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Star Trek - The IMAX PosterYou know movies are getting to be expensive when it costs about the same to see it on screen as it does to buy the DVD when it comes out. Talk about fleecing the hell out of consumers. In this case, it’s the insanely expensive ticket to see “Star Trek” this Thursday night on an IMAX screen at the Regal Cinema in Escondido.

I’m hoping the experience will be good because this will be the first mainstream movie I’ve seen in IMAX since “Spider-Man 3”, a couple years ago. At the time it was the premiere feature at the Edwards Cinema in Mira Mesa which was just opening it’s IMAX theatre. Basically it converted one of it’s largest theaters into an IMAX auditorium. And I caught a 6 am showing of the movie (the third screening since the midnight premiere showing) and I was a little underwhelmed by the IMAX experience. It could just be that “Spider-Man 3” was a not quite the best film, but I do think the auditorium contributed to the experience, as I felt the screen was just not size wise up to par for an IMAX experience. All my previous IMAX experiences have been at theme parks with these giant larger than life screens, and this screen just felt average. Not quite the sensory overload experience I was hoping for.

I’m hoping the newly opened IMAX auditorium in the Escondido theater will be a better experience than the Mira Mesa theater. I know you’re going to pay a premium for seeing the film in IMAX but sheesh, the online price through Fandango.com was $16 with a $2 “convenience” charge. Since it saves me the trouble of going to the theater beforehand, I guess it’s got some level of “convenience.” Plus I do like the stadium seating that the newer theaters have. And I actually bought the ticket through the Fandango application on my iPod Touch.

I’m using the new “Star Trek” film as a gauge to compare the IMAX experience with the all digital experience that my local Poway UltraStar Cinema features (as I fully intend to see “Star Trek” more than once.) I’m not convinced IMAX is any better than digital. And the digital film experience costs the same as a regular movie experience, considerably cheaper than the IMAX experience. My only complaint about the UltraStar cinemas is that they’re older theater conversions so they do not have the stadium seating, but more the slightly sloped seating of theater designs of the past.

From past experience with the digital films, not only does the image not degrade over time like traditional film, it seems to be able to maintain its level of focus no matter if you’re sitting in the front row or the back row. Traditional film seems to be blurrier the closer to the screen you sit. Even though IMAX film is considerably larger than traditional movie film, it’s still film. So hopefully on Friday I’ll have a report on which presentation is better, the IMAX or the digital, and that damn IMAX version better be impressive for the insanely expensive ticket price. But most importantly, I’m really looking forward to a new “Star Trek” movie!

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