When IMAX first debuted in the United States, it was assumed it would be a great format for showcasing the grandeur of documentaries and nature films. But in recent years, every blockbuster to come through theaters has been offered in IMAX. This weekend one of the most hotly anticipated films of the year opens, which begs the question: Should you spring to see Solo: A Star Wars Story in IMAX or will the normal big screen suffice?
The hotly anticipated movie is made in the same spirit of Rogue One, intended not to further the overall Star Wars saga but to fill in gaps in the viewers knowledge. In this case, the focus is on the early life of Han Solo: just how did he become the scoundrel we grew to love and what was his life like before he hooked up with the Rebellion? Chewbacca and Solo's longtime friend Lando Calrissian — played by Donald Glover — also get plenty of screen time.
The film is sure to include a lot of throwback details to other films in the franchise as well as an epic chase or two. And viewing it on an IMAX screen would serve those elements well and let the viewer get totally immersed into the complex scenery of new planets.
But was Solo: A Star Wars Story created to be seen in IMAX? That's an important distinction that can make or break the experience.
Although the producers and directors of Solo: A Star Wars Story haven't commented on whether they advise watching the movie in IMAX, Fansided reported that movie can indeed be viewed in IMAX. And those behind the film did go through the trouble of shooting key scenes for an IMAX screening, according to Variety, which is a good indication they really want to make the experience worth it.
Disney, which owns the Star Wars franchise, recently resigned its deal with IMAX, according to Variety, so all of the company's big tentpole films are at least partially filmed using IMAX technology. And that includes Solo: A Star Wars Story, which means viewers should really experience everything from the X-Wing fighters zooming by to Lando Calrissian’s cape blowing in the breeze.
And don’t forget that IMAX sound is as technically complex as its visuals, as Gizmodo explained, which means Chewie’s comments and Solo's smirking silences will all be crystal clear.
The cost of an IMAX ticket is usually $3 to $4 more than a normal ticket, according to information from theater chains AMC and Regal. That may be well worth it for many viewers. But if you're taking your little ones with you to see the latest installment, it's important to keep their limits in mind. For some children, especially young ones, the audio and visual stimulation of the IMAX theater may be overwhelming, as Fandango explained. And anything that might be a little scary is going to be bigger than life on that massive screen.
"Many kids won't react any differently to an IMAX movie than a regular one, but some might be frightened by the supersized screen," according to Fandango. "...those particularly prone to motion sickness might feel a bit queasy during an IMAX showing (3D movies can trigger motion sickness in those who are sensitive as well)."
So, ultimately, if you’re a casual viewer, or are really just interested in seeing how the creators developed the origin story for Han Solo, it’s probably not worth it to spring the extra bucks for a IMAX screening. But if you’re the viewer who wants the complete visual and audio experience alongside the story, then the extra money will certainly be well spent.