Moviegoers can now experience IMAX format in Tyler theater

Published on Sunday, 22 December 2013 22:46 - Written by STEWART SMITH ssmith@tylerpaper.com

There’s a brand new experience available to East Texas moviegoers: the IMAX experience.

Patrons used to have to drive to Dallas or Shreveport to take advantage of IMAX theaters, but Carmike Cinemas has chosen Tyler to be one of only 10 markets nationwide to have an IMAX auditorium added to an existing venue.

“We have had unbelievable success with our premium BigD format in Tyler. And looking at the analysis, there appears to be a very high demand for a premium experience in the movie business in Tyler,” said Fred Van Noy, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Carmike Cinemas.

IMAX theaters are typically known for their massive screens. And while the screen featured in the new theater is noticeably larger than the BigD, it’s not as big as some might immediately expect when they hear the word “IMAX.”

“We did raise the ceiling and the inside of the building, so it is as big as it can possibly get without raising the roof. We had to work within our limitations of the size of the building, but the true immersiveness of the IMAX experience is at the Carmike 14,” Van Noy said. “It is 100 percent certified by IMAX and meets all of the criteria by them and we are extremely excited to bring this technology to Tyler.

That said, after spending time talking with Carmike and IMAX representatives, it becomes clear that the IMAX format is about much more than just the sheer size of a screen. IMAX auditoriums contain uniquely tuned and arranged sound systems (including a wall of 32 subwoofers) that catch the audience in a crossfire of sound. Each also has multiple projectors for optimal 3D projection (that also are capable of displaying in High Frame Rate), specially constructed screens and a projection system that is calibrated every day to ensure that the presentation is at its optimal level.

In other words, IMAX is about providing an immersive experience, said Mark Westenmeyer, district manager for Carmike Cinemas.

“IMAX is all about quality and immersing you into the movie,” he said. “You know how we usually do surround (sound)? IMAX uses directional sound. The speakers are strategically targeted so that the audience can get the full range of sound. You’re not really going to hear from left or right, it’ll sound like you’re in the middle of the movie. (IMAX) has definitely done their research when it comes to all of this stuff.”

Additionally, every film that shows in an IMAX theater is specifically adjusted for optimum presentation. Studios will ship their film to IMAX so that the film’s sound can be mixed to take advantage of the speaker arrangements and the picture adjusted to align with the company’s already high projection standards.

“IMAX is about immersion, it’s about quality. It’s about getting more out of your movie, it’s not just about size,” Westenmeyer said. “It used to be you had to drive to Dallas or to Houston to see (IMAX), but now East Texas can come to Tyler and watch those types of movies now. We’re real excited about it.”

And for those that enjoyed the BigD theater, Carmike is keeping that format active. (It is their proprietary projection technology, after all.) Tyler audiences will now have the option of choosing between IMAX and BigD for their premium screening experience.

The IMAX auditorium is open for business at Carmike 14, 7415 S. Broadway Ave. There is a $5 surcharge for all IMAX screenings in 2D, with an additional $2 premium for 3D screenings.