By Jason Knott, May 31, 2013
The system is designed to bring the IMAX Experience to our well-heeled movie enthusiast clients. The Mississauga, Canada-based company has kept the debut of IMAX Private Theatre under wraps for quite a while as it lined up its Certified Partner Network, system design and interface. The availability of the system was first publicized in the April issue of the Robb Report, a consumer publication targeting luxury customers.
“We have been exploring this for quite a while,” says Rob Lister, chief business development officer at IMAX. “This expands the IMAX brand outside of commercial theaters and gives people that same ‘feel-like-you’re-part-of-the-movie’ experience. We are taking our cutting-edge IMAX technology and re-tooling it for ultra-high-net-worth individuals’ homes.”
Lister points out that it is an “IMAX Private Theatre,” not a home theater. “We are using the same guidelines and specifications as we do for our theatrical experiences with some adjustments to make it work in a smaller environment and allow users to interact with it directly since there is no projectionist,” says Lister.
What, Exactly, is IMAX?
One of the key features that distinguishes an IMAX theater is IMAX’s dual projection system that displays images with greater brightness, contrast and resolution, as well as a much greater vertical height and a larger aspect ratio than a conventional theater. Most films today are made in a 2.40:1 ratio of width to height, while IMAX theaters generally provide between a 1.91:1 and a 1.43:1 ratio, offering up to 40 percent more image than a standard commercial theater. There are more than 360 IMAX commercial theaters in the U.S. and Canada and over 700 worldwide.
Also, when the image is projected onto a floor-to-ceiling IMAX screen, it isn’t simply larger; it is curved, taller and positioned closer to the audience. The result for the viewers is a fuller panoramic view that fills their peripheral vision and immerses them into the film.
IMAX also has a custom, patented surround-sound system featuring 7.1 channel laser-aligned loudspeakers, special theatre design, a proprietary screen and 3D glasses as part of the offering. “We are providing an end-to-end technology solution,” says Lister, meaning elements like image capture, post-production, theatre design, video, audio and service and quality are all involved. IMAX does not provide the seating or carpeting.
Lister would not reveal the specific equipment manufacturers, only to say that everything is made exclusively for IMAX. Purchasers of an IMAX Private Theatre will be able to use a standard digital file for their media, from a Blu-ray disc, server or Prima Cinema. A Blu-ray disc player and server will be specifically integrated into the offering. The system will also support streaming content and client supplied cable or satellite receivers. There will be auxiliary inputs via HDMI for video games, computers, etc.
“IMAX will be continually looking to build out its content library and broaden its access to premium content,” says Lister. “We are also investing great effort into the interface. We realize that it must nestle in with other things in the home. There will be a dedicated controller but it will also be able to be integrated.”
Legendary theater designer Theo Kalomirakis of TK Designs is involved in the project.
Lister says the room size will range from about 10 to 60+ seats, noting that, “At some point it is not consistent with an IMAX experience.” He admits that if the room is too small, then integrators and homeowners will probably not want to do this.