The local papers are making a lot of fuss about the Crawley multiplex opening an IMAX screen next month.
On the face of it this is a good thing. At the moment there are only 19 IMAX screens in the UK, so it is a bit of a coup. The only worrying thing is that there is a bit of controversy about whether some of the newer screens are proper IMAX or just big screens. I went to one of the proper ones, the one at Waterloo, and it really is stunning with the steeply raked seating which puts you close to the screen which fills your field of vision.
Some people (like Roger Ebert) have been less than impressed with the retro-fitted digital IMAX screens and feel they are not sufficiently different to a normal multiplex screen to warrant the extra few pounds on the ticket.
I’ll wait and see what the new one in Crawley is like, but I’ve got a bad feeling about it at the moment. I also have a feeling that the distiction of being one of only 20 screens in the country will be short-lived if it is such an easy makeover – the large chains will be converting existing screens all over the place if it is that easy.
The thing is, there would easily be a market for a proper, purpose-built, IMAX screen in the area in addition to the existing screens so if the new one turns out to be the same seating, same digital projection, and same sound but just a slightly larger screen it will be a missed opportunity.
Any cinema technology anoraks out there got a more informed opinion on this?