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UPDATE: Why You Should Not Watch 'The Dark Knight Rises' in IMAX

Update: A few have criticized this post for not being hard enough, so I've added a few points that are anecdotal, and therefore were not added in the original post.

In less than two months The Dark Knight Rises opens in theaters across the world and, in many cases, it will be shown in the IMAX theater format. But, should you try and watch it in IMAX format?

Synopsis: Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the terrorist leader Bane arrives in Gotham City, pushing it and its police force to their limits, forcing its former hero Batman to resurface after taking the fall for Harvey Dent's crimes.

Cast: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy
Director: Christopher Nolan

On July 20, 2012 The Dark Knight Rises opens in theaters in the US.

While Hollywood loves 3-D and is constantly trying to open movies in the format, IMAX is having a quiet revolution. Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations at IMAX said the format is "fulfilling the promise that 3-D didn't keep, that it would be unlike anything you've seen."

It's the first commercial film to film over an hour of footage in the large screen format.

Nolan says IMAX is "the best film format that was ever invented.”  When asked if the next Batman movie would be filmed in 3-D, director Christopher Nolan said,
"The truth is, I think it’s a misnomer to call it 3-D versus 2-D. The whole point of cinematic imagery is it’s three-dimensional. … You know, 95% of our depth cues come from occlusion, resolution, color and so forth, so the idea of calling a 2-D movie a '2-D movie' is a little misleading."

He was critical of 3-D too, saying "On a technical level, it’s fascinating, but on an experiential level, I find the dimness of the image extremely alienating"

So, we don't have a choice. The Dark Knight Rises will not be shown in 3-D. If you want a more powerful movie going experience you can choose to catch it in IMAX format.

But, should you? Is it worth, the effort, time and expense of going to an IMAX show? Here are some things to think about.

A Much More Powerful Movie-Going Experience
First, let's establish something: Watching the last Batman movie The Dark Knight was a powerful experience.
"When you see it (and you will), settle for nothing less than IMAX." Josh Tyler at CinemaBlend said. "They play a key role in setting the tone of the story...Exterior shots, flyovers of the city and amazing, breathtaking chases are done using IMAX, stretching out to cover the entire, enormous IMAX canvas, conveying a tremendous sense of scope by rote of contrast.

"Gorgeous, dark, city flyovers are used to hammer home the size of the world Batman and Joker are operating in, and pummel the audience with the scale of this place and hopelessness of Batman’s task in guarding it. None of that will be quite so evident seen anywhere but in IMAX, and you owe it to yourself, perhaps more with this film than with any other in the history of the format, to see it in the best way possible."

That film only had "25 minutes of IMAX" in it. Can you imagine what we'll say about an hour?

It Might Be A Lot of Work To Find A Theaters
The IMAX format is very specific using special projectors and screens almost six stories high. As of March 31, 2012, there were 643 IMAX theatres (510 commercial multiplex, 20 commercial destination and 113 institutional) in 52 countries. In the United States, only 325 of the nation's 39,000 theaters show commercial films.

It Can Be Tiring
IMAX films can be a tiring experience. The screen is so large that it takes some neck work to see the whole screen. The movie is about two hours and 40 min long. That can get your head swiveling. But, like any movie theater there are good places and bad places to sit. If you can get in line early enough, they say the best seats are in the center of the theater 2/3 of the way up. This gives the best view of the screen and the dome, and is where sound technicians check the film from.

It Might Be Sold out
Tickets for the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX are already sold out in three major cities. Advance tickets for the film go on sale today. Considering how fast those tickets sold, and the small number of theaters, they could all be sold out by the time you finish reading this post.

In fact, the midnight screening of IMAX films sold so fast they crashed several severs in Australia.

It Can Be Expensive
IMAX is the one format that can never be repeated, so if you don't see it in the theaters you'll never see it that way again. Jeff Bock said it best, "Unlike great sound or 3-D glasses, you can't replicate IMAX at home unless you have a six-story screen." It comes with a price. The average movie ticket costs $8. IMAX tickets are around $15. Is it worth spending an extra $7 for the IMAX experience? Only if you skip the popcorn.

