Is IMAX Worth It in 2024? – A Comprehensive Guide

Explore the immersive features of IMAX and discover if it’s worth the hype and price in 2024. Uncover pros, cons, and compare it with alternatives like 4DX and Dolby Cinema.

Updated on: December 31, 2023

IMAX is the next-level, absolutely immersive movie experience that ports you into the world of the movie you’re watching and lets you feel it.

However, the question is if it’s worth the price it costs. Let’s have an in-depth comparative study of what IMAX offers and how it might excel or lag behind its competitors.

What does IMAX offer?

What does IMAX offer

With a clear and convincing vision of “Films to the fullest,” IMAX combines all the cutting-edge technological elements to provide an incredibly immersive movie experience amalgamating the virtual and physical worlds. It includes 

  • Biggest wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, curved screens
  • Customized digital cameras and HD projectors work best to optimize clarity and produce sharper, brighter, and clearer images, just as the director intended.
  • Optimal customized theater environment that opens a field of view to around 70 degrees, enabling viewers to feel like a part of the movie. 
  • Custom-tailored sound systems that reach the entire octave, unlike the standard speakers.
  • Pertinent seating and positioning to ensure an optimal experience.

Why Choose IMAX? 

Why Choose IMAX

IMAX Next-level Ambiance

The principal factor of an IMAX theater is its wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling, giant curved screens that make you feel like you have been ported into the movie world in its totality. The screen curves and the optimized display ambiance allow a 70-degree field of view, unlocking an unreal, outworldly display.

Furthermore, unlike any other traditional cinema, there’s no bad seat in IMAX. They all feel equally breathtaking and immersive because of the twin 4K laser projectors’ Integration and DRM that provide high-resolution video quality.

12 High-quality Sound Channels

IMAX cinema integrates 12 premium-quality sound channels, placed with extreme dexterity across different theater spots, to provide a next-level audio experience. The theater acoustics meld with the placement of the sound system, enabling the audience to feel even the slightest audio nuance with absolute detail. You’d feel like actually living in the movie alongside the characters. 

Meanwhile, traditional theaters stand far behind IMAX when it comes to audio. You don’t feel fully immersed with standardized large speakers placed randomly throughout the theater. 

Projection and Recording Technology In IMAX

IMAX uses high-definition cameras, projectors, and customized sound equipment, making the results super-enhanced and compatible with IMAX theaters. 

Moreover, the filmmakers who aim to release films for IMAX theaters use IMAX personalized equipment during the shooting process to avoid any room for even the slightest hole.

Even if a movie is not shot using IMAX equipment, it’s edited in post-production to fit on the high-resolution screen.

Personal Preference

Although there are several outstanding features of IMAX theater, choosing it over other competitors is always one’s personal preference. You must consider all the pros and cons before picking one from several available theaters.

Cons Of IMAX 

imax cons Cybersickness


Well, not always, but watching a movie at an IMAX theater can make you feel dizzy, at times, due to its unreal exposure. 

The wide screens, curved angles, realistic 3D effects, and all the other features profoundly affect our senses and trick us into believing that we live in the movie’s virtual world. This profound and unreal effect on the senses can cause some people dizziness, also known as cybersickness. 


Although IMAX is a great choice of cinema for anyone who wants to enjoy a gigantic screen, immersive audio, and comfortable seating throughout the movie, its tickets are very expensive, ranging from $20-$25 on an average scale. 

So, you must consider your budget to buy these tickets. 

Digital IMAX Vs. Real IMAX

Digital IMAX and Real IMAX are different from each other. Suppose you’re watching a movie in Real IMAX (Laser IMAX). In that case, it includes all the top-notch features IMAX is famous for its distinctive features as:

Digital IMAX Vs Real IMAX
  1. Dome-shaped screen extending from the edges for peripheral view.
  2. Screen size up to 72 feet high and 98 feet wide.
  3. Aspect ratio of 1.43:1
  4. Use high-resolution cameras for film recording, 70mm film format, and LASER projectors.

On the contrary, if you watch a movie in a Digital IMAX theater, you won’t feel much difference. The experience will be similar to any other traditional theater due to the absence of some IMAX elements that make it outsell the competition, i.e., giant screens, dual 4K laser projection, lower aspect ratio, 12-channels based sound system, etc. Things will go as per standard theaters if it is a Digital IMAX.

Here are a few things that LieMAX/Digital IMAX offers and are different from Real IMAX:

  1. 2K Resolution digital projectors with proprietary Post-production techniques to enhance the image/video quality.
  2. Screen size is pretty standard, i.e., 28 feet high and 58 feet wide.
  3. An aspect ratio of 1.90:1, which is no match for real IMAX.
  4. It doesn’t use a 12-channel-based audio system. Instead, it has standard audio systems.

Therefore, the first thing you need to ensure before you pay for an IMAX theater is if it’s Real IMAX or Digital IMAX. The Digital IMAX has also been tagged as LieMAX due to its mediocre features. 

