Last week Wednesday, 10 December, Ster-Kinekor launched the IMAX screen at CapeGate Mall in Brackenfell – the third such super-sized screen opened by the film distributor in the country, and the first time in more than a decade that the premium cinema format has returned to Cape Town – and I was in attendance to check it all out. I was of course joined by 5 lucky readers and their partners who had all won tickets through our recent competition.
The evening kicked off at a blue-lit, cosmopolitan and swanky little venue setup specifically by Ster-Kinekor in the lower levels of Cape Gate. There we were treated to some potent, hair-raising cocktails and platters of delicious food (Hmm… that burger!), as we rubbed elbows with a number of press, Ster-Kinekor representatives and some local TV/radio personalities.
But good grub and hobnobbing with some celebs isn’t the main reason why we were there, and soon the 250-strong group were ushered back upstairs and into the newly established IMAX 3D cinema, furnished with comfy chair, glowing IMAX logos and one giant wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling curved screen, flanked by powerful speakers of the size you would normally find at a Metallica concert.
Once we were settled in with our complimentary popcorn and coke (and done playing “Pass the Single Shaker of Butter Salt, Please!”), our bubbly MC for the evening Leigh-Anne Williams of SABC 3’s Espresso and Good Hope FM fame welcomed all in attendance as well as Doug Place, Marketing Executive of Ster-Kinekor Theatres, and Giovanni Dolci, Vice President of Theatre Development EMEA for IMAX. The two men welcomed the guests to the venue and gave a run-down of what makes IMAX so special, explaining it was more than just “a really big screen”. The cinema boasts a duo of really high-res, crystal clear 3D projectors, and that incredible visual fidelity combined with the aforementioned vertebrae rattling sound system and incredibly screen – which is mounted closer to the audience than you would find in a conventional cinema so that it completely fills up your peripheral vision – results in an experience that makes you feel as if you’re in a movie, rather than just watching it.
Other than impressive technical specs, Dolci also revealed that after the success of the initial screens at Durban’s Gateway and Pretoria’s The Grove Mall and this new launch at CapeGate, a fourth IMAX cinema is already being planned for Johannesburg’s newly revamped East Gate Mall in the first half of 2015.
“It is wonderful to be back in South Africa again, and so soon after the launches of both Gateway and The Grove. We are impressed with the success of the first two sites and look forward to this new theatre achieving equally positive results.
“We entered into the initial partnership with Ster-Kinekor last year with the belief that it would not only raise our visibility in South Africa, but also set the stage for mutual growth opportunities in the region. It is encouraging to see that this is already bearing fruit, with the CapeGate site opening just six months after The Grove. South Africa was one of a number of new markets that we entered in 2013, and it is clear there is a growing appetite for IMAX here. We look forward to working with Ster-Kinekor to further entrench the IMAX brand locally.”
When that first IMAX screen opened at Gateway in Durban a year ago, the film that launched it was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, so it was only fitting that this launch at Cape Gate saw the local premiere of the final entrant in the franchise, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, especially since the film is the only major release to make use of the HFR (High Frame Rate) technology.
I mentioned this in my full review of the movie last week, but I have reiterate it again: The combination of IMAX’s high-res digital projection and HFR produces what is without a doubt the crispest, most detailed image I have ever seen in a scene. It really doesn’t feel like you’re watching a movie, but rather you’re standing on the set watching the real actors do their thing. That level of impressive visuals coupled with a fully-immersive aural experience that – to paraphrase Dolci – you can feel rather than just hear, and it really does deliver on IMAX’s claims that it “makes audiences feel as if they are in the film.”
Judging by the excited round of applause and cheerful buzz in the cinema that greeted the end of the movie, it’s quite clear that several people really had got swept into the film, thanks to the incredibly immersive experience offered by IMAX 3D. That experience of course doesn’t stop there, as the next few weeks sees Exodus: Gods and Kings (26 December 2014), Seventh Son (9 January 2014) and Taken 3 (16 January 2015) all being released. Looking further into 2015, movie fans can also look forward to Fast & Furious 7 (3 April 2015), Avengers: Age of Ultron (1 May 2015) and finally Star Wars: The Force Awakens (18 December 2015), among others.
Ster-Kinekor really impressed with the venue and we will definitely be there on opening night for all of those blockbusters, and hopefully we’ll see you guys there as well.
Last Updated: December 15, 2014