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Survey Says Movie Viewers Want that IMAX Theatrical Experience at Home

With fewer people going to movie theaters, a survey suggests that movie lovers are prepared to spend a bit to bring the cinematic experience home.

IMAX Enhanced by IMAX dts Logo

If you’ve been to a movie theater lately, you may have noticed a certain lack of “butts in seats.” While blockbusters like “Dune Part 2” and “Inside Out 2” have brought some excitement (and much needed revenue) to movie theaters this year, most titles spend little time in theaters before making their way to home rental or a video streaming service.

Premium viewing experiences like Dolby Cinema and IMAX continue to do well, but overall cinema attendance is still way down compared to pre-pandemic numbers. And it’s not just movies: other in-person arts and cultural experiences like classical music concerts and museum attendance are also seeing historical lows. Some believe that the aversion to social gatherings instilled in many of us during the pandemic has had a lasting effect, and we haven’t gotten back into the habit of regularly going out to see a movie, and maybe never will.

But apparently not going out as much doesn’t mean movie lovers are content just to watch the latest film or series on a laptop or on a basic TV through the set’s built-in speakers. In fact, it looks like many folks are willing to pay a premium to experience movies and TV shows in a way that brings some of that theatrical experience home.

IMAX in Your Living Room

As our readers may know, the parent company to DTS, Xperi has been working in partnership with IMAX to capture and reproduce the IMAX theatrical experience at home through a program called, “IMAX Enhanced.” Under this program, TVs, projectors, soundbars, AV receivers and other audio and video gear is certified to meet high quality audio and video standards as well as reproduce the particular formats used for IMAX reproduction at home. Also, in the IMAX Enhanced program, movies are mastered for home use in high quality 4K resolution with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for optimum picture quality. These movies also feature the IMAX aspect ratio for maximum impact as well as a DTS:X immersive soundtrack that captures the IMAX theatrical sound.

Select “IMAX Enhanced” titles are available on UltraHD Blu-ray Disc and are also available on Sony’s exclusive “Sony Pictures Core” streaming service, which is available on Sony TVs and gaming consoles. In May, Disney+ joined the party, adding DTS:X/IMAX Enhanced soundtracks to 18 Marvel movies and the rock concert film “Queen Rock Montreal.” If you’ve got a compatible TV from Sony, Hisense or TCL, as well as a good surround sound system or soundbar that supports DTS:X, you’re in for a treat if you watch these IMAX Enhanced titles: stunning visuals, expanded aspect ratios and powerful dynamic soundtracks will amp up your home movie-watching experience. But will people pay a premium for the privilege?

20240517_153703-queen-dts-x-900px
The concert film “Queen Rock Montreal” was remastered in IMAX for a theatrical run earlier this year. It’s now available on Disney+ in IMAX Enhanced format with DTS:X immersive sound.

In May, 2024, Xperi, conducted a survey of 1,031 consumers in the United States, over the age of 18 asking about their movie-viewing habits at home and in theaters. More specifically, the firm asked participants whether they’d consider investing in better gear to enhance their viewing and listening experience. The results were pretty interesting.

IMAX Enhanced Study Results:

Overall, 53% of survey respondents feel that a theatrical-like sound experience is important when watching movies. Gen Z (63%) and Millennials (64%) indicate higher importance for sound compared with all respondents.

43% of all respondents are willing to spend more than $250 on audio equipment with IMAX Enhanced certification; on average, most people are comfortable spending between $100-$250 to enhance their home viewing experience. While $100-$250 isn’t going to go very far for audio gear, there are solid soundbar options for under $500 that can do both DTS:X and Dolby Atmos immersive sound at home (like Vizio’s M-Series 5.1.2-channel soundbar). Pioneer also offers an IMAX Enhanced A/V receiver (the VSX-835) for under $500.

Aside from movies, 56% of respondents are interested in seeing TV series in IMAX Enhanced and 53% are interested in seeing live sports/events in IMAX Enhanced. “House of the Dragon” and the Olympics in IMAX? Yes, please!

When it comes to the genres people are watching, audio quality is rated by respondents as most important for Action movies followed by Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Sports.

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Many respondents are more interested in watching a new movie at home versus in a theater. 40% of respondents report waiting until a movie comes out on a streaming service they already subscribe to, compared to 35% who will see it in a theater. We did get a bit spoiled during the pandemic when some major movies premiered at home on a streaming service the same day and date as theatrical release, but even now the wait from theatrical release to home video debut has shortened from months to weeks, or even days.

For those who prefer to stay home and see new movies, the reasons given are probably what you’d expect:

  • It costs a lot of money to go to the theater – 42% of respondents say it costs them more than $30 to go to the movies (in NYC, that $30 barely covers the cost of a single premium movie ticket, forget about the $12 popcorn!).
  • You cannot pause the movie in a theater (unless the projectionist is your friend)
  • It is a hassle to go out
  • There are better snacks at home

The Bottom Line

Xperi’s survey shows that many people who love movies are willing to invest in improving their movie-viewing and listening experience at home. While $250 isn’t going to go a long way to purchase decent audio gear, it is encouraging to see that people care about sound quality at home and are willing to spend a bit more for better sound.

How about you? Do you prefer watching movies in a theater or at home? And do you think investing in a good sound system for movies is worth the money? Let us know in the comments.

Related Reading:

WTF is IMAX Enhanced?

WTF is DTS:X?

Disney+ Adds DTS:X Sound to IMAX Enhanced Movies – Here’s How to Get It

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