Game of Thrones in IMAX : promise for future, room for experimentation

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The success of Game of Thrones in its first weekend of IMAX may be paving the road for future excursions on the big screen.

Despite six month-old content being shown on a limited amount of theaters, Game of Thrones racked up $1.5 million.

“It’s a very healthy result,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “I think you’re going to see shows like ‘House of Cards’ or other popular programs looking into this now. If you put a season premiere or series finale there, I think there’s a lot of potential, especially if there’s some exclusive element.”

Variety reports that insiders predict even bigger grosses can be achieved by showing new content in conjunction with or in advance of their air date.

IMAX has noticed the turnout for season 4’s final two episodes and is eyeing the medium for more television endeavors.

“This was a successful response for this first experiment and ‘Game of Thrones’ is a show that lends itself to the kind of canvas that IMAX provides,” said Greg Foster, chairman and president of IMAX Entertainment. “We will continue to experiment and comb over the data and figure out how to provide exhibitors with content 52 weeks out of the year.”

“‘Game of Thrones’ is an epic show that just becomes incredibly grand on IMAX,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “This was a gift to the true fans.”

There are some valuable lessons to be gleaned by how the show performed. Big cities provided the bulk of the revenue, so going forward Imax will likely limit its screen count to roughly 150 locations as opposed to the more than 200 it debuted “Game of Thrones” on, with an emphasis on shedding some of the smaller towns and suburbs.

Variety also notes that the epic nature of Game of Thrones naturally lends itself to IMAX versus other popular shows; “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family” may lead in the ratings but would not translate to the IMAX experience.

“This is a lab and we’re continuing to fine tune and find the right way to release content,” said Foster.

Any other shows you would like to see in IMAX? Don’t forget to send in reactions and other content to us if you had a chance to go!

37 responses

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    1. so going forward Imax will likely limit its screen count to roughly 150 locations as opposed to the more than 200 it debuted “Game of Thrones” on, with an emphasis on shedding some of the smaller towns and suburbs.

      So it was such a success they are going to reduce the number of venues? WTF?

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    2. I have a technical question. Although they’ve run with some new cameras (like the RED Dragon), most of the GoT is shot on a non-4K Alexa – which means the resolution is lower than what even 4K TVs can produce. How was the IMAX stuff done?

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    3. I went to a showing in a NYC suburb on Sunday at 1:00PM. Only about 20 people there. Yes, it was Super Bowl Sunday but it was still early in the day. (I was home by 3:30; in plenty of time to watch the game.)

      There were too many theaters in this area with too many showings: 4 theaters within an hour of my home. That’s “overkill” in this market. It needs to be shown in more theaters in more markets not fewer theaters in a select group of markets. Plan smarter showtimes. And promote it more. Many, many casual fans had no idea that this was happening.

      The experience itself was amazing. GOT is meant to be seen in IMAX.

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    4. I understand them pulling back on locations. At the 10pm Thursday show in Montgomery AL that I attended there was about 20 people there if that.

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    5. My city did NOT deserve a screening. I *shhh* yes I know I shouldn’t admit that and I LOVED that we got one, but we’re a “city” of 120, 000 max and there was no promotion done. I bet we get less than a 100 people in all screenings combined…

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    6. Mom and I saw it on Superbowl Sunday-(Right after a matinee showing of Paddington-she realized that GoT was being shown in that same theatre and she thought it wasn’t in Pittsburgh, so we bought tickets for a 7:30 showing and ate dinner at a Burgatory across the street.) She hadn’t even seen the rest of Season Four yet, (she likes to binge watch on DVD,) and she LOVED it. We both did. Verdict was that they should start showing every episode on the big screen like that.

      So yeah, I imagine showings of episodes in real time or advance from Season Five would do very well indeed-but they should concentrate more on the right markets.

      Still a $7,000 average per screen is nothing to sneeze at.

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    7. I’m sure it’s great. I wouldn’t know. I’d love to have seen it, but I won’t drive 4 hours. They’ll show it in freakin Stony Brook, Long Island, but not Syracuse or Albany? The theater selection baffles me.

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    8. I saw a matinee on Friday in the burbs and was quite surprised that the theater was about a third full (over 100?). There were all kinds of people attending but would say overall that the group was mainly older (over 45) and Anglo. I do hope that HBO would consider this theater again next time.

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    9. If you put a season premiere or series finale there, I think there’s a lot of potential, especially if there’s some exclusive element

      Wait, might that mean showing episodes on the big screen some time before the TV premiere? Oh god, that would be terrible for everyone who can’t make it to an U.S. IMAX, a whole new level of spoiler-avoidance tactics would need to be deployed.

      Or am I reading too much into those lines?

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    10. Turri: Wait, might that mean showing episodes on the big screen some time before the TV premiere? Oh god, that would be terrible for everyone who can’t make it to an U.S. IMAX

      This. If they begin outright discrimination against people who don’t live in a major metropolitan area, this would be a major letdown.

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    11. I went twice in Toronto, on opening night, where Neil Marshall showed up to say hello, and on Saturday night at 8pm, and both times the house was full, except for the first couple of rows right down in front.

      I enjoyed it immensely both times! The cinematography and the music were made for IMAX, and you could have heard a pin drop during the quieter dialogue scenes – the audiences were totally riveted …

      I believe that this is something they could do on a regular basis, maybe once a year, and feature particularly strong 2-episode combos, such as Eps. 9&10 of season 1, or same for season 2 including the Battle of the Blackwater, or even eps. 3&4 of season 3 when Dany gets her army, the Red Wedding etc.

      Diehard fans would show up to see these epic moments on IMAX!!

