IMAX has become synonymous the world over with the best possible cinema going experience, and nowhere in the world is that more apparent than in the Middle East. In Dubai alone, IMAX dominates, with some of the best screens and latest technologies that the world of film has to offer.
It’s a shame you can’t bring that home with you. Or can you?
With that in mind, IMAX has brought IMAX Private Theatre to the Gulf.
“We were encouraged by our growth in theatrical business across the region, so it made sense to move into this market.. In the region, family time is very important to high net worth individuals, and because of the weather in the region, private time at home can be extra appealing. There are also a large number of families who own homes that can accommodate these theatres,” David Hanson, General Manager of IMAX Home Entertainment MENA.
Hanson explains to WEALTH Arabia that there will be three levels of products—Prestige, Palais, and the highest-end system, Platinum.
“Our core product is Palais, which is a dual-projector passive 3D cinema solution which optimises itself using a microphone in the ceiling and an optimisation tool that allows us to do real-time monitoring of your vision and gives feedback to our centralised network operations centre, as well as having a variable seating size. It’s a modular solution around which you can build a shell in whatever space you have,” says Hanson.
Which product you choose isn’t necessarily a testament to quality—it’s also about picking the best product for the space that you have available in your home.
The difference in the product is to do with the power of the projectors, the size of the speakers, etc. Within a certain range of room sizes, we’re able to optimise the equipment and change the settings,” says Hanson. “We have the product differentiation because the depth of the room will decide whether your speakers are overpowered, underpowered and so forth.”
As the Gulf loves customisation, each Private Theatre is made to suit the customer.
“We try to take any space and get it to a place where it fits the template for our private theatre. Obviously, for our room, that dictates how much construction goes into it. You’re trying to build a frame inside a space that allows you to put a private theatre in. If you have the ceiling height it’s not too difficult to put the soundproofing element around the wall, put the theatre shell etc. If you’re putting it on a yacht and it’s right next to an engine room, we’re going to have to put in a lot more work into soundproofing. It really varies job to job,” says Hanson.
“A lot of our target customers have relationships with interior designers, and in which case we will put in the hardware solution, and we will provide consultancy with the design team to allow them to deliver their design vision with our technology without any loss of performance.”
The concept of the IMAX Private Theatre, long before it was to be marketed to individuals for their homes, was born in Hollywood—for Hollywood.
“The entire development of these private theatres have gone through multiple iterations, and the first iteration was studio executives in Hollywood wanting to have screening rooms put into their home that allowed them to view the content in the way that it was going to be seen in the theatres. The first generation of these theatres was essentially scaled down versions of the IMAX theatrical installation—which had its own challenges. It was not a scalable solution to go into the home, and the cost was prohibitive,” says Hanson.
Though they have updated the technology so that it fits in the home, it is still very much IMAX.
“The DNA of those theaters has passed down all the way into this product which was designed to be scalable into many different sizes of homes. Our technology group have always had embedded in them people who were responsible for the theatrical DNA of IMAX, so it all carries all the way through. People can see that there is consistency with what they experience,” says Hanson.
While consumers that go to the IMAX theatre at Mall of the Emirates will talk most specifically about the size, to IMAX, that is not what the experience is all about.
“People who go to IMAX talk about the size of the experience. So how can I talk about consistent DNA when we’ve scaled down to room size? While the perception is the size, our argument is around the intensity of the experience. It’s the depth of the 3D, the depth of the sound, the optimisation, the fact that there’s no interference in the sound. In some ways, scaling down the size of the room, because we control better where you’re seated in terms of the screen, it’s even more precise, centering the 3D to you in the room. All the sound is directed at you as well so you have a personal, intense experience,” says Hanson.
Once you have the Private Theatre, it is up to you. You will not have to lug the IMAX projector film that once filled an entire room, rest assured.
“Our model is all about flexibility—it’s a broad content solution. You have the inputs to put in whatever you want. Obviously the higher the resolution of the content your’e receiving the better your experience is going to be, but whether you’re playing FIFA on your PlaysStation 4, broadcast 4K or a 4K Ultra HD Blu Ray,” says Hanson.
How much? Estimates start around $400,000, but, well, if you have to ask…