IMAX CEO Responds To Aziz Ansari’s Complaints

Yesterday I brought word of a blog post from “Human Giant” veteran Aziz Ansari in which he lambasted the IMAX Corporation for what he considered to be false advertising. The comedian was enraged after paying an IMAX surcharge for a ticket to see J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” only to discover that the screen was far smaller than one would typically expect from an “IMAX Experience.”

All of that happened yesterday. Today IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond has fired back in a MainStreet interview with a response to Ansari’s claims. The problem is that Gelfond fails to really address those claims in any significant way. He instead cites the continuing success of his company’s film format, perhaps hoping to deflect the fact that Ansari may actually have a point.

Gelfond told MainStreet that “IMAX did 15% of Star Trek’s total domestic box office in the whole country on only 138 screens,” 72 of which are smaller than what is considered to be the ’standard’ size. “This is compared to the earlier releases of Watchmen, where we did 12% of the box office and Monsters and Aliens, where we did around 10%. Clearly a lot of people are going back to IMAX theaters.”

As you can see, Gelfond is quick to point out how well IMAX is doing, but he fails to address Ansari’s issues with the screen size. Personally, I agree with Ansari. The higher resolution and enhanced sound which typify IMAX presentations aren’t necessary on a smaller screen, where a plain old digital projection would look and sound just as nice, and for $5 less. I can’t imagine that I’m alone in saying I’ve always associated the IMAX brand with wall-filling movie screens. The idea that the “IMAX Experience” is being sold as anything less than that strikes me as profoundly deceptive. That said, with 72 of 138 IMAX screens sporting a smaller size, it’s clear this is nothing new.

The question then shifts to whether or not the $5 surcharge is really worth it for a diluted IMAX Experience. What do you readers think? Should the surcharge scale according to the size of the screen? Should it simply be abandoned all together for anything less than what has traditionally been considered a standard-sized IMAX screen? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.