Sheffield takes it to the IMAX

Now before we get to the meat of this look at Sheffield’s first IMAX screen (and 3D extrav John Carter of Mars) I need to confess something…
Prior to last night, I was both an IMAX and 3D virgin.
I know, I know! And I’ve the audacity to call myself a film-buff.
You see, I’ve always adopted an ‘if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it’ mantra to cinema going, so it was with a certain degree of apprehension that I entered Cineworld at Valley Centertainment for a gala shindig and preview of John Carter of Mars.
So what is IMAX? I’m glad you asked. *surreptitiously reads from Cineworld press release* –
The IMAX Experience® combines patented crystal-clear digital projection, powerful digital sound, the installation of a larger, slightly curved and specially treated IMAX screen and customised theatre geometry designed to maximize audiences’ field-of-view.
Sounds fun, no? It’s HiDef for the cinema, basically and Cineworld’s gala launch started off with a drinks reception up at the bar. Very nice indeed! If all 3D IMAX screenings have this built in I could hop on board very easily. And what was this? Nibbles? Boxes were being ticked left, right and centre. But then we spotted Cineworld man-with-the-clipboard Andy…
“Is there any chance of us getting up in to the projection box, Andy?” I asked, sheepishly. After a few interjections on the old walkie-talkie, we were steered up the back stairs and through various doors. We were led past the projection boxes for the normal screens, which were big enough, before spotting the large black box labelled ‘IMAX’. One of the tricks up IMAX’s wizard-like sleeve is the double projector that they use, which results in better brightness, contrast, and image. The sound is delivered through a special IMAX sound mix, resulting in a more balanced and accurate sound. Basically, it's a far cry from the old Betamax we use to have in our front room.

The auditorium transformed for the new setup is fondly known by Sheffielders as ‘The Full Monty’. It opened a few months before the film and it’s the largest room at Cineworld. The new screen is a full six meters closer to the seats and engineers have raised the roof by some four metres to fit it in.
At 7.00pm prompt we shuffled our way in to the theatre (free bags of popcorn were on the seats, too). After being introduced by a Cineworld and IMAX representative, who gave special thanks to Karen Godfrey, Cineworld Sheffield General Manager, the lights were dimmed and the projectors kicked in. We were shown typical trailers, but when the 3D flicks were advertised, the anticipation around the room increased. To say the picture was sharp is an understatement. IMAX is to cinema what Blu-Ray was to VHS. The sound was even clearer than normal, and fully immersive – so that no matter where you sit the experience is still unique.
I won’t spoil John Carter of Mars – Exposed’s Ali will be along to put it to the sword shortly – but the IMAX experience was everything I’d hoped for. The sound and picture boasted unsurpassable clarity, and even if the 3D of the movie itself was slightly fuzzy at times (IMAX doesn’t leave anywhere to hide) – it still aided the picture magnificently.
With potential box-office smash hits The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Men in Black 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man all on the horizon, Cineworld's latest investment has come at the perfect time for them and for Sheffield.
John Carter of Mars is out today. Tickets for Cineworld IMAX are available now.
Photographs by Marek Payne. Words by Richard Preston.
We've got ten pairs of tickets to any movie at the Cineworld Sheffield IMAX screen to give away for any of the hugely exciting films showing over the next two months. Want to get your hands on a pair? Just pop over to the Exposed Awards Voting Page and tell us all about your favorite Sheffield things. But you'll have to be quick! We're only accepting entries for the next 24 hours!  


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