IMAX domination coming this Summer

By Scott Mendelson Simply put, during the first twelve weeks of summer (May 4th to July 20th), there are six, maybe seven major movies all debuting in IMAX for at least the first week of their respective theatrical runs. Three of them are in May, one is in June, and two or three are in July. What are they you ask? Well…

The Avengers goes first on May 4th, with a week of 3D IMAX play before losing (or sharing?) those screens to Warner Bros’ Dark Shadows. Despite its big-scale action and explosions, Universal’s $212 million Battleship will go out purely on 35mm 2D film, which gives the Tim Burton vampire comedy two full weeks until it loses its 2D IMAX screens to Sony’s Men In Black 3D. Universal again forgoes IMAX for its next major tentpole, the $175 million (!!) Snow White and the Huntsmen, which debuts on June 1st. That gives Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones a two week run before being supplanted by 20th Century Fox’s Prometheus, which will get 3D IMAX screens for 3.5 weeks, owing to the surprising choice by Pixar to not go IMAX for Brave on June 22nd. and Paramount’s GI Joe: Retribution going out in 35mm 2D on June 29th. If that changes, then just add another one or two to the June tally. But come July 3rd, Sony steals the IMAX screens right back for The Amazing Spider-Man 3D. Spidey gets the IMAX screens for at least 1.5 weeks before Fox debuts Ice Age: Continental Drift on July 13th (which isn’t listed on the IMAX home page but is listed as debuting in IMAX 3D in Fox’s marketing materials). Come what may, summer basically ends on July 20th.

That of course is the release date for Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, which not only features large chunks of the film shot on IMAX film but actually seems to be keeping those IMAX screens all the way until October 5th, when Disney debut’s Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Although not listed on the IMAX website, it is possible that Disney’s Finding Nemo 3D reissue and/or Sony’s Resident Evil: Retribution will end up going the IMAX route in September. That the last six weeks of summer 2012 features not a single IMAX debut would signify either that Warner Bros scored a sweet exclusive multi-month run for their last Batman film or that the studios are signaling that the movies they really care about will be debuting in the first two months of summer. Looking over what comes out during the last six weeks of summer, there isn’t much to get excited about. Universal unleashes The Bourne Legacy (yay…), while Sony releases Total Recall: Redux (joy…). Step Up 4D doesn’t need the IMAX upgrade, nor does Tyler Perry’s The Marriage Counselor. ParaNorman, like Coraline before it, is going purely the 3D route.

But there is one film that probably should seriously consider paying for the IMAX upcharge. I’m speaking of course about Lionsgate’s The Expendables II, which drops on August 13th. Whether or not the movie is any good and whether or not the film ends up with a PG-13 ‘thanks’ to Chuck Norris (although I’m pretty sure that was the plan all along), Lionsgate could signify that its action sequel is even more of a genuine event than the first film by wrestling some of those IMAX screens away from the Caped Crusader. As I’ve said before, as 3D becomes less and less popular among general audiences, IMAX is again taking the role that it was destined to have before Avatar changed the game just over two years ago. Thanks to Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, IMAX once again means that your would-be tentpole is a big deal, something worth paying attention to, and (most importantly) something worth seeing on the biggest screen you can find. After all, as 3D televisions become more accessible, IMAX becomes the last/best hope for offering a theatrical experience that you absolutely cannot duplicate at home.

We’ll see if studios remain happy with these brief 1-2 week IMAX runs or whether a genuine competition erupts over the limited number of screens, but it would seem that summer 2012 is the summer where IMAX becomes almost a standard element for highlighting that your major would-be franchise picture is more important than the other guy’s. Your turn to chime in. What summer 2012 films will you opt to see in IMAX?

To read more go to Mendelson’s Memo

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