On Wednesday 25th June 2014 at the Grove Mall in Pretoria East, Ster-Kinekor and IMAX EMEA celebrated the opening of their new IMAX theatre. It’s the first theatre of its kind in the province and the second in South Africa with a premier red carpet event…well the carpet was their signature blue to keep it in the theme of IMAX and Ster-Kinekor (and being of course in Blue Bulls territory).
I do remember having an IMAX experience years ago but have never seen a movie in 3D on this screen, they manage to pull in some big favours to make the event even more spectacular by getting UIP to allow them to preview the much-anticipated sequel, Transformers: Age of Extinction, in earth-shattering IMAX 3D – a movie that was literally made for IMAX 3D to quote Michael Bay:
“We also are the first movie in the world to shoot with the new IMAX digital 3D camera. The AGE OF EXTINCTION was formatted for 2.40 for normal theaters. What makes the IMAX version of this film so different is that 60 percent of the movie opens up and fills the whole IMAX screen. It makes Transformers 4 such an immersive experience.”
This process is a big part of the experience of watching the movie, they even make reference to it in the movie.
In The Kan as well as over 300 guests, celebs and press were in attendance to put Ster-Kinekor and their newest IMAX theatre to the test and find out if they delivered as promised. They did deliver; so well done to Ster-Kinekor firstly for making the opening of this movie and theatre an event and making the event memorable. Ster-Kinekor is definetly setting some benchmarks in South Africa for the Entertainment industry, they plan to launch another IMAX theatre in the second half of 2015 at Eastgate Mall so Joburg fans won’t have to hit so many e-tolls to get to Pretoria East.
I briefly spoke to Doug Place – Marketing Director of Ster-Kinekor Theatres to get answers on some of the pressing questions I had about IMAX.
ITK: Living in Johannesburg: Why Pretoria East and not Johannesburg?
Doug Place (DP): The development of the new mall allowed us to build the cinema complex to house an IMAX so that the architecture was perfect and optimal for the IMAX experience. IMAX is very stringent on their specifications on the layout of
the theatre and there are very few existing locations that would meet this requirement.
ITK: Is there a secret IMAX theatre in Nkandla?
DP: No, not that I am aware of.
ITK: What actually happened to the IMAX that opened years ago in Gateway shopping center in Durban which closed and then reopened?
DP: IMAX was initially a stand alone cinema in Durban which was originally an analogue format, when it opened now it had to be launched in South Africa as part of Ster-Kinekor using two digital projectors, which has already started showing blockbusters and even bollywood movie titles in this new format. The success exceeded our expectations so we felt if it worked in Durban then we could roll it out elsewhere.
ITK: Will we being seeing more glitzy red carpet events, especially around the opening of big local and international movies in South Africa, incorporating the famous movie directors and actors.
DP: Yes definitely, my department is constantly working on ways to make the movie-going experience more memorable and to go beyond the norm. As a brand and a business we are firmly committed to bringing great moments at their greatest, no one ever said they were glad they watched Transformers on DVD. Having big actors attend premiers is based on the actors availability during the dates around the premiers but we have had stars attend in the past and will continue to do so. This business is about glamour and that is why it pre-dates the automobile.
Well thanks Doug, I have definitely noticed these improvements over the years in this industry, which saw a complete turn around to what once seemed like a dying industry in South Africa. We were glad to finally chat to the person that played a part in that success and get some insight into what’s happening seeing that 2015 is going to be the biggest movie year in ages due to enormous influx of blockbusters and highly anticipated movies opening next year (Avengers 2 being one of them will likely be presented in IMAX 3-D)
Personally I think not every blockbuster movie translates well onto IMAX 3D but the ones that do make it really worth watching just like the Transformers 4 movie – getting tickets to IMAX is definitely worth it and the larger facilities take 3-D to a whole new level. Every aspect from the theatre architecture to the sound brings an incomparable movie experience; the crystal-clear images coupled with IMAX’s customised theatre geometry and powerful digital audio create a unique environment that will allow audiences feel completely immersed and truly part of the movie. Just the sound alone in this theatre is epic and it’s not just loud – its controlled and brings out some realism in the experience – you can feel it in your chest and seat when the action ramps up.
Special Thanks to Andrew Cripps – President of IMAX EMEA, Fiaz Mohamed – CEO of Ster-Kinekor Theatres, and Doug Place – Marketing Director of Ster-Kinekor Theatres for bringing this welcomed experience to Gauteng, I look forward to see what other movie titles will be coming out on IMAX.