BIG screen fans today gave a big thumbs up to the biggest cinema experience in Europe - with the launch of a giant IMAX 3D theatre at Cineworld Sheffield, writes digital editor Graham Walker.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our exclusive video report from the IMAX 3D gala opening night.
The screen is more than two-and-a-half times as long and almost three times as high as a London double-decker bus.
At a massive 70ft x 39ft 5in, it completely fills the viewer’s entire peripheral vision and is the second biggest digital IMAX screen in the world, though Sheffield is now believed to be the biggest IMAX auditorium, with nearly 600 seats.
And complete with a state-of-the-art surround sound system, the £1 million IMAX investment has been worth every penny according to film lovers invited to a gala opening and screening of sci-fi fantasy adventure John Carter.
Among them was a real John Carter - who came forward after an appeal in The Star.
The 40-year-old IT worker, of Chesterfield Road, Sheffield, who attended with children Ewan, 13, and nine-year-old Isobel, said: “It was also a great film. Not quite as exciting as my life with two children, but it was very good. The IMAX experience was excellent.”
But it was not just Sheffield’s cinema going public who gushed about the ultimate 3D experience.
Larry O’Reilly, IMAX President of worldwide sales, thought he had seen it all until he stepped into what was the Full Monty auditorium, now fitted out with his company’s latest digital IMAX technology.
He said: “Instead of just watching the movie you are actually going to experience it. It’s in your face. You don’t have the chance to turn away, you are at the mercy of the director. You are going to be right in the middle of the story.
Crispin Lilly, Cineworld vice president of business affairs, said Sheffield was one of their first sites to get IMAX as a thank you to cinemgoers who have turned it into one of the busiest cinemas in the country.
He said: “We’re looking forward to see what John Carter does this week and the line up of IMAX films this year is tremendous, including Amazing Spiderman, new Batman film Dark Knight Rises, the next Bond film Skyfall and The Hobbit.”
Andy Meakin, Cineworld Sheffield operations manager, said: “We’re the first and only cinema in Sheffield that is going to be able to show IMAX films. It’s another big feather in our cap.
“There’s a slight uplift on price to see an IMAX film, but the experience is something absolutely fantastic.
“It’s not just the bigger picture, it’s the more enhanced sound. When it comes to films like Dark Knight Rises, Amazing Spiderman and Men In Black III, I don’t think there’s going to be an empty seat in the house on opening weekends, in IMAX they look stunning.”
* John Carter is now on general relase and showing daily on the IMAX screen at Cineworld Sheffield. For information and bookings visit cineworld.co.uk.
WHAT FILM-GOERS SAID AT THE IMAX GALA LAUNCH:
Tanasity Slack: “It was absolutely amazing - incredible. I’ve never experienced or witnessed anything like that. IMAX is definitely an event that you need to see. Like definitely. But I don’t think you would want to watse a chick-flick on IMAX.”
Lauren Steeper: “It fills your field of vision a lot more. It makes you feel a lot more like you are there. It’s the kind of thing you’d want to go see big action adventure blockbujsters like that. And perhaps still room for quiet films in other theatres.”
Steve Clarke: “The IMAX experience was incredinble. It was completely overwhelming. It’s the first time I’ve been to an IMAX presentation in about 15-years and it’s come a long way - with the 3D as well. It’s a totally immersable experience. And the sound as well - it’s not just about the picture. I don’t think you’ll really appreciate it until you go back into a normal cinema and see that small screen. How do you go home and watch TV after that? You don’t!”
Emily Guy: “I thought it was absolutely incredible. It actually felt like things were coming at you. I was close to the back and it was just so big even then. I don’t want to go back to normal films after that.”
Nyssa Blake: “It was amazing. It was so much more than you would expect. I’m now looking forward to the new Batman movie, Dark Knight Rises.”
Debby Rice: “I was absolutely blown away. It was fantastic. It’s just immense. It would make any film you watch epic. I can’t wait to come back for more. I want to see Wrath Of The Titans and Hunger Games. John Carter was fantastic. It was really deep. Absolutely go and see it. It was epic. I’ve seen some great filma here but that just beat them all.” Sophie Spray: “It was absolutely amazing. We were sat quite close to the screen. It was massive. Just mind-blowing. The film was also very good. I barely blinked. It was captivating and got the audience involved.”
Adnan Mustafa: “I loved it. I’ve watched IMAX films before but I’ve been coming to the cinema for years and it was great. I’ll recommend friends to come down and watch it, to check out films in IMAX.”
John Dickinson: “The IMAX experience was amazing. It’s definitely the next step, where cinema is going. The screen goes from the ceiling to the floor, you are fully immersed in there. It’s fantastic. The film was like a mash-up between Flash Gordon and Star Wars.If you’re a science fiction fan you are going to be blown away.”
Jason Banks: “It’s brilliant. I didn’t know what to expect. The 3D was a lot better than normal 3D films - it was perfectly clear. It’s very impressive. I was impressed with the sheer size. But when the sound kicked in, the sound impressed me. I’ll defintiely be coming back to see certain films. Action and sci-fi films will defiunitely be worth watching in IMAX 3D.”
John Carter (the ‘real’ one): “It was also a great film. Not quite as exciting as my life with two children -,but it was very good. The IMAX experience was excellent. I’m not a huge fan of 3D, I have to say. But The IMAX was very good.”
Ewan Carter: “It was really good. The picture came out at you and the sound made you vibrate.”
Isobel Carter: “I loved the film when the green people came running towards you. It sounded very good. And the 3D was great. When it first came on I jumped. It was proper scary.”
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IMAX IN NUMBERS:
2 tons: Weight of the IMAX projectors - each is 178cm (70 ins) tall and 195cm (77ins) long
21.43 metres: Screen width (70ft)
12.02 metres: Screen height (39ft 5ins)
24: Frames per second.