Operators of traditional IMAX theaters are up in arms over the giant-screen company's plans to retrofit more than 170 existing multiplexes with digital systems that will project IMAX movies onto screens that are half the size of current IMAX screens. (The new screens are 40x60 feet or 2,400 sq. ft.; the traditional ones are about 60x80 feet or 4,800 sq. ft. -- although a few are larger.) The LF Examiner , which covers the large-format exhibition business reported that Toby Mensforth, chairman of the Giant Screen Cinema Association, told IMAX Co-CEO Richard Gelfond at a meeting of the association in New York last week that he had "grossly underestimated" the concerns of IMAX exhibitors and asked him to give the smaller digital venues a different brand name. Gelfond responded that such a proposition was "really off the table" since the IMAX experience involves more than simply a big screen but also the seating, sound, content, and color. "It's the sum of all parts." But Mark Bretherton, CEO of Australia's LG IMAX Theatre in Sydney, told LF Examiner "Tell [ticket buyers] they will have an IMAX experience and then offer them something below their expectations and they will feel cheated." And Ed Lantz, an expert on digital planetariums, commented that IMAX's "disregard for existing stakeholders who essentially built the IMAX brand over the last decades is a major PR blunder in my opinion, with extensive moral, if not financial, repercussions."
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