Image Maximum (IMAX) is a film format created by the Canadian company IMAX Corporation that has the ability to show images much larger in size and resolution than conventional film viewing systems. A standard IMAX screen is 22 meters (72 feet) wide and 16.1 meters (52.8 feet) high, but can be larger. In 2008, IMAX became the most widely used system for large-format and special feature films. As of March 2007, there are 280 IMAX theaters in 39 countries (60% of them located in Canada and the United States). Half of these theaters are commercial and half are educational. In September 2014, the total number of IMAX rooms in the US passed the 400 mark.
Variations on the traditional IMAX format include IMAX Dome (180° projection, differentiated room geometry), IMAX 3D and IMAX Digital. The largest IMAX Dome screen in the world is the IMAX Big Cinemas in Mumbai, India with a screen area of 1,180 m2 (12,700 square feet). The largest rectangular IMAX screen in the world is located at the IMAX Theater Sydney in Sydney, Australia, measuring 1,051 m2 (11,315 sq ft) and also equipped to show movies.
The normal IMAX multiplex resolution is 4K adjusted to look larger, the specialized complex has a resolution of 10,000 by 7,000 pixels, and movies can be produced in 35mm or 70mm.
Use of film
The desire to increase the visual impact of film has a long history. In 1929, Fox introduced the Fox Grandeur, the first 70mm film format, but it quickly fell out of favor. In the 1950s CinemaScope (1953) and VistaVision (1954) enlarged the 35 mm film image, following multi-projector systems such as Cinerama (1952). While impressive, Cinerama was expensive to deploy and difficult to maintain.
During Expo 67 in Montreal, Kroitor's In the Labyrinth and Ferguson's Man and the Polar Regions both used multi-projector, multi-screen systems. Each encountered technical difficulties that led them to found a company, initially called "Multiscreen", with the main objective of designing and developing a simpler approach.
The single-projector/single-camera system they ended up installing above was designed and built by Shaw based on a "Rolling Loop", film-transport technology purchased from Peter Ronald Wright Jones, a Brisbane machine shop worker. Australia (see US Patent US3494524).
When it became apparent that a single, large-screen image had more impact than several smaller ones, it was a more viable product direction, so Multiscreen changed its name to IMAX.
First IMAX movie
Tiger Child, the first IMAX film, was demonstrated at Expo '70 in Osaka, Japan. The first permanent installation of IMAX was at the Cinesphere Theater at Ontario Place, Toronto. The premiere was in May 1971, showing the film North of Superior. The room is still in operation. However, Ontario Place is currently closed for renovation.
Larger expo screen
During Expo '74 in Spokane, Washington, an IMAX screen measuring 27 m × 20 m (89 ft × 66 ft) was featured in the United States pavilion (the largest structure at the expo). About five million visitors saw the screen, which covered the viewer's full field of view when looking straight ahead. This created a sense of movement for most viewers, and motion sickness for some.
An IMAX 3D theater is also in operation near the former Expo 67 at the Montreal Science Center at Port Old Montreal.
The first permanent IMAX Dome facility, the Eugene Heikoff and Marilyn Jacobs Heikoff Dome cinema at the H. Fleet Science Center Reuben, opened in San Diego Balboa Parkin in 1973. It functions as a planetarium.
The first permanent IMAX 3D theater has been set up in Vancouver, British Columbia