IMAX Releases Study on Multiplex vs. Classic Auditoriums

The somewhat predictable result: "There was no meaningful difference in satisfaction levels between classic design and multiplex design IMAX locations."
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The IMAX company released a report this afternoon detailing a study done with Nielsen detailing the audience satisfaction levels of paying moviegoers in regards to the traditional IMAX screens and the controversial retrofitted multiplex variations that have been popping up in AMC theaters over the last year and change. The somewhat predictable result: 'There was no meaningful difference in satisfaction levels between classic design and multiplex design IMAX locations.' The only caveat I can find in the study is that just 20% of the multiplex correspondents had seen a movie in both versions of IMAX. On the other hand, that means at least 20% seemingly had a choice between the two formats and chose the multiplex variation.

Anyway, you can read the study for yourself (page one and page two) or read the official IMAX summary and statement from CEO Richard Gelfond. I had a chance to speak with Gelfond and Sarah Gormley (Vice President Corporate Communications) in advance of the official roll out of said research results, and they filled me in on several other notes that were not in the official study. To wit -

- While many of the complaints over the new IMAX screens have involved price issues (ie - the smaller screens are no cheaper than the larger rooms), Mr. Gelfond stressed that they do not set prices for the theaters. So take it up with AMC.

- 25% of correspondents who saw Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in IMAX came back to see it in IMAX a second time. 10% of the total survey members were repeat customers in general, having seen the film in 35mm first.

- IMAX hopes to have 250 auditoriums up and running for the release of Avatar.

- Like many corporations, IMAX only announces when everything is set in stone, which explains why IMAX appeared to be the last to know about the Harry Potter 6 date-change, as well as why the announcement that Tron 2.0 would be in IMAX 3D was breaking news twice (once when it was casually announced at Comic-Con, and again last week when IMAX officially announced it).

- Contrary to what I had guessed in an earlier post, IMAX is still a few years away from having enough theaters to have split engagements of major releases. They will continue booking one major film at a time, preferably for at least a three-week engagement. But exceptions will be made under certain circumstances, such as the two week Star Trek run (which then had certain theaters offering midnight Star Trek IMAX showings after Night At The Museum 2 had already debuted).

And that's all for now. There were a few interesting off-the-record bits and pieces, but I'll wait for clearance before posting said tidbits (nothing scandalous, just good news for IMAX fans). As always, for more of this nature, check out Mendelson's Memos.

Scott Mendelson

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