IMAX Theater

Fact Sheet / December 15, 2020


  • Located in Exposition Park, Los Angeles, part of the new complex that comprises the California Science Center. It is the first nonprofit educational theater with 3D capability built on the West Coast.
  • The $8 million IMAX Theater, designed by the award-winning Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership, opened as part of the new California Science Center in February 7, 1998. It features movies in the classic 2D (two dimensional) and IMAX 3D format.
  • The projected annual attendance for the new 24,200-square-foot theater is approximately 700,000. School and youth groups are expected to account for 25 percent or 175,000 of that total.
  • Boasts a 7-story high by 90-feet wide screen ­ 2 stories higher and 20 feet wider than its predecessor.
  • Seats 480 people. Steeply-pitched stadium seating allows everyone to have full view of the screen.
  • For 3D performances, audiences wear polarized, lightweight glasses with large lenses, providing extra wide viewing of the screen. The glasses, combined with the giant screen, bring images closer to the audience than any other 3D format developed to date.
  • Offers hearing assistance system for the hearing impaired. Visitors have the movie’s narration amplified by wearing wireless headsets connected to pocket transmitters.
  • Features a full-service concession stand with items such as popcorn, beverages, and ice cream.
  • Revenue generated by the theater funds continuing educational programs and operations of the California Science Center. Admission to the California Science Center exhibit halls is free.
  • The previous IMAX Theater, built and operated by the California Museum of Science and Industry, has helped educate and entertain over 5,000,000 visitors since its opening in 1984.

Facts About IMAX Technology:

  • IMAX, or maximum image, uses the largest film frame in the motion picture industry—10 times larger than Hollywood’s standard 35-mm film format and three times bigger than the standard 70-mm frame. The larger film frame creates images of unsurpassed clarity and impact.
  • The size of the IMAX film is so large that one 40-minute film is approximately 3 miles long.
  • The screen is painted by a robot to ensure an even coating of highly reflective paint. There are also thousands of tiny holes spaced evenly around the screen to permit the sound to travel directly toward the audience.
  • The theater’s six-channel-digital sound system is designed in a surround sound pattern so that every moviegoer can hear even the smallest sound effect. A network of 44 speakers bathes every seat in 12,000 watts of sound.
  • Designed to make viewers a part of the action, IMAX movie screens extend beyond the peripheral vision so that filmgoers have full views of images. The razor-sharp images and six-channel-digital surround sound system also help immerse the viewer in the films.
  • The specially designed IMAX camera photographs the largest frame ever used in motion pictures on horizontally moving 65-mm film. Because of the increased information carrying capacity of the huge frame, the camera records images with much greater detail than does any other motion picture camera.
  • The IMAX motion picture system was invented and developed by Toronto-based Imax Corporation.

The 3D Projectors:

  • The key to the IMAX projection system’s performance, reliability, extraordinary sharpness and clarity is the sheer size of the screen, combined with the unique "rolling loop" film movement, which advances the film horizontally in a smooth, wave-like motion. During projection, each film frame is positioned on fixed registration pins, while the film is held firmly against the back of the lens by a vacuum. As a result, the picture and focus steadiness exceed normal standards.
  • The 3D projector—the size of a small car—alternately projects the left- and right-eye images onto the giant screen.
  • The 1.5-kilowatt Xenon projector lamp is bright enough that if located on the moon and facing Earth, it would easily be visible to the unaided eye.
  • The film runs through the projector at 24 frames per second. The shutters on the projector alternate left and right images 96 times per second.
  • 3D technology is based on human vision: it mimics the way we see the real world. When you look at an object, each of your eyes sees a slightly different view of that object. Through a process called stereopsis, the brain "fuses" the two images into a single 3D image.