It Can Give You Motion Sickness New
A small percentage of the population get motion sickness from IMAX films. I don't, but I don't get motion sickness from anything. Some get sick in the bathtub. That's just the way it is.

The reason this can happen is that IMAX has a curved screen and this can be disorienting to the brain. You're sitting still, but your eyes tell you you're moving. One health site describes motion sickness this way:
Symptoms of motion sickness generally include dizziness, headaches, nausea, and vomiting in various degrees. Some individuals feel just slightly uncomfortable, while others may be affected for hours or days after the trip. Either way, motion sickness is not fatal or even particularly serious.
From the previews there are going to be quite a few shots of things flying and falling from great heights (ex. The "Bat" plane). This might be one of those films that makes you sick. There's no way to know for sure, since we don't know exactly what scenes are in the large screen format. IMAX always gives this warning before the show: "If you get dizzy, close your eyes and sit back. The feeling will pass."

It Can Give You A Headache New
I haven't found any formal reports, but some people complain about getting headaches from IMAX films. This may just be for the 3-D IMAX, like Avatar, but it's worth checking into.

So there you are. IMAX films are expensive, hard to find and tiring. But, if you want to experience the film the way Christopher Nolan intended, you may have to take the plunge.

Tickets are on sale now, so go to your favorite movie site (ex. Fandango) if you want to find an IMAX theater near you or just want to buy advance tickets to The Dark Knight Rises.

UPDATED: If you do decide to go to IMAX, read my follow-up post Where Can You See 'The Dark Knight Rises' In Real IMAX? 


What do you think? Is The Dark Knight Rises worth watching in IMAX format? Have you ever seen an IMAX film?
[Image Source: screenrant]

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  1. Alex J. CavanaughJune 11, 2012 at 6:02 AM

    I've seen a few small films on IMAX (more 'specials' than movies) but never a big release. I haven't felt compelled to seek out an IMAX showing yet. The way Nolan does movies though, I know I won't miss the 3D.

  2. jeremy [retro-zombie]June 11, 2012 at 6:11 AM

    cannot handle the 3d stuff anyway, with this inner ear thing going on... when a fruit bat flew in my ear and laid it's eggs in my ear drum... wait that was just a dream... i don't like 3d films... i get to dizzy. though i thought the dream for just a second would entertain you more... at least for a second.

  3. Alex, I hate to disappoint you, but there is no 3-D showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." Just like "The Dark Knight," it's IMAX or regular. Kind of like New Coke and Classic.

  4. Jeremy, that was one freaky dream all right. LOL A few people have said that IMAX gives them a headache too, but they were talking about IMAX 3-D.

  5. Tony Laplume, Scouring MonkJune 11, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    I saw The Dark Knight a number of times in theaters, and one of those times was in IMAX. There was a difference and it was worth it. I will, should I have the opportunity, do the same with The Dark Knight Rises. I'm not really sure the article made an argument against it so much as made a few points as to why it might be inconvenient.

  6. I'm watching it in IMAX. Already got my ticket.

  7. Michael, so you're the one who crashed the servers! ;)

  8. Thanks for the feedback Tony. It's good to hear from someone who's seen the IMAX glory. I read reports of people getting headaches, but I'm not sure if that's just the IMAX 3-D.

  9. IMAX is awesome, I don't see any reason not too watch it. But my town doesn't have one so I guess it's regular viewing for me.

  10. My sisters want to see it at the Henry Ford in Dearborn which has the real IMAX that's six stories high and whatnot. I guess "Titanic" was amazing in that format, so I imagine TDKR will be even better.

    But the misnomer is a lot of theaters have "IMAX" where the screen is a little bigger but not six stories big. If you're going to pay extra, you might as well get the good stuff.

