Over the past 3 years, PVR and other chains have been expanding their chains by inaugurating new theatres in various formats at a very fast rate, especially in metro cities. Delhi NCR has now has several several IMAX, 4DX, Onyx, Playhouse, P[XL] screens with Screen-X coming pretty soon. A lot of my friends don’t understand what’s the difference between them, and why they should pay extra money to watch in these screens.
Playhouse is simply a theatre concept started by PVR, for children to enjoy films for children while also having swings inside the theatre, in case they feel bored. Read more about it in this Instagram highlight!Where as Onyx is a large Samsung LED screen, which plays without a projector. Much like your TV, except huge. Where as, I’ll write a blog on P[XL] soon enough!
Today, I’m here to talk about IMAX and 4DX. I personally believe that when we watch a film, its really important to get the experience the directors want us to get. And, hence, the format plays a big role in our experience of a movie. As you read ahead, I’ll try to explain what the two formats are, and what factors you should keep in mind while deciding on where you should watch the film to get the best possible experience.
Before I start, I must share my experience with you, which makes me eligible enough to talk about the two here. I’ll update the list as and when I visit them again.
Movies I’ve watched on IMAX:
- Doctor Strange (Digital 3D) (PVR Logix, Noida)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (Digital 3D) (PVR Logix, Noida)
- Avengers: Infinity War (Digital 3D) (PVR Logix, Noida)
- Captain Marvel (Digital 3D) (PVR Logix, Noida)
- Shazam (Digital 2D) (PVR Logix, Noida)
- Avengers: Endgame (Digital 3D) (PVR Logix, Noida)
- The Lion King (Digital 3D) (PVR Select City Walk, Saket)
- Joker (Digital 2D) (UA Cine Moko, Hong Kong)
- Frozen II (Digital 3D) (PVR Logix, Noida)
- 1917 (Laser 2D) (PVR Select City Walk, Saket)
Movies I’ve watched on 4DX:
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (PVR Logix Noida)
- Captain America: Civil War (PVR Logix Noida)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp (PVR Logix Noida)
- Avengers: Endgame (PVR Logix Noida)
- Aladdin (PVR ECX Mall of India Noida)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (PVR Forum Mall Koramangala)
Let’s first start with comparing the screens of the two.
4DX has a smaller screen, compared to what you would find in a regular theatre. Whereas, in an IMAX theatre, the screen is huge. It’s a curved screen, and much larger than a regular theatre. Moreover, the thing I like the most about an IMAX screen is that it covers the whole front wall, from top to bottom. Unlike other theatres, who’ll have a large portion of the front wall empty, and used for Fire Extinguishers, a small stage or even an exit gate, which are somewhat distracting, there’s nothing like that on an IMAX screen. When the movie is playing, and you look at it, all you’ll be able to see is the movie.
Also, another plus point of an IMAX theatre is that you get to see 26% extra picture, because of a different aspect ratio it uses. This extra image is not seen in any other format. See the difference yourself:
Now, comes another important part, 3D technology used by these two formats.
A sequence plays before every IMAX film, which ends with this phrase. And, each of the 4 times I’ve watched it on screen, I’ve been mesmerised by how true it is. IMAX 3D is easily the most immersive form of 3D technology out there. Of course the different aspect ratio helps it achieve that, but its also the technology they use. IMAX uses 2 different projectors to project horizontal and vertical image, which is then combined as one by the IMAX 3D glass to show the 3D effect. Further, unlike RealD 3D, the screen does not get dark on wearing the 3D Glasses.
4DX uses the 3D technology that the Multiplex Chain uses, which is generally RealD 3D. The image does get quite dark with the glasses on, but it has more depth than IMAX does.
Now, don’t get confused. IMAX 3D is more immersive than RealD 3D, because it tends to let the 3D effects come out of the screen, while RealD 3D creates more depth behind the screen.
But, IMAX 3D doesn’t come without its flaws. Unlike in RealD 3D, IMAX 3D is not resistant to your head movements. Which means, if you tilt your head during an IMAX movie, the screen will get somewhat blur. It doesn’t matter that much, but during long screenings, you might want your neck to have a little exercise.
Now, let’s talk about what makes 4DX stand out, its 4D features.
4DX advertises itself by saying that it given an immersive experience, but I just said IMAX is more immersive. Well, here comes the difference.
