IMAX launches Private Theatre program

IMAX already enjoys a rep as more or less the ultimate cinematic experience. Now it wants to be known for the ultimate home theater experience. The company's new Private Theatre program creates a 4K 3D theater in your home, with 7.1 sound and a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling screen. The design of the theater is based on IMAX's screening room in Santa Monica, Calif., which it uses to screen movies for Hollywood producers and directors.

"IMAX has always been the world leader in creating an immersive entertainment experience," chief technology officer Brian Bonnick said. "We have a world-recognized brand and technology, and we wanted to take that technology into new applications. High-end home theaters naturally fit into the DNA of IMAX. We're providing an immersive experience in the home using the same technology as in the cinema."

According to Bonnick, each Private Theatre includes the same dual-engine 3D projector the company uses in its commercial cinemas, and the same proprietary audio and video processors. The audio processor includes 850 filter bands per channel, run by patented algorithms. Of course, commercial cinema speakers are too large for most home theaters, so IMAX has designed its own speaker system specifically for home theaters, with the same basic design scaled to work in a smaller volume. "Every piece of equipment is designed to work with next piece," Bonnick said. The company provides a touchscreen controller and, of course, a commemorative plaque.

"We do have a plaque design I could show you, but I think I'm going to change it and make it even cooler," Bonnick said.

The process starts with IMAX doing a full theater design, including the acoustical and visual design, the placement of the seating and the projection booth, and the speaker locations in the room, all laid out in CAD files. Lasers are used to position the speakers precisely according to the CAD drawing. The company provides specifications to the homeowner's interior designer so the home theater can comply to IMAX specs while meeting the client's cosmetic desires.

IMAX will work through local electronic systems contractors (i.e. custom installers) as it does now with its commercial cinema projects. "The ESCs have to go through a full training and approval process," Bonnick said. "They will also provide the first level of support, i.e., the fan filter on the projector needs to be replaced. Beyond that level, our support staff gets involved."

To that end, IMAX installs a full array of Internet-connected sensors to monitor the performance of every Private Theatre. "We know when the projector or sound system has a hiccup," Bonnick said. "I can tell you what the brightness on the screen is. We permanently mount microphones in the theater and monitor them so we can assure the sound is optimum from day 1 to day 1000."

The price for an IMAX Private Theatre starts at $2 million. But just think of all the money you'll save on those $16 IMAX movie theater tickets you've been buying!