Guide to IMAX Movie Theaters in Washington, D.C.

Graphical representation of an audience enjoying an IMAX 3D film.


IMAX is a movie experience with images up to eight stories high and wrap-around digital surround sound. It shows features films with state-of-the-art cinematography and stunning scenery that lets audiences feel like they are really at exotic destinations.

If you're visiting the Washington, D.C. area, the Smithsonian has two IMAX theaters close to the city:

You can buy IMAX tickets online, at box offices, and by phone, but if you purchase tickets at the IMAX box offices, be sure to plan ahead and buy them early for a later showing. Also, plan to explore the museum while waiting for your show time as show schedules are subject to change without notice.

Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater

The Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum often hosts a variety of educational IMAX experiences, but they occasionally screen family-friendly films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens or A Wrinkle in Time.

In February 2016, the Smithsonian Theaters launched IMAX’s new laser projection system in the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater. The system gives audiences some of the sharpest, brightest, clearest, and most vivid digital images ever, combined with a new level of immersive audio. The Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater is among the first theaters in the world to feature this cutting-edge technology, and the museum’s 74-by-49-foot screen is one of the largest screens in the Mid-Atlantic. The theater’s upgrade includes a brand-new screen, new state-of-the-art 3D glasses that optimize the laser system experience, and a new sound and projection system.

While visiting the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, you can also take a 20-minute tour of the universe at the Albert Einstein Planetarium. The Planetarium uses a high-tech digital projection system and six-channel digital surround sound to give you the sensation of zooming across the skies and through the galaxy.

Airbus IMAX Theater

The other Smithsonian IMAX theater in the Washington, D.C. is the Airbus IMAX Theater at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

The Airbus IMAX Theater was among the first in the world to have a dual 4K laser projection system with a 12-channel sound system. It has remained up-to-date with the addition of a new 86-foot wide screen and 3D glasses to optimize the experience.

This theater's roster features some of the best cinematography in Hollywood cinema paired with educational IMAX experiences including films about D-Day in Normandy, aircraft carriers, and journeys to outer space. It's an ideal destination for cinematography and graphics enthusiasts of all ages.

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