However, the ticket does not always mention whether the theater is a real or digital IMAX. Therefore, it is better to inquire about it before investing in it. 

Comparative Review of IMAX

Although IMAX, short of “maximum image,” provides an incredibly immersive movie experience, it has pros and cons like anything else. The foremost factor that holds you back from going for IMAX is its skyrocketing rates. However, some say the experience you get is worth the cost, while others might disagree. Since there are many other competitors in the market, e.g., 4DX, Dolby Cinema, etc., it gets hard to pick one. 

However, the 4DX might not be everyone’s favorite since it sometimes gets annoying due to its extra effects, i.e., seats shaking, fogging, scents, water sprays, etc. Not everyone would like to experience these effects other than watching them on the screen. 

4DX and Dolby Cinema

Dolby cinema, on the other hand, provides more or less the same immersive movie-watching experience, but its availability is comparatively lesser. IMAX cinemas can be easily located compared to the effort and distance you must cover to reach a far-away Dolby Cinema. Above all, Dolby Cinema’s ticket is more expensive than IMAX’s. 

User Opinions and Experiences on IMAX

The debate on whether IMAX is worth the experience has been a topic of discussion among movie enthusiasts for years. Here’s a compilation of opinions and experiences:

1. Sound and Picture Quality:

  • One user emphasizes the superior sound quality in IMAX, comparing it favorably to Dolby Cinema. However, they mention that the picture quality can vary depending on the type of projector used.
  • Another individual describes the IMAX experience as “massive” and highlights the impact of the sound and picture quality, especially when watching movies like “Dune.”

2. Aspect Ratio and Visuals:

  • Two participants stress the importance of the full aspect ratio in IMAX, which enhances the visual experience.
  • A former filmmaker shares his transformative experience watching movies in IMAX 3D, emphasizing how it can elevate even mediocre movies.

3. IMAX vs. LieMAX:

  • Several contributors point out the difference between true IMAX and “LieMAX” theaters. They suggest doing research to find a genuine IMAX theater for the best experience.

4. Personal Experiences:

  • One comment describes IMAX as offering a “bigger better picture, bigger better sound,” especially when compared to regular theaters.
  • Another individual emphasizes the immersive nature of IMAX, stating that it’s always worth it for them.
  • Two participants mention that the worthiness of IMAX depends on the movie. While movies like “Prometheus” and “Mad Max Fury Road” were enhanced by IMAX, some Marvel movies didn’t offer the same level of enhancement.

5. IMAX Alternatives:

  • A suggestion from one of the forums considers Dolby Cinema as an alternative, praising its visual and sound quality. The original poster expresses interest in understanding the difference between Dolby Cinema and regular theaters.

6. Is IMAX Worth the Higher Ticket Price?

  • One user mentioned that the worthiness of IMAX depends on the movie and the theater. A grand theater with laser projection playing a blockbuster like “Dune” is absolutely worth it.
  • Another user stated that for movies they’re particularly excited about, IMAX is their first choice.
  • Some believe that supporting IMAX theaters is essential, especially since they offer a unique experience compared to regular theaters.

7. Why Do People Watch IMAX?

  • Users shared personal stories, like one whose father worked closely with IMAX on print quality, which made the experience more sentimental.
  • Many appreciate the superior picture, sound, and overall experience that IMAX offers.
  • Some users even compared IMAX to other formats, like Dolby, and shared their preferences based on picture quality and screen size.

8. Is IMAX Worth a 2-hour Drive?

  • The consensus seems to be that for a truly immersive experience, especially for movies shot with IMAX in mind, the drive is worth it. Some users even mentioned flying to other countries or driving multiple hours for specific IMAX experiences.
  • However, some users also pointed out that not all IMAX theaters offer the same quality, and it’s essential to research the specific theater’s technology before making the trip.

9. Is IMAX an Overall Good Thing for Cinema?

  • The immersive format of IMAX is undeniable, but some users expressed concerns about losing a portion of the frame when watching the movie in any other format later on.
  • Some users believe that while IMAX is fantastic in theaters, the transition to the home cinema can be distracting due to the change in aspect ratio.
  • The economic impact of IMAX was also discussed, with some users pointing out that movies might earn at a slightly lower rate because people prefer to watch them in premium formats like IMAX.

Why You Might Want to Check Out “Oppenheimer” in IMAX

So, you’ve already seen “Oppenheimer” on a big screen, but not in IMAX, right? And now you’re wondering if it’s worth the extra effort (and maybe a bit of a drive) to see it in IMAX 70mm. Well, let’s talk about why this might be a great idea.

The Big Deal with IMAX 70mm

First off, IMAX 70mm isn’t just your regular big screen. It’s like stepping into the movie. The screen is huge, and the picture quality? It’s like you’re right there in the middle of the action. For a movie like “Oppenheimer,” which has a lot of detailed scenes and a rich story, this can make a big difference. You’ll see things you probably missed the first time.

