IMAX coming to local UA - S’head Bay cinemas to go big

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Soon, Brooklyn moviegoers won’t have to travel as far to super-size their cinematic experience.

The borough’s first IMAX theater will be opening before the end of the year, this newspaper has learned.

The United Artists Sheepshead Bay is in the process of converting one of its 14 auditoriums into an IMAX theater, known for a mammoth screen and high-end digital effects.

“Designers and construction crews are already underway transforming one of the auditoriums,” said Russ Nunley, vice president of marketing and communications for Regal Entertainment Group, which comprises United Artists Theaters.

The Brooklyn opening comes 14 years after the city’s first IMAX theater opened its doors.

Nunley said the decision to bring an IMAX theater to a movie house is based upon geography—how close it is to an existing IMAX screen—and also simple economics. “Regal looks at high-performing theaters that already have a large and loyal customer base,” he said.

Nunley said an opening date has not yet been finalized. He would not say what the conversion will cost, but noted that Regal and IMAX will share the cost and profitability.

In March, Regal Cinemas and IMAX announced a joint venture agreement to install 31 IMAX digital projection systems in 20 major markets across the country.

The first group of new theaters are expected to open in time for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: The IMAX Experience,” which opens on Nov. 21, the companies said at the time.

IMAX boasts that it uses the biggest film frame in the world—ten times larger than the standard film frame used to show regular movies. The result is a sharper picture.

When an auditorium is converted, the special IMAX screen, described as “wall to wall, and floor to ceiling” in size,” is moved closer to the audience to maximize the field of view, according to Jackson Myers, a spokesperson for Toronto-based IMAX.

A digital surround sound system will be installed, along with a digital projection system, instead of the standard celluloid method of presenting film, he added.

“All of that is combined with an immersive theater geometry to deliver the IMAX experience,” Myers said.

The crisp sound and killer picture come with a price.

Tickets for IMAX films cost more than a standard movie. “There is a premium price,” Nunley noted, without saying what the Sheepshead IMAX will charge.

There are currently three IMAX theaters, all located in Manhattan, and none below 42nd Street. The first IMAX theater in New York opened in 1994 in Lincoln Square, on Broadway. The Sheepshead Bay theater is located at 3907 Shore Parkway.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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