John Beifuss, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
Malco has begun construction on an IMAX theater at its flagship East Memphis multiplex, the Paradiso.
The 300-seat auditorium is expected to be ready in time for the Dec. 15 opening of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which includes scenes shot in the IMAX format.
Malco officials would not comment on the construction, but said an announcement concerning the auditorium was scheduled to be released Tuesday.
The theater would be Memphis’ first IMAX auditorium dedicated to major studio and Hollywood films, filling a gap that for years has frustrated local movie fans who had to travel as far as Little Rock or Nashville to see “The Dark Knight” or “Dunkirk” in IMAX.
The defunct Muvico Peabody Place 22 downtown had a giant-screen theater that was not part of the IMAX franchise, while the first-run features screened at the Memphis Pink Palace Museum’s CTI 3D Giant Theater — formerly an IMAX theater — always have been related to nature and science.
Described as “the gold standard” in film exhibition by “Dunkirk” director Christopher Nolan, IMAX uses what the company describes as “state-of-the-art, proprietary technology” to create an “immersive” filmgoing experience that features crystalline sound design and supersized screens that can display images of greater size and clarity than in conventional auditoriums.
Malco officials also hope an IMAX theater will encourage lapsed moviegoers to return to the cinema, following an overall dud of a summer in which total box office receipts in the U.S. and Canada totaled $3.8 billion, a decline of 14.6 percent from last summer and the lowest total since 2006.
On the other hand, this past weekend’s No. 1 movie, “It,” demonstrated that a movie about a killer sewer clown can sell $117 million worth off tickets in three days and set numerous box-office records in the process. So when people really want to see a movie, whatever the format, they go.