The Detroit Area is relatively rich in IMAX theaters compared to other areas of the country. IMAX, or "Image Maximum," is a motion picture format that produces immersive images and sound in 2-D and 3-D. IMAX is also the most widely used system in the world for special-venue film presentations.
What is IMAX?
Like the human eye, two side-by-side lenses digitally capture images and two side-by-side digital projectors display images of far greater resolution and size than conventional systems. They are displayed on extra-large Think Big IMAX screens that measure 84 feet wide by 62 feet high in purpose-built IMAX theaters.
To make room for the immense image size, the soundtrack is recorded separately on magnetic film and then played on speakers that are both in front of and in the back of the screen in a high-resolution surround-sound system with sharp sound you can both hear and feel.
In order to spread IMAX, the Canadian company that produces it introduced a modified "multiplex design," which is essentially the conversion of an existing auditorium fitted with large screens smaller than Think Big size and digitally lit projectors suitable for IMAX films.
Films shown in IMAX theaters are either produced specifically using IMAX technology, or they are conventional films that have been converted, or "digitally remastered," to the IMAX format.
IMAX in the Detroit Area
There are several IMAX theaters in the Detroit area; two are purpose-built IMAX theaters, the remainder is megaplex theaters that have been converted to multiplex-design IMAX with large screens that are nevertheless smaller than in purpose-built IMAX theaters.
In every case, check theaters for current prices and the latest social media reviews for consumer satisfaction. Multiplex-design IMAX theaters tend to rate lower than purpose-built IMAX theaters.
Located in the Henry Ford Museum, this purpose-built IMAX theater displays IMAX films on two enormous 84-feet-wide-by-62-feet-high flat screens. It also shows first-run 3-D movies. Reservations are recommended.
The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre
20900 Oakwood Boulevard
Dearborn, MI 48124
Message phone: 313-271-1570
The IMAX dome is a distinctly different viewing experience from a flat screen. The IMAX dome screen measures 3.5 stories tall and 65.7 feet in diameter, and the theater seats 238. Its films are made to wrap around the viewer both in sight and sound. The Chrysler IMAX Dome Theatre is located at the Michigan Science Center, a nonprofit that opened in 2012 after purchasing the assets of the Detroit Science Center, which closed in 2011 due to financial hardship.
The science museum has Michigan's only Chrysler IMAX Dome Theater, as well as a planetarium, a theater and science stage, a science exhibition hall, a steel industry "fun factory" and science-related exhibit galleries.
Get ready to scrunch down in your seat and look up, because the experience is something of a ride. But beware that the dome shape can distort images.
Chrysler IMAX Dome Theatre, at the Michigan Science Center
5020 John R Street
Detroit, MI 48202
The IMAX Theater at AMC Livonia 20 is part of a megaplex offering a total of 20 screens. IMAX films play on a multiplex-design screen that is somewhat smaller than in purpose-built IMAX theaters.
AMC Livonia 20
19500 Haggerty Road
Livonia, MI 48152
Message phone: 888-AMC-4FUN
The IMAX Theater at AMC Forum is part of a megaplex offering a total of 30 screens. IMAX films play on a multiplex-design screen that is somewhat smaller than in purpose-built IMAX theaters.
AMC Forum 30
M-59 and Mound Rd.
Sterling Heights, MI 48314-1321
Message phone: 888-AMC-4FUN
AMC Star Great Lakes is a megaplex with 25 screens and a multiplex-design IMAX theater with a "towering" screen, images of immense size and clarity and mind-blowing sound. The multiplex also plays RealD 3-D films.
AMC Star Great Lakes 25
Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, 4300 Baldwin Rd, Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Phone: (248) 454-0314
Ann Arbor 20 is a megaplex of 20 screens with one theater converted to the multiplex-design IMAX format. Formerly known as Rave Motion Pictures Ann Arbor 20, the name was shortened when Cinemark took ownership of the megaplex in May 2013.
Ann Arbor 20 + IMAX
4100 Carpenter Rd, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Phone: (734) 973-8424