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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » Film Handlers' Movie Reviews   » Dunkirk - 15/70 Imax version (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Dunkirk - 15/70 Imax version
Bill Brandenstein
Master Film Handler

Posts: 304
From: Santa Clarita, CA
Registered: Jul 2013


 - posted 07-21-2017 06:45 PM      Profile for Bill Brandenstein   Email Bill Brandenstein   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
CINEMA: AMC Universal Citywalk 19
AUDITORIUM: Imax screen
SEATS: row 7 of 13, right in the middle.
PRESENTATION: trailers & movie all on Imax film
Trailers presented (all looked 2K in source but the first was fuzzier):
- Star Wars The Last Jedi
- Blade Runner
- Justice League
PRESENTATION PROBLEMS: 3D screen hotspotting; but overall, "A" quality (an A+ from me would require a 1.0 screen and audio modifications, so let's not be too picky in the face of something this good).
RATING: Three and 1/2 stars (out of four)

THE PLOT: 400K Allied troops are trapped by the advancing (nameless) Nazi forces and need to be rescued out of the Dunkirk area. Mortal wackiness ensues.

CONS: If you're looking for character development, this movie doesn't work like that.
If you're looking for memorable tunes, or recognizable melodies, the soundtrack has only one, and Hans Zimmer didn't write it. While this isn't a score I ever want to hear outside of the movie, it works in context.
If you're a stickler for racial diversity, political moralizing, or want to see lots of girls, don't bother with this. It's not a history lesson, there's not a shred of romance, doesn't have much in the way of philosophizing, and involves only a little family connectedness. Not the point (nor the historical context).
If you want linear storytelling, this movie has a unique twist of non-linearity you'll either like or hate.
If you want a relaxing evening with warm fuzzies and a happy ending, there is a satisfying conclusion, but a realistic war picture such as this isn't going to have a truly happy ending, and it's certainly not relaxing!
Some of the 5/70 photography comes off as surprisingly grainy and gritty in the blowup to 15/70 due to low light and contrast buildup; other 5/70 portions, like the last one (which was shot in sunny daylight), compare quite favorably to 15/70. Definitely all better than the 35mm scenes in Interstellar!

PROS:
Nolan has provided the single most compelling case for "presentation matters" and the epic Imax screen filled by crisp, gorgeous film since, well, Interstellar. This is a truly and uniquely epic use of the format. Bravo Nolan! Here the discussion is no longer about film vs digital, but the sheer power of size and clarity used for effective storytelling that can't be equaled outside of the 15/70 medium.
The Imax photography in some of the tight quarters as well as the aerial dogfights defies comprehension of what they had to do to shoot them. And it is typically an amazing and crisp sight to behold.
While this movie will teach you little about WWII facts and Operation Dynamo, nor is the plot actually very complicated, it succeeds with great intensity in putting you into the experience of being there. The experience of the operation IS the point.

By the way, nice to see new F-T forum member Jeff Heacock in the film credits for his 70mm lab work at Fotokem, and bravo Jeff on a job well done in making this an excellent film-to-film presentation. Beautiful, rock steady, and nearly flawlessly clean.

There's so much more I could say. Maybe it's not everyone's cup of tea. But Dunkirk is a towering achievement and a picture of heroism that at its core is about the value of human life in the face of evil. It's an experience worth having at least once. And not on a portable device!

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Tyler Purcell
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From: Van Nuys, CA
Registered: Dec 2015


 - posted 07-27-2017 09:57 PM      Profile for Tyler Purcell   Author's Homepage   Email Tyler Purcell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
CINEMA: AMC Universal Citywalk 19
AUDITORIUM: Imax screen
SEATS: Row J, seat 16 and 17
PRESENTATION: trailers & movie all on Imax film
Trailers presented:
- Star Wars The Last Jedi
- Blade Runner
- Justice League

The registration wasn't very good on the projector. They maybe using an older model, not sure, but it did have noticeable shake that I've not seen on an IMAX projector in years. Most of these theaters have final generation 3D projectors, which have registration pins. Maybe this one is running an older 2D model. I couldn't see into the booth enough to determine which it was. If it was an older 2D model, the registration issues I saw are pretty common.

The screen did have a big bright patch to the center left, the top right/left and bottom right were noticeably darker. I'm not sure if this is a calibration issue, or a problem with the screen as Bill mentioned above.