Catching All the Details

Watching “Oppenheimer” again in IMAX could be a game-changer, especially if you found the story a bit complex. With the massive screen and crystal-clear images, you’re likely to catch little details and understand the story even better. It’s like putting on a pair of glasses and seeing everything more clearly.

The Sound is Something Else

And let’s not forget about the sound in IMAX. It’s not just louder; it’s like the sound is all around you. Every whisper, every explosion feels real. In a movie like “Oppenheimer,” where every sound counts, this can make your experience a lot more intense.

So, Is It Worth It?

Think about it this way: if you liked “Oppenheimer” the first time, seeing it in IMAX could be like watching a whole new movie. Sure, it’s the same film, but the experience is on another level. It’s not just watching a movie; it’s like being a part of it.

So, if you’re up for a bit of a drive and want to experience “Oppenheimer” in a totally new way, give IMAX 70mm a shot. It could turn out to be one of those movie experiences you’ll talk about for a long time!


All in all, IMAX quality is almost 6x better than a standard cinema. With its gigantic screen, immersive 12-channel audio system, LASER projection, and comfortable seating, IMAX makes the movie-watching time worthwhile. However, looking for all the other aspects mentioned above is always recommended before jumping to any conclusion. Choosing one is your choice. 

Although there are several benefits, the gigantic screen may sometimes cause motion sickness in some people, making it a little uncomfortable. Furthermore, the tickets for IMAX are more expensive than the Standard Cinemas, so you must consider these factors before making a decision.


What Makes IMAX Unique in the World of Cinema?

IMAX stands out for several reasons. First, it builds its own projectors, ensuring a level of quality control and technological specificity that is unique in the industry. Second, IMAX uses a 70mm film format with a 1.43:1 aspect ratio, which is different from traditional cinema formats. This allows for a more immersive and detailed viewing experience. Lastly, IMAX theaters often feature significantly larger screens compared to other premium formats, although there are smaller “LieMAX” screens as well.

Is the IMAX Sound Experience Really Different?

Yes, IMAX sound systems are custom-built and feature proprietary technology designed to provide a more powerful and immersive audio experience. The systems are calibrated daily to ensure they meet the filmmakers’ intended audio output. However, some viewers find the volume levels in IMAX theaters to be too loud.

Is It Worth Paying Extra for an IMAX Ticket?

The value of an IMAX ticket can depend on several factors, including the movie you’re planning to see and your personal preferences for audio-visual experiences. If the movie has been shot using IMAX cameras, the extra cost is often justified by the enhanced visual and auditory experience. However, for movies not shot in IMAX, other premium formats like Dolby Cinema or Regal RPX may offer comparable quality at a lower price.

Does every movie benefit from being viewed in IMAX?

Not necessarily. While some people mentioned that movies with expansive scenery or large characters, like Godzilla or Jurassic Park, might benefit from IMAX, others feel that most narrative-driven movies might not need the extra effect, and the heightened experience might not be worth the additional cost for them.

What is the difference between Real IMAX and Digital IMAX (“Liemax”)?

Real IMAX screens are significantly larger, often around 75-100 ft tall, and utilize a 1.44:1 aspect ratio, almost “full-screen.” In contrast, Digital IMAX screens, often retrofitted standard theater screens, are smaller and use a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, standard widescreen. Many users prefer the immersive experience of a real, enormous-screen IMAX over the “digital IMAX,” citing it as the genuine, worthwhile IMAX experience.

Are all IMAX screens the same?

No, there are variances in IMAX screens and theaters. Some theaters accommodate IMAX better than others, and the quality of presentation can differ significantly between them. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose a theater that provides a genuine IMAX experience to fully appreciate the enhanced visual and auditory elements it offers.

How can I find a real IMAX Theater?

It’s suggested to refer to lists and maps available online, but also to be cautious and double-check the provided information. Wikipedia’s list is mentioned as a reliable source, and users are advised to search for 15/70, which denotes 15-perf 70mm, characteristic of real IMAX.

Does the use of IMAX cameras significantly affect the viewing experience?

Yes, movies shot with IMAX cameras are said to offer a different level of experience when viewed in IMAX. The enhanced detail and scope provided by the IMAX format are best appreciated in theaters that can accommodate the technology, especially if the movie contains scenes with extensive details or where the scale is crucial.

Is IMAX only about visual effects?

IMAX is not just about special effects; it’s also about enhanced cinematography and sound quality. For some movies, especially those where a lot is going on visually, IMAX can offer a superior and more immersive viewing experience. The IMAX sound boost is also a notable enhancement, providing richer and louder sound quality, which can significantly elevate the viewing experience.

I’m Shaun Conroy, an audiophile & founder of HiFi Audios. Holding a Bachelor’s in Sound Engineering, I bring deep expertise in audio devices and offer insights & recommendations to fellow enthusiasts.

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