Today, the iconic BFI IMAX cinema reopened its doors to film fans following an ambitious refurbishment to create a completely immersive cinema experience. Wide-ranging enhancements include a new 4K IMAX with Laser projection system, booming 12-channel sound technology and a brand new 65 foot IMAX screen – still reigning supreme as the nation’s biggest – all combining to keep the iconic Waterloo destination a must for movie lovers. This follows the BFI resuming the day-to-day running and programming of the landmark venue in July 2022.
Since launching 1999, BFI IMAX has become one of the most successful IMAX cinemas in the world, welcoming an average of 300,000 visitors each year and playing host to some of the world’s biggest film premieres including Eternals, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Inception, The Batman and X-Men: Apocalypse. A-list talent have attended events at BFI IMAX, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise, Salma Hayek, Robert Pattinson, Hugh Jackman, Thandiwe Newton, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kit Harrington, Gemma Chan, and even Prince William attending for screenings, premieres or to catch the latest releases themselves in the best possible way.
The impressive upgrade will offer audiences both a premium technical and first-class customer experience. The cinema giant has introduced IMAX with Laser, designed exclusively for IMAX screens. The next generation 4K laser projection system features a new optical engine and a suite of proprietary IMAX technologies that deliver increased resolution, sharper and brighter images and deeper contrast as well as the most distinct, vivid colours ever available on-screen, and an increased contrast, brightness and colour that only IMAX can deliver.
The impressive new screen, which is a staggering 65 feet high – the equivalent of five double decker buses – and 85 feet wide, will now also feature IMAX’s new 12-channel sound technology, with new side and overhead channels that deliver greater dynamic range and precision for the ultimate in audio immersion and cinematic experience. The first film to be displayed in this dazzling definition on the new screen will be the hugely anticipated Marvel film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And blockbuster fans won’t have long to wait before Avatar: The Way of Water opens on 16 December.
Other upgrades to the 493-seater auditorium include plush new seats with four wheelchair spaces and new carpeting. With the BFI resuming management of the venue in the summer, it also brings its expansive programming expertise to the venue, offering a diverse range of screenings and events that will attract audiences of all ages and backgrounds. The programme will feature complementary seasons and events with its neighbouring venue, BFI Southbank, creating a film hub destination for the capital that embraces and celebrates a broad range of screen culture.
Alongside the new projection system sits a traditional 70mm IMAX projector – of which less than 60 remain globally – and a standard D-Cinema projection system, plus scope to project from 35mm and standard 70mm. This range of cinematic options, underpinned by BFI’s world-class programming, cements BFI IMAX as a destination to experience the art of filmmaking, from cutting edge blockbuster IMAX releases to much loved classics.
Since July 2022, BFI IMAX programme highlights have included Moonage Daydream, the cinematic odyssey exploring David Bowie‘s creative and musical journey which was seen by more people at BFI IMAX than at any other screen in the UK on its seven day run, and Fire of Love, which follows two bold explorers capturing the most spectacular imagery ever recorded of their greatest passion: volcanoes. The venue also presented its first ever screening in IMAX of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (marking its 40th anniversary) and Jaws.
Ben Roberts, BFI CEO, said: “We are extremely excited to re-launch BFI IMAX with these upgrades to deliver an even greater cinematic experience. This screen has always been a cultural destination for London, and in resuming programming of this iconic landmark our ambition is to grow audiences for a rich diversity of screen culture. We’ve got a lot of exciting things planned over the coming months, starting with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of Water, but also showcasing a catalogue of classic and new films, proving that there is something for everyone here at BFI IMAX. We can’t wait for people to experience it!”
Giovanni Dolci, Chief Sales Officer, IMAX, said: “The BFI IMAX theatre is one of London’s great symbols of culture and community, and we’re thrilled to bring our audiences an even more cutting-edge and immersive moviegoing experience at this much-loved and internationally recognized destination. This is one of our top-performing screens worldwide and a venue of choice for some of cinema’s greatest filmmakers, and we’re excited for fans to return to the BFI with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Avatar: The Way of Water and a strong slate of ambitious movies ahead.”
So what does the new technology mean for cinemagoers?
- Sharpness: Experience incredible detail in every image with a sharper, clearer and crisper picture that delivers a heightened level of realism on the biggest screens.
- Brightness: Laser brings an increased level of brightness to fill IMAX screens with the most vivid and lifelike images in 2D and 3D.
- Contrast: Dramatically greater contrast levels in each frame provides a level of depth that takes you out of your world and draws you into the film.
- Colour: The widest range of colours available to filmmakers so they can present more vibrant, deeper and richer colours in IMAX than ever before.
- Sound: Whether it’s a pin drop or feeling the heart-palpating force of a volcano, with IMAX’s next-generation 12-channel sound system audiences will experience a new kind of powerful, immersive sound they can feel.
Suffice it to say that we here at Critical Popcorn are big fans of the BFI IMAX, having reviewed many big releases including: Tenet, Uncharted, Jurassic World Dominion, 1917, The Matrix Resurrections, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and many more to come…