The sound mix was better then the 5/70mm print, but it was also a lot louder. I love loud movies, but it was too loud even for me. I would have liked it turned down quite a bit for it to be comfortable to watch. Surround effects were better, and LFE was more pronounced then the 5/70 print.

The 15/65 material was crisp and beautiful. The 5/65 material was noisy and did not hold up to the 15/65 material at all. The little black bar on the top didn't bother me at all, it was just the noise level and change in contrast that disturbed me. In darker scenes, it wasn't as noticeable, but in the daylight dialog scenes, the two formats were night and day apart. This is NOT the case on the 5/70 screenings, where even a trained eye can't tell the difference. It was absolutely a muckup at the lab and NOT the format. I'm glad that I was able to see the movie in 5/70 first, it was an over-all better theatrical experience.

I'm happy the AMC Universal City continues to operate a 15/70 projector, I just think it should be re-calibrated at some point to help make the image as good as possible. If I were Nolan and saw that screening, I'd be dismayed.

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Chris Haller
Film Handler

Posts: 25
From: Rochester, NY, USA
Registered: Dec 2015


 - posted 07-28-2017 01:00 AM      Profile for Chris Haller   Email Chris Haller   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
CINEMA: AMC Universal Citywalk 19
AUDITORIUM: Imax screen
SEATS: Row L, seat 15 and 16
PRESENTATION: Trailers & Movie all on Imax 15/70mm film
Trailers presented:
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi
- Blade Runner
- Justice League

Dunkirk is a pretty different war movie experience. It's basically three entirely separate experiences involved in the operation to remove British troops from the beaches of Dunkirk that all meet in the middle. There's no real introductions or explanations. You're dropped into the middle of this mess, and its 100+ minutes of tension building. Fear is baked into every shot as the threat of a German offensive looms over the horizon. It's a little unconventional, and a little unsettling to sit through, and a little bit much to chew on in one screening due to its unconventional structuring. I enjoyed it though, and would be willing to catch it again in 5/70mm or 35mm.

I made the trip to LA to visit a sibling, and hit up Dunkirk in 15/70 while I was out here, as Nolan wasn't able to pull any strings and land us a print of Dunkirk in Rochester like he was with Interstellar. Oh well. Such is life.

First thing's first - it was great seeing trailers printed on 15/70 for this presentation. The trailers were all a bit fuzzy, especially Justice League which was probably the worst of the three. I actually felt that the Star Wars trailer started fuzzy, but the longer the teaser ran, the sharper the image got. I was pretty pleased with that teaser in 15/70mm - it bodes well for any potential 15/70mm prints that might be struck for the December release of the movie. There was indeed a bit of image shake which was most noticeable during these letterboxed trailers, but I didn't feel it was that unacceptable.

As for Dunkirk, I have to echo much of Tyler's complaints. The 15/65mm footage was crisp, clean, and full of rich photochemical detail. Possibly the best photography of the feature films I've seen that utilize the 15/65mm IMAX format. Black levels were alright, although I've seen better on 2383 print stock and contrast was rock solid. The 5/65mm footage however was indeed like night and day. In terms of resolution and detail, it looked much closer to the 35mm DMR'd footage from The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar than I had expected due to the large format origination. Contrast and overall color gave it a distinctly different feel, especially when quickly cut between two 15/65mm shots, which happened a few times during the film.

I also got the feeling that whatever 5/65mm source was used to generate the final 15/70mm print of the film wasn't painstakingly cleaned before being inserted into the final printing materials. I noticed at one point some interesting speckling and the occasional bit of damage during the brighter daytime exposures. I saw maybe one white speckle during the entirety of the film's IMAX sequences, but maybe it was just coincidence that only the 5/65mm letterboxed sequences got roughed up.

In terms of the sound mix, I'd rate it at about the same level of clarity and intensity as that of The Dark Knight Rises. It was loud, and made excellent and appropriate use of the surround sound capabilities of the theater. It was a little overpowering at times, but after awhile I kind of normalized the volume out and had a great experience.

On a technical level, the staff at CityWalk did a decent job with the print they were given, and the theater had a well calibrated sound system to present a powerful mix. Go for the 15/65mm, as it truly is breathtaking, but adjust your expectations accordingly for the 5/65mm footage. It isn't unwatchable, it just doesn't hold up nearly as well next to its full-frame counterparts.

