Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - IMAX or Cinerama?

For those of you that are debating exactly which movie theater will give you the most bang for your hard earned buck when you are ready to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I have put together some information that I hope will help you make the right choice.

Now, I'm not going to compare every screen in the greater Seattle area, but I am going to give you the lowdown on the two big players. The Seattle Cinerama and the Pacific Science Center IMAX theaters. Right off the bat, you're thinking..."No contest, IMAX wins every time!".

Clearly you need to read my other blog post regarding IMAX.
You can read it HERE, but finish this article first.

Normally, I would agree with the IMAX sentiment assuming the movie is playing in the unbelievably awesome "Boeing IMAX Theater", but keep in mind there are some movies, such as the huge mega blockbuster The Avengers, that have been playing at the Pacific Science Center's still-awesome-but-not-nearly-as-impressive "PACCAR IMAX Theater".

Oh didn't know there was more than one IMAX screen at the Science Center? Well, now that you know, I'm going to keep this simple and just throw down some basic theater screen stats for you to review.

Also, you can rest assured my friends, I do have confirmation that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - An IMAX 3D Experience is indeed showing in the Boeing IMAX Theater so here goes.

The Boeing IMAX Theater:
Height: 60 feet
Width: 80 feet
Capacity: 405
3D Adult Ticket: $14.25

The Seattle Cinerama:
Height: 30 feet
Width: 68 feet
Capacity: 808
3D Adult Ticket: $15.00

For those really wondering, here's one more.

Regal Thornton Place IMAX Theater:
Height: 28.5 feet
Width: 48 feet
Adult IMAX 3D Ticket: $18.00!!
(Yes, that says $18.00!)

The last set of stats is basically what you will also find at the Southcenter Mall IMAX, Alderwood Mall IMAX, and any other "IMAX" theater that is in a mall. If you live in one of those areas, save yourself some cash for popcorn or candy and see the movie on a non "IMAX" screen. You really won't miss anything.

One exception to this is the Lincoln Square theater in Bellevue which, while their IMAX screen is comparable to the Thornton Place example above, they have the distinguished honor of being the one IMAX screen in the state of Washington to show The Hobbit in IMAX and HFR 3D! What's HFR you ask? Keep reading and you will find out!

If you are basing your decision on screen size alone then the Boeing IMAX theater is the easy choice. The screen itself literally towers above anything else and the sound is also unparalleled even when stacked up against the Cinerama's state of the art sound system.

What the Cinerama has going for it is double the seating capacity, more comfortable seats, fold up armrests, cheaper ticket and concession prices, and it is simply the coolest theater you will ever walk in to.

Another key decision-making factor is that The Hobbit does NOT have any scenes that were filmed with IMAX cameras. The movie went through a post conversion process which is the standard way to get a movie on to IMAX screens as the only major motion pictures ever to have any actual IMAX footage are The Dark Knight, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and The Dark Knight Rises.

Now, here is yet another factor that has never come into play for any other movie in the history of film making. Pretty much every movie that has ever been filmed has used a standard format of 24 frames per second which is the image quality and clarity we are all used to.

The Hobbit, on the other hand, was filmed at 48 frames per second which basically means your eyes will see twice as much information being projected on the screen. What does this mean, you ask?
Well, it means the additional information will allow you to see the movie nearly as clear as your eyes see the real world. Combine that with Peter Jackson's use of 3D cameras to film the movie and The Hobbit promises to be the most amazing visual experience ever put on screen.

For even more info, CLICK HERE to visit Peter Jackson's very own Facebook page where he wrote an extensive article on filming in 3D and 48 frames per second. It's pretty in depth, but well worth the read.

Now, you're asking why I even brought this up, am I right? Well, the Cinerama is one of the only theaters in the greater Seattle area that will be showing The Hobbit in BOTH 3D and the 48 frames per second (Now being called HFR or High Frame Rate) format. You will also find the HFR 3D presentation at the Northgate, Southcenter, and The Landing theaters although keep in mind that none of their screens or sound systems come close to what the Cinerama is able to offer.

As I mentioned earlier, the Lincoln Square theater's IMAX digital presentation also utilizes the HFR 3D technology which makes them a very intriguing option. Also throw in the fact that their standard adult ticket price for these shows is $16.75 which is actually lower than the other mall "IMAX" locations. Just keep in mind that their screen is much smaller than the true IMAX presentation that you will find at the Pacific Science Center so you will need to factor that in to the equation as well. In case you are wondering, I did confirm that The Pacific Science Center is showing The Hobbit in 3D at 24 frames per second using their standard 70mm film.

Given this wealth of information, I would say its a close call between the Cinerama's HFR 3D, the Pacific Science Center's IMAX 3D, and Lincoln Square's IMAX HFR 3D presentations, but each of those stands well above any other available option so choose wisely and enjoy the show!

Want to know more about IMAX screens that aren't even anywhere near as big as the non-IMAX Cinerama screen? Go back to the top of the page and check out that other blog post. You may never go back to any of the mall "IMAX" theaters ever again. At least I hope you don't.

CLICK HERE to read my review of the movie.

Thanks for checking out our website!


  1. Doesn't lincoln square show HFR 3D?

  2. Hi Karman, good question! Lincoln Square does not have the HFR 3D option. In the greater Seattle area, you will find it at the Cinerama, Regal Thornton Place Stadium 14 & IMAX, Regal The Landing Stadium 14 & RPX, and AMC Southcenter 16. I have updated this article to reflect those locations.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Hi Marc,

    Lincoln Square claims they're showing it in IMAX HFR 3D.

    That said, it looked glorious at the Science Center!

  4. Thanks for the update on Lincoln Square, either I missed that or they updated their listings since the last time I checked. I also confirmed this info with the official IMAX website which means Lincoln Square is the ONLY theater in the entire state of Washington to offer The Hobbit in this format. Even the Pacific Science Center's IMAX presentation is 24 frames per second, but for my money, I'd still want to see it on their gigantic screen if I'm going to do IMAX!


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