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    12. I thought “The Watchers on the Wall” and “The Children” were good episodes to translate to IMAX. Glad I saw them. Perhaps “Blackwater” would be good to see too!

      After IMAX DRM conversion costs, profits aren’t going to be that huge, but they seem to be doing this for the fans, which is really cool. Hope the experience makes it across the Not-so-Narrow Sea at some point soon.

      Other past episodes that I wouldn’t mind seeing on the huge screen would be “And Now His Watch Is Ended” and “Kissed By Fire”. I’m thinking that a few episodes in S5 will be worth converting as well. 🙂

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    13. Turri,

      I hope not, especially now when they’re going ahead of the books. I doubt HBO would do that though, it would be a massive F U to their subscribers.

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    14. Turri: Wait, might that mean showing episodes on the big screen some time before the TV premiere? Oh god, that would be terrible for everyone who make it to an U.S. IMAX, a whole new level of spoiler-avoidance tactics would need to be deployed.

      Or am I reading too much into those lines?

      They’ve already done that. Last year (or was it the year before?), I saw Ep 1 on a regular movie screen in a college town the week before the tv premiere. I would love for them to do that again, although I’m not sure I’d make the three hour drive to the college this time. Until now, I was skeptical that GRRM’s plan to end with a movie would work, but after seeing the IMAX presentation, I think that they actually might be able to draw big enough crowds world wide to pull it off. IF the show can hold on to the massive ratings it has for three more seasons. Time will tell.

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    15. Way more people would show up for Imax viewings of new episodes. The old episodes were epic enough, but the new ones? Epicness.

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    16. Thomas,

      Not sure how they did it but I can say that I thought it looked considerably worse than anything I’d ever seen in Imax before. My wife and I really enjoyed the experience but still thought the lack of sharpness to the image was disappointing.

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    17. Game of Thrones… Trailblazing as usual, starting trends like always.

      Although I like shows like ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Shameless’ I highly doubt many shows can translate into the IMAX experience.

      I know we all use this term a lot but its only because its true, Game of Thrones is an epic. I honestly think only epics would translate well on the IMAX screen. ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Shameless’ and things like that just wouldn’t work.

      Shows that might work on the IMAX that come to mind are:

      Vikings
      Marco Polo
      Black Sails

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    18. I could be missing something obvious here as I haven’t read all the background bits about the GoT IMAX thing, but was it clear why they only tried it in North America? Are all the participating cinemas owned by the same company or something along those lines?

      You would think they might have tried a few other major capital cities. Not sure about anywhere else but in the UK we don’t have that many IMAXs, although this doesn’t matter as the population is condensed into a far smaller space. The number of people within approx four hours traveling time of central London is well over the 20 million mark. IMAX is still quite shiny and new here so you’d probably get casual fans along too just for the experience. Seems more of a sure fire bet than some of the places people have described above where they’ve been spoiled for choice on venues, which have ended up fairly empty.

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    19. Arthur,

      I agree. I love “House of Cards” but I’m not sure that it is the right show for IMAX. I wouldn’t go to an IMAX to see it. I agree that the IMAX experience works for “epics” and/or for shows that are visually detailed/sophisticated.

      I would see GOT in IMAX again. It was a wonderful experience. Its too bad that so many did not get to see it.

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    20. I absolutely loved seeing it in IMAX, however, I wish they combined the episodes to make a “seemless” movie. Having Jon walk out past the wall and the screen fading out to white then to immediately start him walking out at the beginning of episode 10 would have been really cool. The credits in between the 2 episodes kinda took me out of the experience a bit. Regardless, loved it on the big screen and it gives me hope that will get an incredible visual experience for the finale of the series.

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    21. Given how far behind everything we are down here in New Zealand, it will be 6-7 years before we get GOT on IMAX here haha

      Lost is something i would go see on IMAX too thinking about it.

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    22. Thomas:
      I have a technical question. Although they’ve run with some new cameras (like the RED Dragon), most of the GoT is shot on a non-4K Alexa – which means the resolution is lower than what even 4K TVs can produce. How was the IMAX stuff done?

      I am always annoyed with the bullshit Imax-claims, just because the screen is big it doesn’t mean it can have the right to be branded as an Imax. Sadly, there’s too many cinemas out there that will charge Imax-tickets for screens that don’t deserve it at all. Here’s a good explanation to your question though: http://gizmodo.com/5250780/how-regular-movies-become-imax-films

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    23. I can’t see a way for this to work. Sure, have it playing in theaters the same time as on HBO, like a gimmick. Tickets would sell out, but you can’t make real money on only one showing…. and those who couldn’t get a ticket exactly at that time would sit at home and watch it on their TV.

      What this weekend showed is that GOT could be ended successfully with one or more movies. They would make money, maybe lots of money. I mean come on, this rerun was I think at number 15 this weekend…. compared to movies who were playing on thousands of screens. Original content, with characters people love, with dragons and zombies…. but I don’t know if HBO would be interested in doing something like that. And even if they were, would D&D? I’ve gotten the feeling that they’re slowly getting tired of the series…. they’ve been doing it for 8 years I think, so at the end, more than a decade…. they want to do different projects and now that they’re famous they can choose anything.

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    24. Lady Wolfsbane:
      Fat ‘n’ Balda,

      Yup… I would have driven to Syracuse. And Syracuse is bigger than my city. That would have made much better sense!

      I was hoping for Rochester or Syracuse. I ended up driving to Toronto (about 3 hours from my house) to see it on Saturday because the weather was good and I didn’t have anywhere else I needed to be, but it made it into an all-day event, and required a passport.

      The closest US theater that had it was about 4.5 hours away in Pennsylvania.

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