Last week saw two big announcements that were all about IMAX. First, IMAX extended the deal they have with Warner Bros. to bring 20 of the studio's biggest tentpole movies to IMAX screens throughout the next three years, with most arriving in 3D. Also, Paramount revealed that Star Trek Into Darkness -- the next big studio film to feature footage shot with IMAX cameras -- will unveil a special nine-minute 3D preview on select IMAX screens in front of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on December 14. This will mark the first time a live-action film of this caliber will arrive in 3D and also include footage shot with IMAX cameras, presenting a scenario that may make it one of the most important screenings for moviegoing since James Cameron's Avatar.
Following both announcements, I reached out to IMAX President Greg Foster to see if we could chat a little about the recent news, and also about a brand that I think best represents the future of moviegoing. Since we wound up talking for almost 30 minutes, I felt the best way to deliver our conversation to you was in smaller, more digestible forms, beginning with this post about where IMAX goes from here.
That's how our chat opened up, with me talking about the surreal IMAX presentation at San Diego Comic-Con this past summer, where they had a DJ curate a set list specifically timed to IMAX footage being projected inside a planetarium. The footage also included a special Skyfall trailer cut specifically for the event, but it was the mix of music and native IMAX footage that simply blew me away. You can read my full report on the event here.
"We actually spoke about it yesterday," Foster said with regards to that Comic-Con presentation. "We had an internal retreat at our office with our whole group and we talked about innovation, and some other areas we can expand into, and in fact music is something we're going to do. We're going to be spending a lot more time focusing on our sound because we think it's the best there is. When you take that and overlay it on our amazing presentation, and in particular with films -- like the stuff you saw at Comic-Con, some of which was shot with our cameras -- I think there's a way to create an experience; a sort of visceral, auditory, sensory experience that you really can't get anywhere else."
Foster went on to add that they "actually have something up our sleeves" that they'll announce at a later date because it's "purely in the exploratory stage," but it's exciting to see IMAX looking to branch out beyond the blockbuster.
And speaking of those blockbusters, The Dark Knight Rises was the first live-action blockbuster to feature 75 minutes of footage shot with IMAX cameras. So, realistically, how long is it before we seen an entire Hollywood movie shot with IMAX cameras? "Realistically, I think it's probably something that could happen within the next three to four to five years," Foster told me. "But I learned a long time ago that you can't count on it and you shouldn't count on it. The other thing is, I'm not sure it's completely necessary. There are certain sequences you absolutely must shoot with IMAX cameras and there are sequences you don't really have to. It would be great one day to have an entire movie shot with IMAX cameras, but I think there are certain moments when you don't really need to."
What about those 20 Warner Bros. movies arriving on IMAX screens over the next three years. Will any of them be shot with IMAX cameras? We'll post what Foster had to say about that tomorrow.
Follow along on Twitter @ErikDavis and @Moviesdotcom.