IMAX© and Turn Down the Volume: Adventures in Movie Theaters Part 1

It sounded perfect. The AMC movie theater at First Colony Mall was offering The Day the Earth Stood Still in IMAX format. What better way to see Klaatu the alien and his big robot Gort operate as they try to figure out if our planet should be saved or not?

AMC promised "stunning images, crystal clear sound and immersive theatre design." Well the screen was big just like the IMAX screens I've seen at museums and Moody Gardens. The pictures were incredible as always. But then the sound came on and it was like nothing I've ever heard in any other IMAX theater. It was excruciating. It was painful. My ears hurt. Surely this was a mistake. Perhaps the projectionist had suffered a heart attack and died, inadvertently pushing the sound switch to the max?

I went outside to the concession stand; the screen still shouting at us from there. An employee offered to call up to the screening room; he agreed it was really loud. I went back into the theater, looking for a) less sound or b) a quieter spot in the room. Nothing. So I went out to the front desk. The sound was more than tolerable from there, but of course, there was no way to see the show. They called upstairs and were told there was no way to turn it down.

Maybe a regular commercial theater just isn't set up for the "big sound" Imax is known for with its speakers all over the theater? Maybe AMC was just trying to cram too much into too small a space, or maybe the space was not designed to handle the sound?  I took my ringing ears and my refund and left.

-- Margaret Downing

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly