Difference Between Imax and Standard Theater

Gone are the days when you only had to search and pick a movie theater. Now you have to choose between the theater formats as well. The two most commonly available formats are Imax and Standard. Therefore, most of the time we have to choose between the two.

In some countries, 4dx is also available but it is only available in a few big luxurious movie theaters. So, due to high availability, there are some high chances every time you go to the theater you will be asked to pick Standard or Imax.

Imax is the most advanced whereas, the standard as the name suggests is a standard or satisfactory movie theater format.

Both have strengths and weaknesses, therefore you need to know the major differences to make a rational decision.

If you ask the movie theater staff, they might not provide enough information. You have to search for yourself and find out what suits you the most.

To save you from the hassle of going through hundreds of websites to come to a conclusion, here are the major differences;

Imax Vs. Standard

Before jumping into details, I would like to sum up the difference here. Imax and Standard are the two theater formats.

Imax is the superior of the two options. It has larger screens, high-resolution video quality, and more powerful sound.

The standard movie theater, as you can judge by the name, uses a standard screen, and acceptable audio and video quality to entertain us.

Now that the major differences are summed up, let’s go into a little detail;


Frankly, there would not be much difference in the environment of the Standard movie theater and Imax. However, Imax would be brighter and appear a bit more luxurious than the Standard movie theater.

Like the other luxurious option(4dx) there would not be any artificial scent, moving seats, or elemental effects. Besides the screens, speakers, and a few little things, the environment of these two movie theaters would be more or less the same.

Screen size and type

imax vs standard screen

Imax is recognized and praised for two things; its largest screens and powerful sound. However, Standard movie theaters do not have such luxuries.

The Imax screens are usually as tall and wide as the whole wall. These screens are about 6 times larger and wider than the Standard movie theaters.

As expected, Imax and Standard movie theaters do not use the same type of screens to entertain visitors.

The Imax uses a dome circular screen whereas the traditional one has a plain regular screen.

Image quality

The image and the sound quality make the Imax a better option than a Standard movie theater.

Imax delivers top-notch video quality whereas the Standard theaters have limited pixel resolution.

To be more specific, the superior option is 15 perforation, Imax 4k with laser, and Imax 2K Digital give Imax’s picture quality a boost. However, the Standard movie theater only has a standard-sized rectangular screen with a square view as a reward.

Some people still prefer Standard over Imax, however, a majority of people do not like a rectangular screen with a square view.

Sound quality

The sound quality of the Imax theaters is also worth-praising. The Imax’s speaker system is manufactured and installed by special sound engineers/audio engineers.

Therefore, these Imax-patented fully immersive 12.1 channel 15,000-watt digital speakers take the lead as they produce powerful output in addition to crystal clear quality sound.

Standard movie theaters, on the other hand, have satisfactory sound. It is loud enough to be heard in each corner of the movie theater but sadly not as impressive as Imax’s sound.

Film Formats

The Standard movie theaters are usually either 35mm or 70mm. Imax’s film format is 15/70mm.

15/70mm means that the film size is 10 times bigger than the Standard movie theater and each frame is 15 perforations wide and 70mm high.

Therefore, we conclude that Imax provides more visual clarity than the Standard movie theater.

Projection techniques

Imax is way more advanced than the standard movie theaters.

The standard movie theaters still use traditional ways to do the job.

Imax, however, has a high-powered laser light engine and twin 4k proprietary digital projectors to not just light up the screen but also to project the sharpest, clearest, vivid, and brightest images.


I have been to regular and Imax theaters many times. The major difference I noticed is that the imagery in Imax is far more detailed than in the Standard movie theaters.

The Imax’s shorts are impressively descriptive and longer as compared to the Standard movie theater. It is because the director does not control what the audience would look at.


Imax is powered by various advanced technologies like IMAX cameras, laser projection, GT 3D, small rotor, Grand Theater, and MPX.

The Standard movie theater still uses traditional cameras, television, PCs, and screens.


Though, Imax has not focused much on the seating. Therefore, there isn’t much difference between the Imax and the Standard movie theater seats.

Most people have complained that the seats are tiny and a bit uncomfortable. Frankly, I also think Imax needs to shift the focus to seating as well.


4dx is less common, the Imax and Standard formats are both readily available. If we compare the two options, Standard beats Imax as it can be accessed even on your home PCs and TV.

Worth factor

If we try to judge the Standard and the Imax movie theater format by the worth factor, all I have to say is Imax is full and worthy whereas, the Standard movie theater is good entertainment.


It might already have become obvious, the better the service the more the price.

Since Imax has a better environment, video, and audio quality, therefore it is expensive. The Standard movie theater is affordable for a variety of reasons.


So, Imax or Standard?

If I have to pick one from the two options I would prefer to go for an Imax movie theater format. No doubt, Imax is expensive but it is “totally” worth it. However, if you have budget issues Standard is also not a bad idea.

Read also: What Kind of Projectors Do Movie Theaters Use?

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