Undoubtedly the most anticipated movie event of 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is expected to be one of the highest grossing films ever. It has already smashed ticket sale records nearly two months ahead of opening weekend, and it was reported over the summer that the film would occupy highly coveted IMAX theaters for a full month. However, as Screen Crush explains, eager fans rushing out to see the film in the format in which it was shot may be sorely disappointed.
An image from the set of the film posted to social media back in July 2014 shows an IMAX camera being used against a sandy background, which means that at least part of the movie was filmed in 70mm. The problem is that there are only 18 theaters in United States and Canada that will be projecting the film in that format, leaving ticket buyers in major cities out of luck. "If you live in New York City and want to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 70mm IMAX, you’d have to drive two hours to Philadelphia," writes Mike Sampson of Screen Crush. "If you live in Chicago, you’d have to drive three hours to Indianapolis. If you live in Austin, you’d have to drive 10 hours to Branson, Missouri."
IMAX is more than just a huge screen, as the company's senior executive vice president of technology Brian Bonnick explained in a 2009 interview with Popular Mechanics—resolution is a major part of the experience. Because of the costs associated with 70mm projection, IMAX introduced Digital IMAX in 2008, which is shown at a lower resolution on smaller screens (film purists have been known to dismiss it as "lieMAX"). There are a handful of true IMAX screens across the country, but some of them still won't be used to project The Force Awakens in 70mm.
"In an effort to make Star Wars: The Force Awakens available to as many IMAX fans as possible in as many IMAX theatres as possible," a post on IMAX's website reads, "we will be releasing the film across our various cutting-edge projection technologies including our xenon digital system, IMAX 15/70mm film and our next-generation laser system."
Here is the official list of IMAX theaters screening the film in 70mm:
McWane Center IMAX Dome Theatre — Birmingham
IMAX, U.S. Space & Rocket Center — Huntsville
Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum — San Jose
Museum of Discovery & Science AutoNation IMAX — Ft. Lauderdale
IMAX Dome, Museum of Science & Industry — Tampa
IMAX, Indiana State Museum — Indianapolis
Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center of Iowa — Des Moines
Branson’s IMAX, Entertainment Complex — Branson
St. Louis Science Center OMNIMAX Theatre — St. Louis
Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute — Philadelphia
Kramer IMAX, Saskatchewan Science Centre — Regina
Lockheed Martin IMAX, National Air & Space Museum
Omni, Fort Worth Museum of Science & History — Fort Worth
LG IMAX, Darling Harbour — Sydney, Australia
The Science Museum — London, England