Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Is the Majestic's IMAX "Experience" Worth the Money? It depends.

If you’ve been to the Majestic 20 lately, you’ve certainly seen how heavily they’ve been promoting the recent addition of an IMAX theater. I finally had occasion this past weekend to check out the new theater for a 9AM (!) showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: An IMAX Experience. The following are my totally non-technical-expert impressions of Majestic’s IMAX.

Screen: It’s about as large a screen as you can jam in a multiplex theater that wasn’t constructed to house a ‘regular’ IMAX (what you’d see down at the Smithsonian). I can’t say what the exact measurements are, but the height is pretty much floor to ceiling. There are fewer seats than in the Majestic’s other large theaters, as presumably many were removed to accommodate the larger screen.

Picture: IMAX’s digital projection system definitely has brighter and richer colors than what you would see on the Majestic’s standard screens, though if you aren’t picky about this sort of thing, you may not notice the difference. The resolution is definitely nowhere close to that of the original IMAX film format, but it’s still an upgrade.

Sound: It’s loud. Very loud. You won’t have to worry about people chatting on their mobile phones because there’s no way they could carry on a conversation. For me, the enhanced sound is IMAX’s biggest draw. Along with being louder, it’s noticeably clearer. I have had serious issues in the past at the Majestic when a theater’s sound was so poor I could barely hear the dialogue. This won’t be ever be a concern in the IMAX theater.

Price: I realize capital improvements were required to install the system, and that the theater needs to recoup those costs, but the ticket prices seem particularly sleep. The tickets for IMAX movies at the Majestic are $17.50 each for adults, compared to $11 for films on standard screens. This $6.50 premium is notably higher than what other theaters in the region charge for IMAX films. For example, the IMAX theaters in Tyson’s Corner and Columbia only charge an additional $5. This seems to be the usual surcharge nationwide. Why are we getting gouged so badly, Majestic? (Though this seems to be the same premium Regal Cinemas charges at its other IMAX theaters.)

Unlike standard movies, there is no matinee price offered for IMAX shows. A 9AM ticket will cost you the same as one for a 9PM showing. Granted, going to a matinee usually only saves you a couple bucks, but hey, it’s something. It should also be noted that the Tyson’s Corner IMAX does have matinee prices.

The “convenience fee” for purchasing IMAX tickets online is $2 per ticket. I can accept the normal $1.25 convenience fee at the Majestic, as it allows me to print my ticket at home and bypass the snaking weekend lines, but there’s absolutely no justifiable reason why this fee should be 60% higher for an IMAX movie.

So before any soda and popcorn purchased, it will cost a minimum of $35 for two people to go an IMAX show, $39 if you buy the tickets in advance.

So, is it worth it? I suppose that depends on the circumstances. If you’re very particular about picture and sound quality, the extra $6.50 might be justified. Maybe you don’t go to the pictures that often, so you can rationalize the extra expense once in a while. Or perhaps you are just rich as hell and don’t give a damn. I think for the select big movies, I’d consider coughing up the extra dough, though for most films I’ll probably stick to the standard screens. Since there’s only one screen, who knows how often it will have the movie I want to see, anyway.



18 comments:

Patrick said...

I saw HP7 there recently and have to say it was a step-up from the normal screens there. The screen was bigger than I expected, and the sound was substantially better. It was quite loud (perhaps a tad too loud), clear and the audio really moved around the sound stage.

You're right, however, that the surcharge is onerous. I would only spring for it on certain kinds of movies. It would have to be a movie that puts a premium on audio and visuals and is something that I really want that grand cinematic experience for. I might consider seeing HP7 pt. 2 in iMax next year, but other than that, I'm not too sure.

I don't go to the movies that often, so the cost isn't that annoying, but it is high enough to discourage me from impulse purchases.

~Patrick Thornton

Anonymous said...

It's shameful that any cinema charges a "convenience fee" for buying tickets in advance via the internet. The price should be lower to encourage more people to come to the movies! Amazing.

Sligo said...

One thing I love about the AFI is the lack of convenience fee. (And their New Zealand-accented ticket machines.)

Patrick said...

You see convenience fees all over the place for using the Internet, despite the fact that it is cheaper, not more expensive for them.

No ticket agents. No printing costs. But they know you hate standing in lines, which is why they try to get away with it.

My favorite is when utility companies try to get away with it. There is no way me sending them a written check that they have to cash (or that could bounce) is cheaper than me paying electronically via my checking account.

Although I guess not standing in line at that theater is probably worth something.

~Patrick Thornton

Adam said...

I may check it out in a few weeks for a showing of Tron Legacy. I hate that it's more expensive than other local theaters, but not enough for me to want to to to Tyson's or elsewhere in Virginia instead. (Especially not this time of year.)

