In the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema was king and one of the major ways that people spent their entertainment dollar. While movies have always remained important, the theater has seen increased pressure from sources like television, video games, and streaming services. To combat the competition, theaters have tried everything from adding color, to 3D, to increasing the size of the screen. This last item has never stopped being a point of differentiation, as companies like IMAX use their massive size as a major way to compete not only with other forms of media, but with other theaters. Now, the company is getting ready to unveil its biggest screen ever, at a massive 38 meters wide and 22 meters tall.
The screen is being installed at the Traumpalast Leonberg multiplex located in Leonberg, Germany and is expected to open sometime in 2020. Needless to say this is a huge benefit to the independent theater in a city which has a population of less than 50,000 people. It’s a bit surprising to see a world record screen going into a theater in a relatively small part of Germany, but IMAX is a fairly new addition to the nation as a whole, with only 10 theaters currently open or contracted to open, so putting IMAX’s biggest screen ever in the country can only help those efforts.
In imperial measurements, the screen is just short of 125 feet long and just over 72 feet tall. A standard IMAX screen, for comparison, comes in at 72 feet wide and 53 feet tall. The previous record holder for IMAX was a screen in Sydney Australia which measures 117 feet long.
It should be pointed out that when Deadline and IMAX refer to it as the world’s largest IMAX screen, that appears to be in length only. The screen in Australia is apparently significantly taller than the one being installed in Germany, at 97 feet, and therefore is also larger from a square footage perspective.
While a bigger screen is certainly attractive, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a point of diminishing returns here. With the screen being so large the seating location to be able to take it all in is going to be that much further back as compared to standard IMAX. If you end up too far back, you’re going to lose the benefits of the massive screen. Maybe some people won’t mind watching movies like they’re watching a live tennis match, but I’m not one of those people.
Which is not to say that if I found myself in Leonberg, Germany, I wouldn’t buy a ticket to whatever was showing on the world’s largest IMAX screen. Whatever Marvel or Lucasfilm has planned for 2020 will probably look absolutely amazing on a screen that size.