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Bill Brandenstein
Master Film Handler

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From: Santa Clarita, CA
Registered: Jul 2013


 - posted 07-28-2017 04:52 PM      Profile for Bill Brandenstein   Email Bill Brandenstein   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So glad you guys have added your reviews to this.

Tyler, I'm quite curious what you saw in the way of registration issues. There's no guaranteeing that the film projector there is the same one as the pre-digital era (hmmm, at one time Universal's projectionist posted on this forum...), but they DID do dual-strip 15/70 for 3D a few years ago. Hence the horrible screen.

Anyway, when we saw it on opening day, the steadiness of the still titles in the end credits and even beyond (CQO@Imax.com, etc) was a sight to behold in its perfection. I almost remarked to those with me about the technical achievement that it is to do that with huge "analog" film.

Agree with you both on the 5/70 blowup looking disappointingly inferior, with infrequent exceptions.

And the sound mix is unrelenting, nearly without exception. At least Interstellar let you recuperate between bludgeonings. But this movie isn't about comfort, so I suppose it's appropriate.

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David Stambaugh
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 - posted 07-28-2017 06:09 PM      Profile for David Stambaugh   Author's Homepage   Email David Stambaugh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Interesting about the 5/65 5/70 comments because before I got skooled here I thought they were shot in 35mm.

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Chris Haller
Film Handler

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From: Rochester, NY, USA
Registered: Dec 2015


 - posted 07-28-2017 07:29 PM      Profile for Chris Haller   Email Chris Haller   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
David - I'm not surprised that you had mistaken the footage for 35mm film. It was nearly indistinguishable in terms of its grain, texture, and overall detail and other characteristics to that of the 35mm footage used in The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar.

I'm not sure how this 15/70mm version of Dunkirk was prepared. I know that the footage was all photochemically timed, but IMAX may have added their secret DMR sauce to the 5/65 Super Panavision footage before inserting it into a finished 15/65mm copy for printing or whatever. There wasn't nearly as much artifacting, but it really drove me nuts how much it didn't look like watching 5/65mm on a 5/70mm print. Granted, I have a limited exposure to watching films in 70mm on standard screens, but man it looked way different in Dunkirk in IMAX.

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Tyler Purcell
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 153
From: Van Nuys, CA
Registered: Dec 2015


 - posted 07-29-2017 12:09 AM      Profile for Tyler Purcell   Author's Homepage   Email Tyler Purcell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Bill, I've been watching IMAX movies religiously for decades, since I was a kid. Every time there is a 15/70 print, I go to see it.

The last TWO IMAX films I saw in the theater... Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar, both had unnoticeable registration and flicker. I mean ZERO, it looked like a digital screening. I saw Dark Knight Rises at a theater that doesn't exist anymore and Interstellar at the Los Angeles Science Museum.

IMAX projectors are fickle things though and loop size/cleaning can make subtle differences. So where one screening maybe 100% flawless, another may have issues. When the first trailer card for the Dunkirk screening, it was movin' around and I was dismayed right away. It wasn't bad... but it wasn't typical IMAX stability that I've come to recognize from prior major motion picture releases. The older projectors, don't have the registration pins, so they have noticeable wobble, but the final generation 3D projectors, which is what pretty much every flat screen has, SHOULDN'T have any... Not saying that was an issue, the other problems were far bigger including that stupid screen... GRRRR!

From an ASC article: https://ascmag.com/articles/dunkirk-wrangling-two-large-formats

“One of the challenges was that the movie was shot 15-perf 65mm and 5-perf 65mm, but needed to be released in both formats,” Oran says. “That involved reducing optically the 15-perf content to 5-perf, and doing a widescreen extraction from the appropriate place within the 15-perf frame. They had framed and planned for that in camera, so usually we went to the same place on every frame and just reduced it. We made an optical-reduction interpositive right from the original camera negative for all 15-perf shots, resulting in a 5-perf duplicate negative, which could then be cut together with the 5-perf original negative to make a complete printed 5-perf negative. The reverse was true for the 15-perf 65mm version, where we took our 65mm multi-format optical printer and essentially reversed the setup on it, producing 15-perf internegative blowups from a 15-perf 65mm contact IP for all shots that originated in 5-perf.”

If you made an IP, you can't cut that into OCN because it's "negative" and an IP is well... positive. So they would have needed to make an IP and then an IN. Which is I think what they did, which is why it looks like SHYT!

