Over the past couple years, there have been a few occasions where I was tempted by studio marketing to see a Hollywood blockbuster on an IMAX screen. (Avatar, for example.) However, each time that I checked the movie listings, the film I was interested in was only showing on a single IMAX screen in far-flung Virginia.
While I have yet to see a feature-length IMAX film, when I'm down at the Natural History Museum or out at Udvar-Hazy (a rare thing I will go to Virginia for), I do enjoy taking in an IMAX movie on one of their humongous screens. The U2 3D one in particular was amazing. Now news comes that Silver Spring will be getting its own IMAX screen, to be constructed within the confines of our lovely Majestic 20 Theater.
While this is welcome news, our enthusiasm over this announcement should be somewhat tempered, as what you might think of as IMAX is likely not what we'll be getting here. The IMAX screens in multiplexes like the Majestic tend to be significantly smaller than the big ass (the official terminology) screens at the Smithsonian and elsewhere.
For perspective, here's a size comparison of a classic giant IMAX screen with what you might find in a multiplex:
(Of course, according to IMAX, you need only sit closer to the screen and it will look bigger... )
Not only is the screen at these multiplex IMAX theaters smaller, but there are other technical aspects in which they are inferior.
Furthermore, if you want the IMAX experience, however scaled down it may be, you're going to pay for it. For example, at the new Tyson's Corner theater, a ticket for a movie on their IMAX screen costs $5 more than the same movie on the standard screen. ($16.50 vs. $11.50.)
For the time being I will withhold judgment and give our new IMAX the benefit of the doubt, hoping they somehow manage to fit a large enough screen into the Majestic to justify the additional five bucks a ticket. I go to so few movies these days, I might as well splurge for even an incremental increase in picture and sound quality.
And hey, it will be MoCo's only IMAX, so suck it Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Rockville, etc.