Anonymous said...

IHATEYUPPIES SAID:

Sligo should charge a convenience fee to SS Singular readers. If internet retailers can do it...why not bloggers darn it!

-IHY-

Dan Amitai said...

The Majestic is the worst movie theater. I hate it.

Anonymous said...

What the hell, the Majestic is a really nice theater. It's overpriced and I just netflix things, but as far as theaters go, it's fine. Only in comparison to the AFI is the Majestic crappy.

Anonymous said...

Oooooo I hate the Majestic too. I am seething with hate for this suburban multi-screen theater complex. Why its very existence does mock me!

Anonymous said...

Just some updates, walked by Nicaro today and it is closed. Also, Gazette is reporting that the ice rink could be opened before Christmas, they have finally awarded the contract.

Anyone hear anything on when Babe's Sports bar and grill might be opening?

Anonymous said...

Nicaro is closed for good? Man, I feel like a douche for never trying it...if only they didn't require you to physically sit at the bar to get the HH specials I would have been there plenty. Sad that whoever bought it ran a top 100 restaurant into the ground.

So GA Ave. has added Pacci's, Sidebar, Mr. Chicken, and Fire Station 1 and lost Nicaro and Taste of Jerusalem. I think that's a great trade off considering the economic climate. Word is that there's a tenant signed for the vacant Ceviche space, so with Nando's open and AT&T taking the Ellsworth/GA Ave space, that's 100% occupancy for Ellsworth, right? Pretty darn impressive, Silver Spring.

Springvale Roader said...

I like the Majestic theater; it's the people who go there I can't stand (excepting present company, naturally).

Though I'm a big fan of Olazzo, I wouldn't mind another Italian restaurant opening up in the Nicaro's space. DTSS really has a dearth of decent Italian restaurants.

Looking forward to that ice rink. Thanks for the update, Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

TBD has an article saying that Babe's sports bar is slated to open the weekend of December 18. Pretty bad time for it to open since many people will be away/busy with Christmas, but I'm very happy it's almost up and running. I'd really encourage people to shake yourselves of the Silver Spring car culture and check it out once it opens. We need more places like this in Silver Spring. If you don't live within walking distance, I'm lucky enough to be a 3 min walk to it, simply park in one of the many FREE (after 7pm and on weekends) parking garages and then walk there. Farthest walk would be 10 min, closest maybe 5 min if you park on East West Hwy. I"m just already tired of the complaints that this new bar is "way out there." It's not, for people who aren't ridiculously lazy.

Anonymous said...

I complain that it's "way out there" only in the context of every other bar in Silver Spring being closer to me than Babe's is going to be. Obviously, it's still walkable for anyone living in DTSS and I'm sure we all will in fact walk to it (if it's worth it). Here's hoping they have low priced HH/Sunday drafts and solid food!

Anonymous said...

Washington Post is giving Jackie's a good review. I haven't been there since the chef switch, although I like Sidebar.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/03/AR2010120304146.html

Anonymous said...

IHATEYUPPIES SAID:

I can't wait for Babe's to open. I hope they have plenty of seats for Sunday NFL games. As an Eagles fan stuck in this God awful Deadskins market, I have to scour the area for bars with DirectTV when The Skins have the local airwaves.

Officially, Silver Spring has three sports bars.

1. Galaxy Billiards. What an absolute arm pit. Seriously. The service really sucks. If I play pool at one the tables, there's never a server in sight. You practically have to jump, shout and make facial gestures to get a bartender's attention.

The clientele at Galaxy is a little rough looking. You know it's bad when Montgomery County police is arresting youths walking out of Galaxy on more than one occasion. I can count at least five times when I was walking down Ellsworth that I noticed MontCo cops handcuffing dudes outside of Galaxy. You don't see cops circling like sharks around McGinty's, Copper Canyon or Austin Grill. I swear this place holds Thug Conventions on a weekly basis.

How Galaxy Billiards is able to hold on to its liquor license completely baffles me.

Fire Station One. This place has a serious identity crisis. Only four or five flat-screen TVs for sports viewing. Most of the restaurant floor has sit-down tables. The beer selection is Meh. Is Fire Station #1 really a sports bar or just a ho-hum bar?

At least the clientele does not have rap sheets. And I don't see any bouncers greeting me at the door.

I just hope the thugs stay at Galaxy. I would like to enjoy my drinks, pool and football without getting nasty looks at Babe's.

-IHY-

Eviction Notice Forms said...

Hope these sincere observations would help them wake up and do the needful so that when someone visits this majestic's IMAX at least won't feel the same experience.

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