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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Large Format Forum   » How does IMAX make money with so few prints? (Page 1)

 
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Author Topic: How does IMAX make money with so few prints?
Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99


 - posted 04-24-2004 09:32 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Disney spent a lot of money on their Earth Day movie (I can't remember what it was called because it is IMAX and my mind stores any info about that format into the "boring" area of my brain). Anyway the movie is only on 17 or 18 screens from what I read. Denver is one of those screens. And it is sharing the screen with Nass 'tard 3D. It doesn't even get a full day's worth of showings.

Maybe IMAX movies would be better off presented as plays?

Also, why do most IMAX movies seem to love the hell outta time lapse so much?

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Mark Lensenmayer
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1576
From: Upper Arlington, OH
Registered: Sep 1999


 - posted 04-24-2004 09:49 PM      Profile for Mark Lensenmayer   Email Mark Lensenmayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I saw SACRED PLANET yesterday (I posted a review.) It is running here with NASCAR 3D. (SACRED PLANET is the better of the two, although you would not know this from SACRED's terrible trailer.)

I think this film is one that is going to play a long time. It is especially suited to science museums (I saw it in a commercial theatre). It has a timeless quality to it, so it could play equally well now or 3-4 years from now. In the long run, I think it will do very well. I don't think it was a very expensive film to make, probably using a very small crew and only native people.

I've seen a lot of IMAX films, and I don't recall time lapse being used that many times, other than CHRONOS. IMAX works best in long, slow takes that give the viewer a chance to take in the entire image. Slow movement is especially important in the 3-D films, as it takes the eyes awhile to adjust to each scene. The absolute WORST are dissolves in 3-D films...the eyes just go crazy.

From my experience, IMAX attendance is improving. I had more than a few "private screenings" of IMAX movies...many more people were in the audience at NASCAR and SACRED PLANET.

SACRED PLANET is a very well crafted film, and I recommend it.

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Brian Michael Weidemann
Expert cat molester

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From: Costa Mesa, CA United States
Registered: Feb 2004


 - posted 04-25-2004 12:00 AM      Profile for Brian Michael Weidemann   Author's Homepage   Email Brian Michael Weidemann   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We've got three shows a day ... and opening weekend is as slow as any other. Our GM hates IMAX because, of course, he sees only bottom line numbers. "There are 50 people ALL DAY and the lamps cost THAT MUCH, times two, every four months!?!"

The movies themselves make money, I imagine, in long term. The prints last forever (okay, maybe not THAT long) and engagements are months at a time upon opening, and then prints circulate and are shown SOMEWHERE for years and years.

I love the format and the technology and the quality of presentation, so I by no means think it's boring. But then I think of the MOVIES ... L5: First City In Space, Alien Adventure, The IMAX Nutcracker ... and I want to shoot myself. Oh, the humanity.

My take is that IMAX revels in its own novelty. "Ooh, we have an IMAX! We're special!" And the theatre takes the monetary loss, in exchange for the attraction power. I like to think of it like a buffet in a Vegas hotel/casino ... most of the time it runs at a loss, and the substance isn't that good; but the casino, financially, makes up for it in abundance ... plus more people come to stay BECAUSE of it.

Now, Joe, if you're referring to how does IMAX, The Company, make money, I would say it's purely from the licensing fees and leasing agreements and "certification" programs, etc. If you were referring to grosses on individual IMAX films to the respective film studios, I'd say it's the exorbitant ticket prices compiled over years of runs, plus all those lovely group sales, school field trips, and package deals ... oh, and the COMPLETE LACK of marketing costs!

If you were talking about the theatre itself ... well, we don't make [bs] and it makes my manager think openly that I make too much money (when I'm actually one of the lowest paid [possible exaggeration] of the IMAX C.P.'s under Regal)

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 04-25-2004 01:17 AM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Time lapse effects are kind of popular with IMAX movies. However, the time lapse effects I remember the most from a movie were the ones featured in "Baraka."

Sure, "Baraka" wasn't an IMAX movie; just well done 5-perf 70mm. It just seemed the shots picked out in "Baraka" for the computer-motion-controlled dolly / time lapse thing were a lot more dynamic than what I have seen with stuff in IMAX. The movie had a series of shots in Bryce Canyon and Monument Valley spanning from night to day in time lapse. The camera is moving on a dolly, panning around and actually showing the Earth's axis of rotation in how the star field above rotated. Very f**king cool. "Baraka" is certainly not a conventional dramatic movie and not a movie for everyone, but it is a film that should have played in 70mm in a lot more theaters than it did.

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John Walsh
Film God

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From: Connecticut, USA, Earth, Milky Way
Registered: Oct 1999


 - posted 04-25-2004 07:34 AM      Profile for John Walsh   Email John Walsh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Joe, you forgot the 'twisting-helicopter-going-through-a-caynon-like-shot' in just about every IMAX movie.

One reason they make money is IMAX doesn't release their stuff to DVD 4 months after the initial release like 35mm. Regular 35mm product would make more money for theaters if the studios waited a year or so, but instead they use the theaters as little more than their advertising for the DVD sale.

I'm beginning to get the impression that a lot of large format films are actually low-buget. I'm not talking about just IMAX, but other LF stuff (8/70.) Rarely do you see effects shots, etc. I understand there are limitation with a LF camera, but generally they all look like 'drop the camera down and shoot.' I'm not saying NO effort goes into it; It must have been a huge pain in the ass to deal with a LF camera on top of Mt. Everest, but in LF, the nature and the people do the all the work.

I feel that all LF stuff should have DTS code to eliminate the hassle of timecode editing and slugging. The cost of a LF DTS player is minor considering the labor saved, but new stuff still comes with a DAT tape and sometimes even on 35mm mag. The actual post-production seems to be done by little post houses. If you call with a question, it's like, "Fred's not here today, he's at his other job fixing aircraft engines, call back tomorrow."

