Story By: Angel Bocanegra
Despite a fresh coat of paint, Pacific Theatres Winnetka 21 in Chatsworth seems old from the outside. Inside, employees smile and sell outrageously-priced tickets and popcorn, which beckons customers with its freshly-popped, buttery smell.
Walking down the aisles of the theater, the smell of leather from the seats lingers in the air. But the real showstopper is the 79-foot tall screen, which is waiting to whisk guests away from the reality of their lives and into a world of fantasy — thanks to Extreme Movie Experience (XME).
The XME has an at-home feel, with the new leather seats that are stylish, comfortable and spacious; they are about the size of one and half of the regular seats, so those who are a little large fit without ending up banging elbows with the person next to them.
“With such a nice theater, might as well add nice comfortable seats for the guest,” said Nora Delgado, point person accountable of the theater.
Movie technology started with light shining through a frame. Then, motion was added. A recent significant change came in 2005, when digital projectors were introduced to cinemas. Now there’s digital, High Frame Rate, Image Maximum (IMAX) and the 4DX, which will soon debut in Los Angeles.
But, until 4DX comes, the San Fernando Valley can settle for XME at Pacific Theatres Winnetka 21.
An XME theater is with Dolby Meyer Sound experience and twin projectors that share the same technology as Star Tours at Disneyland. It brings a new meaning to movie-going.
The 3D is more pronounced due to each lens of the glasses connecting to its own projector and causing a deeper dimension for 3D, according to Steve Westberg, head charge of all projectors for Pacific Theatres and ArcLight Cinemas.
Some wonder if the price is worth the experience, but others come away in awe.
“The 3D was amazing,” said University of California Riverside student Henry Marshall, who watched “Gravity” in 3D with a couple of friends. “The huge screen made me feel as if I was in space.”
The fuller and better sound quality does come at a price; at the Pacific Theatres Winnetka, it will be an extra $3.50 for the XME theater for a 2D film or a 3D film in a normal theater, and $5 for XME in 3D.
So, what’s the difference between IMAX — something familiar that is seen and heard on TV, radio commercials and posters — and XME?
“There’s no difference. The difference is in the set up of the projector,” Westberg said.
An IMAX projector requires two stories where the 80-millimeter-wide film bounces and uses gravity to reach the top of the projector, while the XME theater is in complete digital. IMAX is also a brand that has exclusively partners with AMC Theaters and Regal Cinemas.
IMAX also has the upper hand when it comes to using the large screens to full capacity because most IMAX films are filmed with special IMAX cameras. Additionally, XME theaters cannot use the full 79-foot screen, and adaptions to compensate can be costly.
“The current lens limits the screen area utilized. Each lens to correct this costs $25,000,” Westberg said.
Those seeking even more of a thrill will have to wait for the new 4DX theaters coming soon.
CJ4DX is a new Korean technology company that has brought the 4D experiences from Universal Studios and Disneyland short five to ten minute experiences to feature-length films.
“The system is designed to put audiences into a film’s environment with motion, wind, fog, lighting and scent-based effects,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Carolyn Giardina said.
In her article, “CinemaCon: 4DX Targeting U.S. Market,” she goes further in detail about plans to expand theaters in Los Angeles and Miami, and how the cost is going to be roughly $8 more than the cost of the average ticket price.