They made the IMAX prints off the original cut negative! No wonder the 15/65 stuff looked friggen awesome! Holy shit does that take balls AND a lot of damn time! Far better to make prints off a timed IN, and a lot faster. I'm glad they made a protection IP, but that's crazyiness!

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Allan Young
Film Handler

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 - posted 07-30-2017 06:10 AM      Profile for Allan Young   Email Allan Young   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"We made an optical-reduction interpositive right from the original camera negative for all 15-perf shots, resulting in a 5-perf duplicate negative, which could then be cut together with the 5-perf original negative to make a complete printed 5-perf negative."

Is there a mistake here or am I missing something?

Surely they would have cut the 5-perf duplicate negative derived from the 15-perf shots with the 5-perf duplicate negative, not the 5-perf original negative? Otherwise they'd have to have gone through a further unneccessary IP/IN stage.

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Chris Haller
Film Handler

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From: Rochester, NY, USA
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 - posted 07-30-2017 11:49 AM      Profile for Chris Haller   Email Chris Haller   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The way I read that was that they put together a complete negative for both the 15/65 and 5/65 versions of the film, and rather than moving through an IP/IN stage to make release prints, they made them straight from those negatives.

Borderline insanity if you ask me.

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David Kornfeld
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From: Cambridge, MA/USA, USA
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 - posted 07-30-2017 04:09 PM      Profile for David Kornfeld   Email David Kornfeld   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My understand (which could be mistaken) is this:

For 15/70 prints. The 5/70 OCN was scanned (probably at 4K) & went to a film out 15/70 neg, which was then cut in with the 15/70 OCN. All 15/70 prints were struck off this neg, which means the 15/70 is first generation, & the 5/70 is from a DI given a film out. This would explain why the 5/70 footage in the 15/70 prints looks noisy & murky & a little off-colour when compared with the 5/70 prints.

For 5/70 prints. The 15/70 footage was printed onto a 5/70 MDP; the 5/70 footage was given the same treatment; all this footage was then cut together, & the resulting complete MDP was used to strike an IN, & all the 5/70 prints were then struck off this IN, making them standard third generation release prints. This would explain why there are annoying white frame lines in some of the parts of the 5/70 prints.

If any of this is wrong, I'm sure someone will rush to inform me. But I have it on fairly good authority that this is all correct.

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Tyler Purcell
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 - posted 07-31-2017 02:53 AM      Profile for Tyler Purcell   Author's Homepage   Email Tyler Purcell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
David, no digital work was performed on Dunkirk outside of a hand-full of VFX shots which were cut into the cut negative for each of the versions. The link I posted above has the post workflow.

I talked with one of my friends today about this and it does appear there is missing information. The 5/65 OCN was cut and the scenes for IMAX went through an IP and IN process which was cut into the 15/65 OCN. This is why they looked like utter crap because they were made from lower quality sources then even the 5/70 theatrical prints.

Obviously Nolan wasn't consulted about this ahead of time because I have a feeling if he was, there would have been a different workflow used. I don't recall the 35mm blow up scenes from his previous movies, looking so noisy. This to me was a complete failure on their part because all that effort they put into shooting the entire movie in 65mm was almost wasted through poor photochemical/optical work. They SHOULD have scanned that material into the computer @ 6k and lasered it back out to IMAX 15/65 negative and cut that into the 15/65 OCN. That would have delivered a perfect image and sure, it would have gone through digital color grading, but it would have been stellar.

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Allan Young
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quote: Chris Haller
The way I read that was that they put together a complete negative for both the 15/65 and 5/65 versions of the film, and rather than moving through an IP/IN stage to make release prints, they made them straight from those negatives.

Borderline insanity if you ask me.

The article specifically states that the standard 70mm release prints were made from a duplicate negative though.

As for printing the IMAX version directly from the OCN, Nolan did this before with The Dark Knight, but it was limited to a handful of prints for "prestige" venues. I'm guessing that this time round the fact that there were fewer prints being struck (37 worldwide if the list on in70mm.com is accurate), they decided to take the risk on printing the lot this way.

But there's well over a hundred standard 70mm prints. It would indeed have been borderline insanity to print that many from the original negative.

quote: Tyler Purcell
The 5/65 OCN was cut and the scenes for IMAX went through an IP and IN process which was cut into the 15/65 OCN.
But given Nolan's oft-stated preference for a purely photochemical workflow, this would be the only way to do it. You may well be correct in claiming that a digital scan would have resulted in a better image I imagine his response to such a suggestion would have been "sod that".

