IMAX Boosting Hollywood's Bottom Line

IMAX Boosting Hollywood's Bottom Line

A quick show of hands – is anyone actually excited when they find a movie is being shown in 3D?


The movie industry has been pushing 3D hard for the past three years, despite waning enthusiasm for the medium and a tiny subset of films worthy of that third dimension.

For the record, both “Hugo” and “Avatar” showed why 3D can be a wonderful way to present a film. Nearly every other 3D feature has squandered those Buddy Holly spectacles.

Now, USA Today reports the real “killer app” isn’t 3D but IMAX screens:

Despite tickets that can run more than $15 each, IMAX box office is leading the industry’s rebound in revenue and attendance. Through the first six weeks of the year, IMAX reports, ticket sales hit $55 million, a 45% increase over the same period in 2011. Analysts project that, given the tent-pole movies heading to IMAX this spring, the first quarter could finish up more than 70% over last year.

The surge well outpaces the industry’s overall rebound, which has seen ticket sales and revenue rise about 20% over last year. 

It’s a no brainer. Most movie fans have a pretty generously sized flat screen TV at home which faithfully reproduces the viewing ratio seen on the big screen. What consumers can’t reproduce is the massive screen size which makes movies such an immersive experience.

Donald Trump’s movie room might be an exception.

Two 2011 films showcased the power of the big screen. Movie goers who saw both “The Artist” and “The Tree of Life” in theaters described it as a far more rewarding experience than seeing the same films on a television screen.

And this critic recalls some jaw-dropping sequences while watching the IMAX version of “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” late last year. I fear the film simply won’t reproduce that same sense of excitement when it debuts on Blu-ray April 17.

That makes the theatrical experience irreplaceable, which should be good news both to film studios and the little kid in all of us.