IMAX Launches Private Theatre

By Paul Self

theater_view3_v03-0813I have been the acting interim GM for the IMAX Private Theatre for the last two-plus years and have the inside scoop on the entire program. This has been a great consulting gig for my new business and it was a great chance to work with some really talented people.

Many have speculated about what this new division will do; now you will get the real insight. However, I will warn you right up front, IMAX protects its intellectual property very closely. The technical details will not be disclosed, but as you would expect from a flagship product from such an iconic company, its technical capabilities and specifications are the foundations for its industry preeminence. Besides, the technology specifications are only a part of IMAX’s story because its uniqueness is the fact that the employees obsessively focus on having all the components working harmoniously in concert to create the IMAX experience — something that is (un)arguably peerless in the commercial world. It always amazes me when people ask about brightness levels, SPLs or any other spec. Does a brighter projector make a better image? Does a louder sound system sound better? No. Delivering the right experience is all that matters and that is why film makers hold IMAX in such high regard.

The new IMAX Private Theatre is more than just taking the exhibitor product line and shoving it into a house. We spent almost three years developing customer requirement docs, producing business models, conducting market research, testing the models, making pre-release sales, and building prototypes.

Here are the highlights:

12181_DetailComponents_Projector_B01_LR02-v1-0813System – This is a completely assembled system from the IMAX factory in Toronto. This is not a collection of disparate pieces being coerced into a theatrical experience. The system was designed from the ground up to be an IMAX system.

        • Dual 4K cinema-grade projectors.
        • 2D and 3D
        • 4K image enhancer
        • A brand new  7.1 IMAX surround sound system
        • An IMAX curved screen  that spans from wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling
        • Movie server capable of ingesting DVD and Blu-ray.
        • Aux inputs for computers, video games, and other client supplied content.
        • Control system with tablet and hand held remote. There is a basic API to communicate with other control systems
        • All the amps, switchers, DAs and other gear to make the system work.
        • Equipment rack
        • Multi-window processor


        • Capacity for client supplied cable/satellite boxes. Yes, you can watch the Superbowl in an IMAX Private Theatre.
        • Each IMAX Private Theatre is custom designed for the space.


  • Seating capacity is scalable
  • Room is built by the client per IMAX’s specifications
  • The client has interior design and seating flexibility

Service – The IMAX Service department currently supports 800+ theaters worldwide with a industry-leading up time. IMAX shares revenue on ticket sales and is very adamant about keeping their theaters up and running. A similar service is extended to the IMAX Private Theater client.

  • A five year bumper-to-bumper service/warranty program is included.
  • 24/7 remote monitoring from IMAX staffed operating center
  • Five minute response time to faults
  • Auto adjustment and calibration tools are built into the system
  • On the ground support within 48 hours.


  • IMAX owns their brand experience top to bottom and therefore contracts directly with the end-user.
  • Calibration and christening via IMAX staff.

Retail – Prices start in excess of $2 million

  • IPT-Plaque---May-2013-0813Includes complete system
  • Does not include building the room, furniture, or acoustical treatments.
  • Icing on the cake – Every IMAX Private Theater is branded with an IMAX limited edition plaque. Many people say they have a home theater that is “just like an IMAX”. This plaque authenticates it as a genuine IMAX theater.

The business model for the integration industry is to have a Certified Technology Partner program. This is not a dealer reseller program. The IMAX Partners will assist with the sale, be paid as part of the installation, and be tier one of the service program. In addition to a strong compensation model, there are other benefits including: brand affiliation, system sales for the remainder of the property, and Lead Transfers of disqualified leads. The last one is a pretty important benefit because the brand attracts a lot of responses, but the space requirement plus the price will create significant leads that will convert to traditional theaters. Feel free to contact me to discuss this option.

IMAX is known for delivering a very immersive theatrical experience since 1967. Its branding statement, “IMAX is Believing,” embodies the company’s passion for delivering a great experience. I have been on every side of the business in the CEDIA and InfoComm space since 1987. I thought I had a good understanding of how to deliver a great experience, but IMAX’s commitment to its brand was eye-opening.

I am available to answer questions and/or make connections into the IMAX business model.

Reach Paul Self at or (949) 378-0665.