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Scott Norwood
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 - posted 07-31-2017 06:42 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I saw this for the second time over the weekend in 15/70 at the Providence Mall Imax Cinema (now owned by National Amusements). Picture and sound quality were great and the print was in essentially mint condition.

Agreed with the other comments that the 15-perf original material looks amazing and the 5-perf material looks awful. It really sticks out in this sort of presentation. The silver screen in this venue is also really annoying.

That said, 15/70 is the way to see this film if possible. It has more impact than the 5/70 version, which I also enjoyed.

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Victor Liorentas
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The Mississauga,Ontario Canada Cineplex Imax theatre is playing Dunkirk VERY WRONG! It was the worst presentation of an Imax film I've ever witnessed. Dark flickering picture and DULL loud sound! They don't deserve to have a 15/70 print.
I complained to a manager who told me personnel from Imax came in set up the projector,test the system and put a new bulb in.

I was in a center seat and though they had a silver screen,it was not the big issue. It was basically a bright center circle of illumination and all around brown dark with flicker.

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Bobby Henderson
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 - posted 08-03-2017 12:28 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Cinema: Cinemark 17, LBJ & Webb Chapel, Dallas
Screen: IMAX - E13 & E14, $9.25 per ticket for a "Discount Tuesday" thing.
Format: 15-perf 70mm and whatever digital sound IMAX is using.
Presentation Quality: Very good, other than a couple spots of debris stuck in the gate at times.
Movie Rating: 3 stars out of 4

I talked about the movie's dramatic quality over in the 5/70mm Dunkirk thread.

My girlfriend and I drove a few miles West on LBJ Freeway to see the 15/70mm version of Dunkirk after watching the 5/70mm show at LOOK Cinemas. Quite a few more people were in the 4:50pm show at this IMAX theater than we saw at LOOK earlier. I wonder if it was the price difference. Both our tickets for this IMAX show cost about the same as one ticket over at LOOK. This Cinemark IMAX theater holds only 227 people, but most of the seats were filled. I'm glad I ordered the tickets early. I was a little worried I picked seats too close to the screen, but the seats in the middle of row E were actually just right. I'd choose those same seats again when visiting this theater.

Image Quality: Overall the 15/70mm IMAX version looked noticeably better than the 5/70mm version. The imagery was brighter, a touch sharper and the color quality was more saturated. However, the 5/65mm sourced imagery on the IMAX print was darker and more drab looking than the 15/65mm material. Obviously this must be an issue with generational loss in an optical printing step. The IMAX scene compositions looked better; not nearly so cramped like they felt with the 5/70mm version. Still, some shots were still composed tighter than they needed to be. IMAX lends itself more to big shots of landscapes rather than giant sized close-ups of some actor's potato head.

I was kind of surprised by just how much of the movie was shot in full frame IMAX rather than 5/65mm. Why not just shoot the entire movie in IMAX? There were a few setups where similar shots were filmed in both 5/65mm and 15/65mm, like one with a character hiding under a dock listening to commanding officers talk above. You'll have one shot of the guy under the dock in full blown IMAX and a moment later the same shot is letter-boxed?

After so many experiments with varying aspect ratios I think Nolan needs to just pick one format and compose the imagery for that frame rather than trying to split the difference between two different ratios. It's the same problem that plagued Super35 for many years. You can't really use a certain frame to its most dynamic potential if you're trying to play it safe for another aspect ratio at the same time. Concepts like the "golden spiral" don't work at all when trying to frame for multiple ratios. And then there's the issue of varying aspect ratios applied to unmasked screens. Letter-boxing or pillar-boxing on a bare screen is just not good even if viewers are used to seeing that on their TV screens at home.

The projection quality was not as flawless as that at LOOK. A different parts of the movie one or two specks of debris were getting stuck near the left center of the frame. The dots would be there a few minutes then disappear for a while and then return in the same spot. How is that possible? Is there something in the gate that revolves or moves? Other than that the film print was pretty clean and didn't appear to have any marks or other damage. It was certainly a damned sight better than ordinary 2K IMAX digital.

The sound mix at this theater was louder (and more shrill) than at LOOK Cinemas, but I couldn't hear the surrounds nearly as well. I really think IMAX needs to ditch the method of using only two giant sized surround speakers in the upper rear corners of the room. IMHO, they need to install their 12-channel sound setup in all theaters bearing an IMAX logo regardless if they have lasers or not.

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