IMAX - Is it worth the hype?

I recently discovered that there are several ways one can view a movie these days.  There is the standard big screen that every theater has.  There is 3D.  There is IMAX.  And there is IMAX 3D.

I am well-versed in the standard film screen.  I've been going to see movies on those for over 30 years.  I'm a big fan (really???  ya think?).

I've never seen a 3D movie.  That's not to say that I've never seen anything in 3D.  I've been to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, several aquariums, and others of the sort, all of which have their own 3D shows.  But I've never seen an actual feature-length film in 3D.  Truthfully, most of the movies that have come out in 3D have been movies I wasn't that interested in seeing.

As for IMAX, I've seen three feature-length films: Fantasia 2000, Treasure Planet, and The Hunger Games.  When I went to see Fantasia 2000, I went on opening night, and IMAX was the only option.  Treasure Planet was a fluke.  My younger brother, my nephew, and I went to see Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith in IMAX, but the theater screwed up their showtimes, and the movie wasn't playing.  We opted to trade our tickets for the current IMAX showing, which was Treasure Planet.  For those of you unfamiliar, Treasure Planet is a Disney animated film based on Treasure Island.  Quite a bit different from a Star Wars film, but I have to be honest - I loved it!  Going to see The Hunger Games in IMAX was intentional.  I knew I wanted to see it on the biggest screen possible, to be completely immersed and enthralled.  I made plans to see it opening weekend in IMAX.  The plans fell through.  I was very disappointed - and then Lionsgate gave me a present, when they rereleased the film in IMAX, for one week only, starting this past weekend.  On Saturday night, I met up with an old friend, and we watched The Hunger Games in IMAX.

When the movie ended, she turned and asked me if I thought the IMAX experience was as impressive as the hype makes it out to be.  At first, I said yes.  But as we continued to discuss it, I came to realize that, in fact, it was NOT what I expected (or remembered).

The screen was huge.  Majorly huge.  Three stories huge.  I could watch movies on that screen all day.

But I remember IMAX screens being more than huge.  I remember them stretching around the front edge of the theater, so that I felt like I was literally IN. THE. MOVIE.

I did not feel like I was IN. THE. MOVIE. on Saturday night.  Now, don't get me wrong.  The screen was huge.  Therefore, I picked up several details I missed on the first five viewings.  But that was it.  Huge screen.

Huge screen does NOT equal almost $20 worth of a movie ticket.

Am I missing something?  I've heard that a true IMAX auditorium is vastly different than a refitted IMAX room.  I checked - we were in a true IMAX room.  In fact, I'm pretty sure we were in the exact same room I saw Fantasia 2000 in, and that experience was incredible!  Was I expecting too much?  Would the experience have been different if it had been my FIRST viewing of The Hunger Games, as opposed to my sixth?  Or have I fallen into the "everything must be bigger.  and better. each and every time" trap that seems to pervade society these days?

Thoughts?  Opinions? Grumblings?

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