ON JULY 20, the new CGV IMAX theater in Yongsan opened, offering viewers with the biggest IMAX screen in the world. Many other theaters are offering their own special screen formats. As a result, movie-watchers are presented with a dizzying number of options that may confuse the average viewer. Let us dive into each one and see how they differentiate from each other.
What kinds of screens are there?
There are three multiplexes in the country; however, only CGV has the authority to import IMAX screens. What is IMAX? It stands for Image MAXimum. This means that IMAX films theoretically show the maximum amount of screen that a human can see. An IMAX screen is distinguished by its 1.43:1 aspect ratio and ultra-high resolution that enables a bigger picture and greater quality than a typical movie screen. In Korea, only IMAX Digital was available before the renovation of Yongsan CGV. IMAX Digital is an entry-level IMAX that uses a digital projector instead of a film projector due to the high maintenance cost. Now you can visit IMAX theater in Yongsan to watch a movie in IMAX Laser, which is closer to the original IMAX technology. The IMAX screen in Yongsan happens to be the biggest IMAX screen in the world. The ticket for IMAX 2D costs about ₩14,000 and ₩18,000 for IMAX 3D.
CGV 4DX / Lotte Cinema SUPER 4D
The term 4DX is a combination of 4D (dimension) and Experience. It is a format that takes environmental forces in the movie and unleashes them on the viewer. For example, a tornado onscreen will trigger a wind effect on the audience. A capsizing ship will violently shake the seats and even squirt water onto the faces of the audience. Traditionally, film was a medium of sight, however, the 4D movies now provide a dynamic experience beyond the limitation of sight. Multiplexes intend to attract more people via 4DX, but the audience reaction has been mixed. According to a manager of the Cheonan Pentaport CGV, a movie like Avatar or The Martian is ideally suited for the 4DX format. But for less action-oriented movies, the audience may find the physical effects unnecessarily distracting. If the right type of movies are not released, the multiplexes may stand to lose. The cost of a typical 4DX ticket is typically about ₩14,000 to ₩15,000 for a 2D screen and ₩17,000 to ₩18,000 for a 3D screen.
CGV Screen X
Screen X is unique amongst screens in that it is not just one screen, but three: front, left and right. Using three screens, it can intensify the sensation of immersion. However, there needs to be a process of transformation to shift a one-screen movie into a three-screen movie. In fact, few movies are screened on Screen X, thus it is considered a part of the marketing strategy of CGV diversifying the screens. Still, there is a successful case. In the film Himalaya, the extreme situation was maximized and the audience felt as they were there. A ticket for Screen X typically goes for ₩14,000.
CGV Sphere X / Curved Screen
Sphere X is a combination of Sky 3D sound, a curved screen, and a recliner. Sky 3D sound extends a sound system to the ceiling and makes the audience feel like they are being surrounded by the sound of the film. In Cheonan Pentaport CGV, there is a curved screen without Sky 3D sound or any recliners. The curved screen has a 3D effect without the glasses, thus making a film more realistic. The recliner makes it possible to customize the best angle in each row. The synergy of these three components delivers a unique viewing experience. Sphere X was first launched in CGV in China and extended to Youngdeungpo CGV. However, there have also been complaints of the curved screen distorting the image. In addition, the screen is less vivid during moments of fast action. The ticket price of the curved screen is the same as one for a normal screen, but the price for a Sphere X movie may go about ₩2,000 to ₩5,000 higher.
Lotte Cinema SUPERPLEX G
CGV is unrivaled in the diversity of screens compared to its rivals, Lotte Cinema and Megabox. However, Lotte Cinema holds the Guinness World Record for the largest screen in the world. The big size of the screen is supposed to heighten visual realism; however, viewers sitting in the front rows have complained of dizziness and poor peripheral vision. It is recommended to sit in the middle or in the back to enjoy the full-size of the screen. A Yonsei student who watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales on SUPERPLEX G reported that she felt like being swept by the ocean because the background of the movie was mostly the ocean. She added that although it was a unique experience, those who are unconcerned about visual beauty will not pay ₩2,000 more to watch it on SUPERPLEX G.
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Multiplexes are seeking diversity. They offer a variety of experiences to the audience with different types of screens. The audience can enjoy a film more vividly if the screen itself is diverse. However, most movies are not yet on every screen as it depends on audience demand. As you choose what movie to watch, now you can also choose what screen to watch it on.