Avengers: Endgame: What Format Should You View It In?

By Julian Brown:

Didn’t get a chance to see Avengers: Endgame yet? Remain unspoiled? Good! Now the only decision you have to make is what format to see the epic conclusion of the Infinity Saga in. It’s important to note that there should only be two options you’re thinking about: IMAX and Dolby Cinema. I’m here to help you make that decision.

First, let’s talk about IMAX. The most important thing to know here is that 9/10 theaters that advertise IMAX are actually LIEMAX. What’s that, you ask? Good question.

LIEMAX is what you get at most modern movie theaters if they don’t have a dome like Philadelphia’s the Franklin Institute or the Boston Science Museum do. Those are true IMAX screens. If you live in the Philadelphia area, the only other true IMAX screen is at the United Artists theater in King of Prussia. LIEMAX was IMAX’s marketing ploy to basically have cinemas retrofit some of their theaters to create “IMAX” theaters, but most of these that are advertised only have about 22% of the size an IMAX screen should be.

(Want to know if you’re going to IMAX or LIEMAX? Here is a great resource)

So let’s get down to the details. As far as screen resolution, IMAX is still using dual 2K projectors, which is basically just an upscale to 4K, instead of a true 4K image like Dolby Cinema.

If you’ve also ever seen a movie in IMAX before, you have probably noticed that depending on where you’re sitting, the image could look a little blurry, or what John Canfield and many others call “the screen door effect”. During my second viewing of Avengers: Endgame in IMAX, this was a serious issue for me at points.  While I found the picture quality to be outstanding overall, there were times I certainly noticed the blur issues.

As far as the sound, nothing can put a candle to Dolby and Dolby Cinema. It’s not really a fair comparison because this is what Dolby does. Unfortunately for the IMAX screening, there were one or two points where the volume was not loud enough to pick up on a couple of whispered lines, something I did not expect to have an issue with, as IMAX is generally very loud.

And here is where we get into Dolby Cinema. For the sake of transparency, a lot of the information on Dolby Cinema is from Dolby, but in their case, there is no false advertising. Yes, their brand is absolutely marketable, much like IMAX, but Dolby is able to back it up with an amazing theatre experience.

Related Post: Avengers: So Much More Than the Endgame

Let’s start with the fact that Dolby Cinema was created from the ground-up with the moviegoer in mind. It wasn’t a retrofit. If you walk into an AMC theater and it doesn’t have a Dolby Cinema, there’s a good chance you’re going to walk by a big billboard on a wall saying “Dolby Cinema coming soon”. That’s because theaters are actually building new auditoriums specifically to accommodate the Dolby experience.

The picture? Unlike IMAX, which is using dual 2K projectors, Dolby Cinema uses Dual 4K laser projection with Dolby Vision. What does that mean? Anything on the screen that is black to actually to be black, instead of that dark gray filmgoers are used to seeing. You’re probably already familiar with Dolby Vision HDR, which is the gold standard when it comes to HDR in 4K televisions.

Those issues I spoke about earlier with the screen door effect? Impossible due to the use of laser projection. In a film like Avengers: Endgame, which has been heavily marketed for being filmed on IMAX cameras, it’s important to get as crisp a picture as possible when dealing with a CGI heavy film.

Finally, the sound. You can’t blame IMAX for struggling against Dolby on this one. Like I’ve said, this is what Dolby does. With over 100 speakers in a theatre and Dolby’s ATMOS surround sound, you get the effect of almost feeling like you’re in the movie, with butt rumbling sound every time.

My only gripe with Dolby Cinema? Their need to advertise that you’re in a Dolby theater three separate times during coming attractions. We get it, the black is really black, the sound is all around us! We know, that’s what we paid for.

Speaking of paying; let’s make that the final comparison. Using the AMC app, IMAX narrowly beats Dolby, coming in at $17.39 compared to $18.39, a full dollar less. This, of course, varies from city to city, and state to state.

So who wins? I have to give the edge to Dolby Cinema. I feel like I’ve been spoiled by the format. The premium ticket price you’re paying, in my opinion, goes towards a superior viewing experience.

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