IMAX Private Theater
If you have about £300,000 ($400K) to spare, IMAX Private Theater division will now build an IMAX cinema setup in your own home.
The entry-level IMAX Private Theater is the “Palais,” which starts at about £300K for a screening room with up to 18 seats. For your money you get dual 4K 2D/3D projectors, a proprietary IMAX sound system, and a media playback system that supports everything you might want to throw at it (TV, games, Blu-ray, etc.) No word on the exact specifications of the projectors, but they’re probably not IMAX-with-laser. Screen size will vary depending on the setup, but generally they will be 3 metres (10ft) tall or more.
Stepping up to the “Platinum” IMAX home theater for about £750,000 ($1 million) gets you a much larger screening room with space for up to 40 people. The IMAX website doesn’t break out the specs of the Platinum setup, but presumably it’s similar to the Palais. Both the Palais and Platinum models come with automatic daily self-calibration to ensure optimal picture and audio setup, 24/7 remote monitoring (whatever that means in the context of home theaters), and, of course, the design and architecture of the room itself is so exquisite that your friends will think you have great taste (if that was ever in doubt).
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Private Theater is that IMAX is also selling a separate box (priced at about £7.5K/$10K) that lets customers watch new films as they’re released at major cinemas. The box, called Home Premier, uses fingerprint recognition for security. Users still have to pay an unspecified rental fee for each screening on top of the £7.5K up-front cost, too. (Prima Cinema, which offers a similar service, charges $500 per screening.)
The first two IMAX Private Theater showrooms are in China, with three showrooms planned for the US. IMAX will expand the Private Theater operation into Europe at some point, according to Bloomberg. IMAX says the Home Premier box will only be sold in Asia, though: cinemas in US and Europe generally have gnarly exclusivity rights on new releases that would make it a tough sell over here.
Long-time Ars readers will hopefully appreciate the deep irony of IMAX Private Theater. Back in June last year, IMAX sent us a letter asking that we retract a statement made by a software developer quoted in a story about SteamVR. The developer, Alex Schwartz, said that SteamVR was “like saying, ‘I have an IMAX theater in my house.'” At the time, IMAX said that the statement was misleading to use the trademarked term “IMAX” in relation to a “room-scale” virtual reality setup. The company apologised for its overzealousness just three days later. And hey presto, 12 months later, you really can have an IMAX Private Theater in your own house.