Last year's Aziz Ansari-initiated uproar over digital IMAX versus "real" IMAX did little to stop the spread of the "poor man"'s large format. More and more theaters are charging extra for converted theaters with slightly larger screens and high-end digital projection and sound. As you may know, IMAX is no longer the only player in the game: over the past few months, Cinemark has been rolling out something it calls "XD" or "Extreme Digital Cinema" at theaters across the country. (IMAX and Cinemark have since hit each other with patent and breach of contract lawsuits.) It promises "extra large, extreme entertainment" and an "intense experience in every seat." But intense sensory experiences don't come cheap: a ticket to an XD showing will run you $3 dollars extra. Here in San Francisco, seeing a movie at the only XD theater costs $14.

I went to see Edge of Darkness in XD on Friday. What struck me was how little effort was even made to pitch it as some sort of "sensory experience." Were it not for a brief, flashy intro -- the sort of AV exhibition we used to see for Dolby Digital and THX -- and the hefty price tag, I wouldn't even have known that I was watching anything special. Once the movie started, I got what I would ordinarily expect from a new, high-end movie theater: a big screen, excellent projection, and powerful sound. No one could have mistaken it for a "large format."
categories Movies, Cinematical