A 4DX theatre boasts of its several signature effects, such as seat motion, wind, smell, lightning, smoke and many more, which makes it feel like you’re where the action is happening. Your seats seem to run during a car chase, while wind will blow at a perfect angle when the character flies. Water comes at your face when it rains (not enough to make you drain), while the room is filled with mist on smoke or dust related scenes.
Another advantage these features give you is that there would be no forced intermission during the film, which Indian exhibitors tend to practice. Thus, you get to experience the whole film in one go, without any break, just how its meant to be.
But, at several times, these effects turn out to be distracting. While you’re at the centre of the action, it becomes a little difficult to catch the dialogues. And, the motion is several times way too much overdone, that it stops feeling like being in the movie, but unnecessary movements.
So, that was pretty much the basic features these 2 formats provide, which you wouldn’t find in a regular theatre, thus making them a little harder on pockets. And, honestly, this could’ve been found easily by a simple Google Search. But, now, let’s talk about something that Wikipedia wouldn’t tell you.
How to choose between the 2 formats?
Well, as I stated before, I’ve experienced both the formats enough number of times to compare and decide between the two formats. Now, if you’ve never been to the two, how do you know you’re going to the right theatre when booking your tickets the next time? I’m here to help.
The first thing you might want to keep in mind is the duration of the film. Longer the film is, more tiring 4DX gets. By the end of it, you have a little headache, with your back hurting with all the sudden seat movements. Plus, it doesn’t have an intermission! But, even before that, if the film is shot in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, directly go to IMAX without a second thought. It is different from the 26% extra feature you hear about. Click here for the details.
Now, for a 2.35: 1 film, a lot depends on the trailer, and what kind of film it seems to be. Check if IMAX is offering 26% extra picture through their YouTube Trailer. If they are, it’s a big point for you to incline towards IMAX. Does it seem to have a lot of special effects? Or its more grounded? Is it more about the action or more about its plot? Does it look like it’ll be able to utilise the various effects that 4DX provides, or it’ll not be worth the extra money?
Let’s take them one by one.
As I mentioned earlier, IMAX 3D is bright, has a bigger screen size and a more immersive experience. So, it is a very natural choice for a movie with beautiful special effects and rich colors. Take Doctor Strange, Beauty and the Beast, or Thor: Ragnarok for example. Whereas, you’ll probably prefer Fast & Furious movies, Spiderman or Ant-Man movies, or similar films on a 4DX theatre.
There is always action in a spy film, but its more about the story, than its action. Since 4DX can at times make it hard to follow, you’ll probably don’t want to spend extra bucks to watch it on 4DX. While, if the effects are done right, the scariness of a horror film will only get more intense on a 4DX theatre, with the seats and wind giving you the exact amount of chills.
Though, you’ll probably want to avoid movies with emotions attached to be watched in 4DX, as it really does annoy in such scenes with its unrequired movements. A movie with complicated plot? Stay away from 4DX. But, a movie where there is going to be a lot of fun? Maybe something on a school trip, or any big budget comedy? 4DX would only make it more fun. Shazam! is a perfect example for that.
As you would’ve noticed, there’s no kind of film that you wouldn’t like to watch on IMAX. Because, IMAX is just a bigger cinema hall when it comes to that. Though, there are certainly movies that IMAX will make more engaging. The ones with a lot of special effects, yes, but also the big budget plot driven movies, like Dunkirk or practically any Christopher Nolan film.
Another point you might wanna note about 4DX is that you aren’t allowed hot drinks inside, such as coffee or tea. Infact, some theatres may even not allow you other beverages inside the cinema. So, keep that in mind and fill yourself up before hand only.
Though, yes, there are movies I can’t decide on which would give a better experience, IMAX or 4DX. Black Panther is one such film. So is Captain Marvel. But, more or less, I know by the trailer which movie I want to watch in what format.
I hope this post helped you decide for the movies you watch in future. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments. Also, don’t forget to share this post with your friends who too are struggling to decide between these 2 formats.
Happy Cinematic Experience!
Edit: I recently re-watched The Lion King on IMAX (PVR Select City Walk Delhi), and it turned out to be the best IMAX experience ever. Moreover, The Lion King fills the IMAX screen fully, and doesn’t fill the regular screens due to it’s aspect ratio. Check out my views here: