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Metallica’s 3D Movie Will Be Released on Every IMAX Screen in North America

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Metallica IMAX

Metallica’s new 3D movie, Through the Never, is getting the IMAX treatment. Says the band on their official website:

“If you’ve been following along, you know that we’re pretty damn excited about the upcoming release of our 3D film, Metallica Through the Never. Today we have big news as the movie goes extreme next level with IMAX! Starting September 27, 2013 our movie will be shown exclusively on EVERY single screen in EVERY single IMAX theatre in North America for a full week. That’s over 300 theatres that we’ll be unleashing Through The Never to… an IMAX first! There really is no better way than this to experience film and promises to amount to an unprecedented and very unique visit to the movies.

“Don’t have an IMAX theatre nearby? No problem! The movie will roll into additional theatres in full 3D one week later on October 4. In the meantime we’re editing and putting the finishing touches on the film, so keep watching here for many more details, photos, and video clips from our live extravaganza filmed last summer in Vancouver. With so many of you playing a very important role on those nights, we are anxious to begin to share it all with you very soon and we’ll see you in the theatres this Fall!”

I’m not clear if this means the movie’s non-IMAX release has been bumped from the previously-announced release date of August 9, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it was — releasing it at that time would put it up against Elysium, Matt Damon’s new sci-fi action flick from District 9writer/director Neill Blomkamp, which is pretty much guaranteed to dominate the box office that weekend, and is almost certainly targeting the same audience (that is, adolescent boys of all ages).

Regardless, I think it’s important to note that there are almost certainly NOT 300 IMAX screens in North America. See, in the past five or six years, IMAX decided to start putting their brand on screens that are a) considerably smaller than traditional IMAX screens, and b) project movies digitally, not on 70mm film. It might sound like a small detail, but it’s really not — the aspect ratios aren’t even the same, so part of the image is getting cut off on these smaller digital screens (to say nothing of the fact that the 70mm screens have a far higher image resolution than the digital ones). Consequently, film nerds have taken to calling these smaller, digital IMAX screens “LIEMAX.” Here’s a helpful picture from The Dark Knight to give you some sense of the difference between IMAX and LIEMAX:

IMAX vs LIEMAX

See? Really not the same thing.

According to The LA Times, there were only 44 “real” IMAX screens in the United States as of July 2012. Now, it’s obviously possible that additional screens have been built since then, and that Canada and Mexico also add to that figure… but still, I find it hard to believe that this would account for an additional 256 screens. Because it’s so much easier to “install” a LIEMAX theater into a pre-existing multiplex than to construct a brand new giant IMAX screen, the ratio of LIEMAX to IMAX theaters is heavily unbalanced (in Manhattan, for example, there are three LIEMAX screens, but only one real IMAX). And, needless to say, advertising for these theaters doesn’t announce the difference, lest potential ticket buyers be turned off (tickets for IMAX and LIEMAX screens cost the same amount — and usually a good six or seven dollars more than a ticket to a regular screen — despite the massive differences in quality).

So, word to the wise: IMAX is awesome, and if you’re going to see this movie, I have no doubt that this will be the best possible way to view it. Just be careful you’re actually getting what you pay for.

You can read more about the difference between IMAX and LIEMAX here.

 

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