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Author Topic: Winnipeg's IMAX going 3D
Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000

 - posted 12-11-2005 03:04 PM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
From a subscription site:

IMAX entering third dimension
Fri Dec 9 2005
By Randall King

THE IMAX Theatre at Portage Place is about to go deep -- as in depth perception.
The downtown theatre boasting a five-storey-high screen is being upgraded to show IMAX 3-D movies.

Beginning Sunday, it will be closed for renovations for two to three weeks. All school bookings made for that time are being rebooked.

The cost of the renovation will be more than $1 million, said Clare McKay, IMAX manager of marketing and communications. As early as Monday, a special new projector will be installed via crane -- probably through the Portage Place roof -- into the IMAX projection room on the third floor of the mall, McKay said.

Later next week, the theatre will get a new 22-metre-wide screen. It will also have to be craned into the theatre, possibly from the Portage Place courtyard currently occupied by Santa Claus.

"We may have to move Santa," McKay said.

It will be worth the effort. Other IMAX theatres in cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, New York and Los Angeles have been screening 3-D movies for years.

In November of 2004, Warner Bros. even created a 3-D version of the animated feature The Polar Express for IMAX theatres equipped with 3-D technology, but Winnipeggers had to settle for 2-D.

In fact, Winnipeggers have already seen many films made for the 3-D medium, including the animated holiday movie Santa Vs. the Snowman. Unfortunately, when these movies are projected in 2-D, the gags involving in-your-face visual effects literally fall flat.

The 3-D format is expected to revive interest in the IMAX facility. In fact, McKay says, the management is considering tying a large red ribbon around the screen when it is craned into the cinema "because it's our gift to Winnipeg."

The tentative date for the reopening of the 3-D IMAX Theatre is Dec. 29. It has not been confirmed which 3-D movie will christen the new projector and screen.

How it works

* The IMAX 3-D projector simultaneously projects two strips of film, one for each eye, onto a special IMAX 3-D screen.

* The screen is covered by a special silver paint that reflects twice as much light as a regular movie screen.

* Audience members wear polarized glasses that channel the right-eye image to the right eye and the left-eye image to the left eye, creating a highly realistic three-dimensional image.

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Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000

 - posted 12-14-2005 12:16 PM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
From a subscrition site:

Projector improves projections at Winnipeg's struggling IMAX
North Portage hopes 3-D equipment stops the bleeding

Tue Dec 13 2005
By Randall King

Workers remove old projection equipment at the IMAX theatre, which took delivery of its new 3-D projector yesterday.

IT only looked like a crane was dropping a new 3-D projector into the IMAX facility on the third floor of Portage Place yesterday.
In fact, that was a lifeline, thrown in the nick of time to keep the troubled downtown theatre afloat.

Jim August, the CEO of the Forks-North Portage Development Corp., the company that owns and manages the IMAX, said the $1.2-million upgrade was essential because the theatre has been a money-loser for the past few years in its 2-D incarnation.

Last year, the IMAX theatre lost approximately $300,000, August said.

"It needs to do about $1.2 million (annually) to make it work and it's only been doing about $900,000," August said yesterday. "It's a tough business. It's expensive to run and an expensive venue to operate," he said.

"And in a way, the bloom is off the rose for IMAX 2-D. It's been around for about 20 years."

The Winnipeg IMAX opened in September 1987 with a presentation of the made-in-Manitoba film Heartland. In the past 10 years, more and more giant-screen cinemas have converted to 3-D facilities incorporating a special projector which simultaneously projects two strips of film. Each member of the audience wears custom-designed polarized IMAX 3-D glassses.

Of the 24 IMAX theatres currently in operation in Canada, 13 are 3-D compatible and 11 are 2-D. August said it was time for Winnipeg to make the switch.

"We did a pretty thorough business case analysis," August said, adding the study gave North Portage several choices for the IMAX: "We could hang onto what we have, we could sell the theatre or close it down, or we could re-invent the venue.

"It became very clear in our minds that a change to 3-D was the best business option, as well as bringing a whole new entertainment opportunity to downtown Winnipeg.

"We're in the downtown re-development business and Winnipeg should have a 3-D theatre," he said.

According to the business analysis, IMAX theatres in cities such as Vancouver, Tempe, Ariz., and Sacramento, Calif. have all experienced boosts in attendance and revenues following a change to 3-D. August believes Winnipeg will follow suit.

"We're looking for a break-even or plus," he said. "It may take a couple of years, but we know from our research that our numbers will increase from 80 per cent to 100 per cent in the first year. "We also know from other theatres that that may drop off slightly, but not dramatically, over the next few years."

August said the IMAX, now closed for the upgrade, is expected to re-open on Jan. 1, 2006. Admission prices will be $10, according to North Portage chief financial officer Paul Webster. The 3-D film that will open the venue still has not been determined.

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