As noted previously, IMAX is extending — some would say blurring — the IMAX brand by retrofitting existing multiplex theaters with larger screens and upgraded sound systems. The Wall Street Journal reports that competitors are moving into the territory of what might be termed “low-end large screen” cinema projection.
The converted IMAX theaters have generated a considerable criticism since, while their screens are larger than those of the typical multiplex, their dimensions pale by comparison to traditional IMAX installations. Confounding the issue, the company doesn’t communicate that difference in their marketing, branding both types of installations simply as “IMAX.” (See “The IMAX Conundrum.”)
According to the Journal, other companies are following IMAX’s lead and are introducing larger screens — and charging a premium ticket price. Cinemark Holdings has introduced their Cinemark XD — Extreme Digital Cinema — with large screens and an enhanced sound system. And AMC Entertainment has introduced their ETX, or Enhanced Theatre Experience, in IMAX’s home turf in Toronto.
The article doesn’t include information on the dimensions of screens on these new systems, so it isn’t clear how they compare with IMAX’s retrofits.
But this underscores the brand dilution peril IMAX faces if the company fails to differentiate its original IMAX format from the newer, smaller format upon which competitors are now encroaching.
The photo illustration above is based on the IMAX logo, the copyright for which is most likely owned by IMAX Corp. It is believed that its use as modified here for critical commentary qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.