennial are fake. The Imax Screen in Westminster is pretty but the way the seats are set(regular theatre) make the view and sound get lost.

  26. Thank you for this! Ever since I saw Avatar at the "IMAX" in White Plains, I have been infuriated by this grave dishonesty. Now I know where to go.

    Speaking of which, it looks like the White Plains Cinema De Lux is still in question as per your map. Take it from me that it is a fake. It was a little more sizable than most screens, but not an Imax by any means.

  27. I love that an expert posted a detailed and brilliant rundown of what IMAX does and does not imply, and yet ignorance soldiers on with cries of "fake!". "real!" "no, fake!"

    Ignorance may not be bliss, but it's certainly comatose.

  28. This was soooo helpful, thank you! My friends and I have gotten so frustrated with the fake Imax screens. By the way, the one in White Plains, NY is FAKE. Unfortunately, I know this from experience.

  29. Well, I went to the IMAX website... and the King of Prussia IMAX 3d there is listed on the website!!!! Now I am confused!

  30. Thank you so much for this post! I was always wondering about this issue. Btw, Could someone check for AMC Owings Mills 17 near Baltimore?

    Thanks again!

  31. Hamilton 16 IMAX in Noblesville Indiana is not a true 15/70 IMAX. I believe the same is true for the Showplace 16 on the southside. The Indiana State Museum in downtown Indianapolis is the only 15/70 screen in the state.

    Thanks for making this!

  32. Wish I would have stumbled on this earlier. Just watched TDKR at Franklin Institute's Tuttleman Theater (domed OMNIMAX). The entire movie was fish-eyed! For example, during the otherwise amazing prologue scene, the plane is shaped like a banana! And there's nothing like the camera zooming in on Batman's his "ears" curve like a jester's hat. The screen appears to be right in your face with 80-90% of image out of focus (rather like watching your TV with your face a foot away from screen). It was miserable. If you are in the Philadelphia region, go see this at King of Prussia, where I recall the IMAX scenes from Dark Knight to be absolutely breathtaking.

  33. A few updates for New England...

    Hooksett, NH (Cinemagic) is fake
    Saco, ME (Cinemagic) is fake

    Missing from the map:
    Methuen, MA (AMC) is fake
    Danvers, MA (AMC) is fake
    Randolph, MA (National Amusements) unknown, but I suspect fake

    The best true IMAX in MA are the ones at Jordan's Furniture, especially in Reading. Not only is the screen far larger than others in the area, they are also cheaper at $11.50 vs the $15 charged by the fake IMAX nearby

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  35. The Imax-theatres in the futuroscope in france are all fake. I've been there, the screens aren't IMAX-worthy, and the sound is DUBBED (and probably doesn't have the correct IMAX-sound system either)

  36. palladium in san antonio is fake not real

  37. palladium in san antonio is fake not real

  38. Muvico in West Palm Beach has a fairly large screen but the sound is not up to my IMAX standards, It uses 4 cheaper subs that do not go down to the 22 hrtz that Imax claims is the newer standard. So consider this LieMax. Franks Cinebowl also uses 15 inch subs but the other speakers look more like true Imax speakers.
    Check out my youtube channel alphazoom for my Imax review where you can clearly see behind the stage at Muvico's theater.