  11. Good point PT, I wonder how you narrow down the "fake" IMAX from the "real" IMAX?
    Subject: [geektwins] Re: Why You Should Not Watch The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX ~ The Geek Twins

  12. Tom, thanks for the comment. I guess that would be one reason not to watch it in IMAX.
    Subject: [geektwins] Re: Why You Should Not Watch The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX ~ The Geek Twins

  13. Is it just me or were these reasons ridiculous?
    You don't actually provide any real criticism of IMAX itself other than petty reasons like "ooh you might not be able to find a cinema" or "ooh it costs a little more" which are completely situational and dependent on the individual.

    The only real criticism was the seating issue, but I saw Avengers in IMAX from the very side of the cinema, and it didn't detract from the experience for me at all.

    I'll definitely still aim to see DKR in IMAX.

  14. This is just retarded.

  15. Yeah... I'm not at all convinced by any of the reason listed here. The whole write-up came off as pandering for traffic. (In the author's defense, it worked.)

    Tickets might be sold out? Well, sure. That happens with hotly anticipated films -- even on regular screens. I saw TDK on a standard screen, and even then I managed to get my ticket just moments before the whole screening sold out.

    "A Much More Powerful Viewing Experience"? How can that be considered a reason to NOT see the film in IMAX? Including a quote that praises the experience of seeing the former film in IMAX doesn't help your argument all that much.

    Price? I just reserved my seat for the 12:01 showing at my local IMAX, and for only 12 bucks. Given that I caught a midnight showing of "Prometheus" on a standard screen for 10 dollars, I can't really complain about a two dollar mark-up in order to watch one of my most anticipated films of the summer, first showing, and on an IMAX screen.

  16. Maurice I think you forgot to mention that a lot of IMAX theaters aren't real. So a consumer has to do a little research to find a legitimate one.

  17. I'd love to see this in IMAX, but I'm about 82 miles away from the closest theatre. I will do my damndest to see it regardless.

  18. I actually don't care for 3-D or IMAX movies. Oh, and 3-D Imax, forget it. It's just a personal preference. The cashier always looks at me strange when I say I don't want the 3-D version. I CAN't go to either with my son due to his sensory issues. Talk about overwhelming. :)

  19. Colin, these theaters are hard to find but hopefully there will be more soon

  20. Jsironstories, thanks for the comment. $12? I was way off. I guess I should have started with, "IMAX sucks!" and gone from there.

  21. Thariddler, that's good advice! I didn't know there was a difference until I read it in the comments.

  22. I haven't seen an IMAX movie yet, but i rarely go to the theater. I'm more a dvd kind of gal. But i may branch out and go see Prometheus IMAX with some friends this week.

  23. Just call the theater in question and ask if it's digital IMAX or 70mm film.

  24. By the way, congrats on another /Film mention. You guys are definitely doing something right.

  25. Thanks Colin! It's an honor to get a nod from /Film.

  26. This article is joke. Everyone should see TDKR in IMAX if the opportunity is available.

  27. Sam, these are valid points. Thanks for weighing in on this. I've updated the list with a few points that go beyond it just being inconvenient. Enjoy IMAX

  28. Ciara, there are a number of people that have trouble with the IMAX and 3-D format. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  29. It's a fair one that you've tried to back yourself up, but I can't help now feeling like you're just scrambling for reasons to not go to IMAX regardless of your initial research or position, as though you now have decided that rather than concede that there's nothing wrong with IMAX, you'd rather just keep looking for things to back up your original point, which doesn't come across with all that much credibility, sorry.

    On a side note, headaches are a 3D thing as far as I'm aware, not just limited to IMAX.

  30. Sam, I can totally see your point. I know it's hard to believe, but I did come across these points in my original research (note my response to Tony LaPlume yesterday), but thought. "Well, I can't really prove that it's IMAX that caused the problem. So, I'll just leave them out." I'm a hardcore TDK fan, but not everyone loves it enough to deal with IMAX issues. I've learned a lot from the feedback about IMAX though, so I do appreciate your constructive criticism. :)

  31. I reccommend everyone see the movie in IMAX if available. I saw The Dark Knight in IMAX twice(storm cut it off 3/4 the way through during a pre screening a couple nights before release, so we got to come back the next night to watch it again for free), and then 2 more times on a standard screen. The IMAX was noticably better in every way. Not just the huge screen, but also the sound as well. There's base to it, you feel the loud bangs of guns and explosions etc. Then when I went to the normal standard theatre, that oompf of the sound just didn't feel even half as heavy.

