While IMAX Enhanced was first announced at CEDIA 2018, unquestionably CES 2019 represented the true debut of the initiative to bring the IMAX cinematic experience home.
During the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, IMAX Corporation announced a slew of new partners that have joined the IMAX Enhanced program. The new additions include streaming partners, hardware partners and movie studios.
The announcement of movie titles from Sony Home Pictures Entertainment and Paramount Pictures ranks us some of the most exciting news, since availability of content is key to the success of any initiative like this.
On the streaming side, this new group of partners includes FandangoNOW (U.S.), Tencent Video (China) and Rakuten TV (Europe). And on the hardware front there are right new companies joining IMAX Enhanced: Arcam, Elite, Integra, Lexicon, Onkyo, Pioneer, TCL and Trinnov.
“We are pleased to announce the growth of the IMAX Enhanced ecosystem with leading studios, streaming services, and device partners who share our vision of raising the bar for home entertainment by delivering the highest quality content to premium devices,” said Xperi EVP and Chief Products and Services Officer, Geir Skaaden. (DTS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi).
Of course, there is a connection between the streaming announcements and the studio announcements. IMAX Enhanced will not just be disc based, you will be able to stream titles as well. And regardless of whether you stream or play a Ultra HD Blu-ray, there are 15 confirmed launch titles on the way including Venom and Alpha.
The eight new hardware partners join Sony Electronics plus Sound United brands Denon and Marantz, bringing the total to 11. You can expect to see AV receivers or processors from Arcam, Elite, Integra, Lexicon, Onkyo, Pioneer and Trinnov. And in 2019, TCL will join Sony Electronics in offering IMAX Enhanced-certified televisions.
During my visit to CES 2019, I had a chance to see and hear clips from IMAX Enhanced movies including Jumanji and Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s show conditions, so I’ll wait until I get to see and hear these titles at home before drilling down on the viewing experience. Having said that, the demo given by Sound United at The Venetian, which leveraged Denon and Definitive Technology gear, sounded excellent and the Sony VPL-VW885ES projector looked good with IMAX Enhanced content as the source material. The main point is that IMAX Enhanced is not just about nature documentaries; major Hollywood blockbusters are also on the way and they both look and sound great.
“We’re encouraged by the significant momentum and high-caliber partners that are embracing the IMAX Enhanced program in just the first few months of its launch,” said IMAX CFO and Head of Corporate Strategy & Development Patrick McClymont. “These premium partners and the blockbuster titles announced today extend our product and content offering and advance our efforts to deliver the best at-home entertainment experiences to more consumers around the world.”
The key thing to understand with IMAX Enhanced is that is open. You can get started with experiencing it by simply obtaining the content. Some features are universal in nature, meaning you’ll experience the effects of the mastering process that maximizes picture quality. But for the full effect, you will want IMAX Enhanced gear to your system so that you get an at home rendition of how IMAX masters the sound and visuals for its director-approved theatrical presentations. Truly, the idea here is to bring the movie theater experience into your home.