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Mark Lensenmayer
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Upper Arlington, OH
Registered: Sep 1999


 - posted 04-25-2004 11:45 AM      Profile for Mark Lensenmayer   Email Mark Lensenmayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Another common IMAX shot is flying over the tops of mountains, seen many times since EVEREST.

Also common is flying over a flat land, only to have the bottom drop out when you get to a canyon area.

I'd love to see any of the -qatsi movies in large format. (Koyaanisqatsi (1983), Powaqqatsi (1988), Naqoyqatsi (2002))

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

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From: Toronto Ontario Canada
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 - posted 04-25-2004 03:00 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The big issue with DTS timecode is that basically IMAX deosn't support it compared to there own proprietary soundsystem so it desn't get put on many 1570 prints (I have only seen one with it)
Any good old analogue mag rules [thumbsup]

Most IMAX film recover there costs usually over a short period and are fairly high budget due to just the lab costs alone

And most of the institutional large format theatres are money makers for the institution they are part of

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Mark Gulbrandsen
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From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 04-25-2004 07:05 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
To my knowledge there has only been one 15/70 print with DTS time code and that was a Beauty And The Beast. It was struck for the Imax Theatre in Spokane. I was told by Disney that they will only supports DTS or MAG for their 8/70 and 15/70 large format releases. If a Disney release shows up with another format its because someone else made the transfer.
Mark

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Brian Michael Weidemann
Expert cat molester

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From: Costa Mesa, CA United States
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 - posted 04-26-2004 04:15 AM      Profile for Brian Michael Weidemann   Author's Homepage   Email Brian Michael Weidemann   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
With Warner Bros. starting a DMR bandwagon, I imagine there will be a fresh surge of IMAX money-making. Apparently the day-and-date Matrix Revolutions numbers were impressive, given its 56 (or so) screen engagement. And with Attack Of The Clones already having the DMR treatment, I see absolutely NO conceivable reason why Episode III won't do it, too. I think it's going to be an exciting time for IMAX ... perhaps, only if it IS just novelty.

quote: Mark Lensenmayer
I'd love to see any of the -qatsi movies in large format. (Koyaanisqatsi (1983), Powaqqatsi (1988), Naqoyqatsi (2002))
I was just thinking this today. It must have been all the time-lapsed streets/people/traffic shots in Sacred Planet.

quote: John Walsh
It must have been a huge pain in the ass to deal with a LF camera on top of Mt. Everest
What are you talking about? Those mountains were all CG ... and all that "snow" was just TOO perfect to be real!!! [Razz] But seriously ...

We had a private rental several months back of Everest for Greg MacGillivray himself and a few "buddies". I overheard him talking afterwards, telling stories of producing that film. Apparently they used EVERY FRAME from the minute-and-a-half roll of film the took to the summit in the final movie.

quote: Gordon McLeod
Any good old analogue mag rules
Yep, that old 35mm mag was pretty fun when we had it as a backup ... threading it every show, only to need it once every three months or so! Now we don't have a backup sound, so when that DTAC decides to "forget" the Projector Time (like it had been recently, but apparently fixed now) we lose a show outright.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 04-26-2004 04:29 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In an attempt to answer Joe's question, I would hazard a guess that it's a combination of roadshow economics and the fact that Imax films stay in circulation for a lot longer than conventional titles. I guess it's a similar difference as between pop/rock and classical CDs in the music industry. 99% of new popular titles achieve 99% of their sales within a month or two of release. Look in the classical department and most of the discs you'll see there are repackaged recordings made 10-30 years ago (even older, sometimes). They recoup their production investment more slowly, and I guess the record companies do their business planning to take account of that.

The recent trend of making Imax 'blow jobs' from films originally shot on 35 or 65 must be giving that sector a bit of a boost, I'd have thought. After all, a film such as Apollo 13 will have already recouped its production investment a long time ago. Apart from the costs of remastering, most of the income from the rerelease will probably be pure profit.

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Carl Martin
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Oakland, CA, USA
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 - posted 04-26-2004 05:32 AM      Profile for Carl Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Carl Martin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
leo, you've had an inadvertent stroke of genius: imax porn!
and how about imax 3-d porn? it would beat that anaglyph crap from the '70's.

carl

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Mike Williams
Master Film Handler

Posts: 255
From: Knoxville, TN
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 04-26-2004 10:11 AM      Profile for Mike Williams   Email Mike Williams   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Carl Martin
leo, you've had an inadvertent stroke of genius: imax porn!
and how about imax 3-d porn? it would beat that anaglyph crap from the '70's.

carl

I wouldn't want to be there for the money shot...
[uhoh] [puke]

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Kyle McEachern
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 165
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Feb 2004


 - posted 04-26-2004 10:22 AM      Profile for Kyle McEachern         Edit/Delete Post 
IMAXXX: A new view on love.

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Christian Appelt
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 502
From: Frankfurt, Germany
Registered: Dec 2001


 - posted 04-26-2004 01:31 PM      Profile for Christian Appelt   Email Christian Appelt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
ImaXXX ? Time to remake the "parachute" scene from Woody Allen's EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX (1972).

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Brian Michael Weidemann
Expert cat molester

Posts: 944
From: Costa Mesa, CA United States
Registered: Feb 2004


 - posted 04-26-2004 08:02 PM      Profile for Brian Michael Weidemann   Author's Homepage   Email Brian Michael Weidemann   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When we ran the system with the battery-powered flickering headsets, we didn't allow buttered popcorn or chips with the nacho cheese into the auditorium. People would touch the lenses and get them sticky.

Sorry, is that off topic? [Eek!]

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