    I reccommend everyone try it. Its definitely worth the extra few bucks for the bigger movies you want the best experience out of. I have my tickets already and can't wait. Family and friends agree that saw it in both versions, everyone loved the IMAX and made it a day 1 purchase for this next film, getting tickets as soon as they became available. That's how good it was.

    The reasons on this list were simple nitpicks, which can be made about standard viewing as well.

    -Tickets cost money regardless, bigger the screen and better sound, you pay a few dollars more. You want normal viewing, smaller screen, less sound quality, you pay normal price. You get what you pay for, as with anything.

    -Can't finding an imax theatre or it being sold out is not a complaint...either its an option because its close or its not. That's no reason against seeing it. If there's one within 20 min. away and tickets available, go for it. Same with saying it takes effort to finding an imax tneatre. It takes effort to find ANY theatre if you aren't familiar with the area you're living in. A simple few clicks on your mouse and keyboard or phone can find one in 3 minutes or less. Jeeze...if someone is THAT lazy and cramped for time, they shouldn't be spending 2 and a half hours at a movie theatre regardless.

    -It can be tiring? Really...? Its not like you are constantly moving your head left to right. You CAN see the entire screen. It just takes up your whole view, but you do have such a thing as peripheral vision for that. You move your neck throughout the whole day, and constantly use your eyes, what's 2 and a half hours really gonna do? Seriously grasping at straws here.

    -The headaches issue is more related to the 3d than imax. I've seen a few 3d movies outside imax and I always get a headache after a while. 3d is proven to cause headaches after hours of viewing. Imax however is not linked to headaches, never got a headache from the 6 times I've viewed imax.

    -Motion sickness once again is more related to the individual, and any movie could cause it based on the scenes and how its filmed(shaky cam = motion sickness).

    All these reasons were nitpicking petty complaints at best. Nothing presented was actual reasoning why you shouldn't go to an imax over standard. If there's someone whose super strapped for time, extremely lazy, no neck muscles, bad eyes, bad issues with motion sickness or headaches when it comes to movies, doesn't have 5 extra dollars to spare, and no way of finding a theatre with any sort of ease...you really think they need a list like this to tell them that they aren't fit for imax viewing? They sound like they have enough problems, I doubt they are viewing a website like this just to find out why they potentially can't see it in imax over regular. I REALLY hope nobody is on the fence and looks at this list and decides not to give it a try if the option is available and they have the money to spend on it. Judge for yourself people.

    I did like the real imax vs fake imax article though. Thank you for that. That's informative. This...not so much. Heh have a good one everyone and enjoy the film.

  32. For anyone wondering what the difference between real IMAX and "fake" IMAX(digital converted to have a slightly bigger screen but not true IMAX as its still way smaller than real IMAX), and wondering why you SHOULD see it in IMAX, go to this link: http://www.lfexaminer.com/WhySeeDarkKnightRisesInIMAXfilmTheater.htm
    Here's also a list of theatres with IMAX, and it lists the real ones and the fake ones, so you know which is which. http://www.lfexaminer.com/ (Just click US theatres or International theatres on the sidebar)

  33. Saw the movie today in IMAX with my son. It was simply awesome. The most powerful of the three movies was only strengthened by being seen in the most powerful theater going movie experience both sound wise and visually. Of course since seeing it I've become aware of the tragedy in Aurora and that is deeply saddening. But if you are going to see the film, I say see it in IMAX. WE LOVED IT!

  34. I have seen a lot of movies in IMAX since they were created and I never experienced a single little problem with them. Why are you asking for so much attention? If you have a problem with IMAX screens then the title would be "Why you should not see movies in IMAX? What does TDKR has to do with this? + This article should be for people 50 and above IMO.

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