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Myrtle Beach IMAX, 1325 Celebrity Circle: November 2011   11 comments

Posted at 12:20 am in Uncategorized

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IMAX theaters are kind of an odd duck in the movie world. They have tremendous screens and potentially a lot of advantages over regular theaters, but all seem to be run on kind of an amateur basis. For a time, South Carolina had two IMAX screens, one at the Charleston Aquarium, and this one at Broadway At The Beach in Myrtle Beach.

I used to go down to the Charleston one fairly regularly for spectacles like Harry Potter and The Polar Express. I wasn't too surprised when it went under as the parking situation was rather fraught.

Given the amount of time I spend on the Grand Strand, it always surprised me how seldom I got to the Myrtle Beach IMAX. It just seemed that whenever I would check it out, it was all sharks & dinosaurs. From time to time there would be a a good second run movie there, like Beauty & The Beast, The Phantom Menace or The Dark Knight, but it was always six months or more after the fact, by which time I had usually seen them elsewhere. (Though for the record, the IMAX cut of The Phantom Menace was much better than the regular theatrical release because the hard running-time limit imposed on IMAX at the time, due to the huge weight of the reels, forced Lucasfilms to cut a lot of the dross..).

This pattern continued even when IMAX hit its peak nationally with big hits. Given the lackluster record of the Myrtle Beach site, I wasn't too surprised when it closed in November of 2011. As it turns out though, there was a reason the place was so far below its potential. According to The Sun News the IMAX actually had a non-compete agreement with the Carmike 16 adjoining it at Broadway At The Beach. The fact that they would ever have agreed to such a thing kind of confirms my opinion of the amateur nature of IMAX management, but does explain why they never had the hit first-run movies. The ampitheatre re-opened this summer as a Carmike property, using a different big-screen technology called BIGD. I have not had a chance to check it out, but presumably there is no longer an issue of Carmike competing with itself.

Currently South Carolina has no IMAX locations. I believe that Charlotte is the closest outlet, but I have incorporated an IMAX stop into my Florida vacations for the last few years of big releases. Tampa had two, one at the port Canalside complex in Ybor City, and one at the big science museum. The Canalside location closed a year or so ago, and the last two years, I have hit the World Golf Hall of Fame location in St. Augustine for Dark Knight offerings. I'm pretty sure that this summer they had switched to digital projection, and it was much less impressive. In fact, I'm pretty sure I could see pixels at times. IMAX seems to be floundering at the corporate level as well as at the local. In recent years, they have diluted their brand by revamping mall-type multiplexes and labeling them IMAX. This, of course, leads Internet wags to label these outlets as "Liemax" locations, and there is no easy way to tell from their publicity which locations are true IMAX and which are not. In the meantime, Hollywood seems to be betting that High Frame Rate rather than huge screens is the next big thing. I guess time will tell, but in the meantime, even sharks and dinosaurs are gone from Myrtle Beach.

Written by ted on February 18th, 2013

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11 Responses to 'Myrtle Beach IMAX, 1325 Celebrity Circle: November 2011'

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  1. Somewhat of a lurker here have read on and off for about a year or two first time commenting. There is actually an IMAX theater in Simpsonville, SC I saw the Dark Knight Rises there over the summer. Believe it's called The Great Escape and has 14 screens. Anyways, enjoy the site keep it up.

    Fro

    18 Feb 13 at 4:35 am

  2. The theater in Simpsonville, according to the IMAX website, is one of the refurbished multiplex screens that's been stretched somewhat (as Ted refers to it above, a "LieMAX"). The nearest "real" IMAX is Charlotte.

    Mike

    18 Feb 13 at 8:11 am

  3. Echoing the previous two posters, I've been to Simpsonville, and it's labeled as IMAX, but it's barely that. Probably more 70mm that's been stretched a bit. And they upcharge 3 or 4 dollars for that theater. Waste of money.

    Matthew

    18 Feb 13 at 8:13 am

  4. There is a full IMAX at Citadel Mall in Charleston

    Thomas

    18 Feb 13 at 8:23 am

  5. Here is a image of what the Myrtle Beach IMAX looked like: http://www.charlieplace.com/myrtle10/11.JPG

    Casey G

    18 Feb 13 at 12:10 pm

  6. They're planning to put in an IMAX screen at The Sandhills theater.

    Elizabeth

    18 Feb 13 at 12:24 pm

  7. The IMAX at Channelside closed? Bummer. That's the one we had to go do when we lived down there, since the theater in Lakeland hadn't opened up an IMAX screen at the time.

    IMAX is just a brand name, though, not a format. Other chains have their own large-format theaters that are IMAX in everything but name. The Regal theater at Sandhills has their RPX screen, and I can't tell enough of a difference between that and IMAX to care anymore.

    Jason

    18 Feb 13 at 12:25 pm

  8. @Jason -- yep. Last time I went there, it was had changed over to some Sony big-screen concept. I remember seeing the first Dark Knight there. It was really a *wow* moment when the actual IMAX shot footage would kick in, and you could feel the collective breath intake from the crowd.

    I think the science museum one is still there.

    ted

    19 Feb 13 at 12:47 am

  9. There has been talk for years about an IMAX at the State Museum, but that is all it has been., talk.

    Tom

    19 Feb 13 at 8:53 am

  10. In reference to Jason's comment, I thought that was the whole point of your (ted's) description of IMAX vs LieMAX, that IMAX was in fact a format. Is it not?

    JBL

    20 Feb 13 at 12:34 am

  11. It was a format, but the company is trying to turn it into a brand that they can slap onto anything.

    Here is a fairly lucid explanation.

    Here too.

    ted

    20 Feb 13 at 1:43 am

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