IMAX vs. Regular Theater

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Difference between IMAX and Regular Theater

If you are a movie buff and depending on your point of view, IMAX either represents a significant step forward in the evolution of movie viewing, or it completely misses out on the point of a regular theater. Regardless, this comparison article takes a look at the key points of each.


IMAX is a film format/projection standard developed by the IMAX Corporation. Among the company’s services are design, lease, marketing, maintenance and operation of IMAX film and digital theatre systems. In addition, the company also develops, produces, and distributes IMAX motion pictures. According to the company and some of the technology’s movie fan proponents, IMAX presents a significant advantage over regular theater screens.  


The premise behind IMAX’s supposed superiority lies in its ability to record and display images of far larger size and higher resolution than conventional film systems used in regular theaters. Standard IMAX screens measure 22 x 16.1 m, although there are some that are much larger. There are actually two different varieties of IMAX theatres, including the "Classic Design," and the "Multiplex Design." At present, the largest cinema screen in the world is an IMAX, and it is also the largest IMAX screen currently in use. Towering eight stories high and measuring 35.73 x 29.42 m, the screen is located at the LG IMAX theatre in Sydney, Australia. This one, and most IMAX screens in fact, are much larger than the screens in regular theaters, obviously. But as to whether or not the larger size is worth the cost–and effort in finding an IMAX theater–is in dispute. While it some movies do benefit from the experience that a larger screen provides, it must be said that some regular theaters do feature pretty sizable screens.


This is where most movie buffs split hairs. It generally costs a lot more to watch a movie at an IMAX theater than at a regular theater. In 2011, most IMAX theaters charge about $11 (sometimes up to $19) per ticket, which is more than most casual movie viewers would be willing to pay. Regular theaters on the other hand typically charge $4.50 to $5.00 for a matinee, with regular rates of $8.00 for adults and $6.50 for students. In addition, most regular theaters offer more options with regard to concessions and even restrooms than IMAX theaters, which should sway the audiences a bit more in favor of regular theaters.

Similarities and Differences


  • A film format/projection standard developed by the IMAX Corporation
  • Designs, leases, markets, maintains and operates IMAX film and digital theatre systems
  • Also develops, produces, and distributes IMAX motion pictures
  • Records and displays images of far larger size and higher resolution than conventional film systems used in regular theaters

Regular theater

  • Offers a satisfying enough movie experience in most cases
  • Many feature large movie screens that can compare favorably with IMAX theaters
  • Generally offers more options for concessions and restrooms

Which theater do you visit more often?
  • IMAX
  • Regular Theater

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