Monday, November 25, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - IMAX 3D or Cinerama HFR 3D?

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: The Desolation of Smaug, 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 Avengers and Gravity, 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, we do have confirmation that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 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
IMAX 3D Adult Ticket: $14.75

The Seattle Cinerama:
Height: 30 feet
Width: 68 feet
Capacity: 808
HFR* 3D Adult Ticket: $15.00
(*High Frame Rate)

For those really wondering, here's one more.

Regal Thornton Place IMAX Theater:
Height: 28.5 feet
Width: 48 feet
Adult IMAX 3D Ticket: $18.25!!
(Yes, that says $18.25!)

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, 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 contain any scenes that were filmed using actual IMAX cameras. The filmmakers actually implemented a digital post conversion process which is the standard way to get a movie on to IMAX screens from the original source material. In fact the only major motion pictures ever to have any actual IMAX footage to this point would be:

Now, here is yet another factor that has only ever come into play with the release of last year's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. 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 have all been used to watching for most or all our lives.

Both of the Hobbit movies, on the other hand, were filmed at 48 Frames Per Second which basically means your eyes will see twice as much information being projected on to 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 and this promises to be one of the most amazing visual experiences 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 currently the only theater in the greater Seattle area that will be showing The Hobbit in BOTH 3D and the 48 Frames Per Second (HFR or High Frame Rate) format. You will find the HFR 3D presentation at several theaters in the greater Seattle last year (Check local listings) although keep in mind that none of their screens or sound systems come close to what the Cinerama is able to offer in overall quality.

As I mentioned earlier, Lincoln Square'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 into the equation as well. In case you were 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 and the Pacific Science Center's IMAX 3D presentations, but either of them stands well above any other available option so choose wisely and enjoy the show!


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