Laser IMAX – format of the future? – Kermode Uncut

Laser IMAX Laser IMAX is a format I’m very excited about, generally because I love a big film showing in IMAX that’s been shot with IMAX cameras (or at least partially in IMAX), but while most recent modern films are shot in digital IMAX, they only have a widescreen aspect ratio that opens up to around 1.89:1, while IMAX footage shot on film can open right up to 1.44:1 – but that’s only as long as the cinema supports it.

For example, my favourite IMAX cinema (as I live oop North) is the Odeon Manchester Printworks. It’s capable of showing films in 1.44:1 and is also the second largest IMAX screen in Europe (second after the BFI in London). As such, it was one of just FOUR cinemas chosen to screen Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar in 70mm IMAX, an experience which is forever burnt into my retina because, as good as the subsequent Blu-ray release is, that version can only open up to 1.78:1 (16:9) for those scenes, so outside of a cinema I will never see its true majesty again (and I really want to see the extended version with an extra 12 minutes of IMAX footage).

However, IMAX film stock is depleting, and as things stand Nolan, together with Warner Bros, have bought up all the remaining stock, so any other studios’ movies are shot with digital IMAX. These include last year’s Transformers: Age Of Extinction, which was a visual treat even if it went on far too long.

So, I’m hoping that Laser IMAX is the answer to bringing back films with footage in 1.44:1 format, but I’m still to find out whether that’s possible. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is rumoured to have some scenes in that format according to IMDB, even if someone’s listed it as 1.43:1, but I also don’t know whether Manchester Printworks will have Laser IMAX installed by then.

In the meantime, Robert Zemeckis’ new film, The Walk, recently premiered in London in Laser IMAX, and despite it not being filmed with IMAX cameras, it was shot with Deep Vision 3D cameras in 6K resolution so still looked stunning when I saw it on Monday at the Odeon Trafford Centre IMAX. Yes, I’d preferred to have seen it at the Printworks, but the parking in town is an absolute dog, let alone the diversions courtesy of the Tory conference, the Mancunian way sinkhole and a zillion others put in for no reason by Manchester City Council.

In the latest Kermode Uncut video below, from film critic Mark Kermode, and with Dave Norris, aka “The Last Projectionist Standing”, they talk about how the IMAX film’s Xenon lamp has been replaced with a laser beam with a wider colour palette, so the blacks are blacker and the whites are whiter (which is starting to sound like a washing powder advert, but I get what they’re driving at).

The video takes place at the Empire Leicester Square cinema, where we learn their Laser IMAX has 12 foot-lamberts (a unit of luminance), and that most cinemas have an average of 3.5-6 foot-lamberts. But, does this solve the 3D brightness problem? And since these are laser beams, in the best-known line from Marathan Man… is it safe?

Check out the Kermode Uncut video below about Laser IMAX – entitled Laser Beams – for all the answers, and click on the poster of The Walk for the full-size version:

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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