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New Berlin, WI: Our ScreenX Experience at Marcus Ridge Cinemas, Wisconsin's First ScreenX Installation

Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 7:26 PM

Photo of ScreenX in action

The first ScreenX installation in Wisconsin is now at the Marcus Ridge Cinemas in New Berlin, Wisconsin. Representatives from Marcus Theatres Corp. and CJ 4DPLEX presented the new technology Monday during a press event we attended.

ScreenX uses multiple projectors to display a 270 degree panoramic image which covers the sidewalls of the auditorium as well as the primary screen in front of you. The result is an immersive experience that can be very impressive.

The ScreenX installation is in auditorium #4, which is on the north end of the theater building and is marked as seating 114 people, but Marcus states that it now has 108 recliners and four wheelchair spaces. The typical side surround speakers on the wall are replaced with speakers that resemble sound bars mounted at the corner of the wall and ceiling. As you can see in the photos below, ScreenX signage is proudly displayed on the building and in the lobby, and additional signage at the end of the hallway and in front of the auditorium makes it very clear where the format can be enjoyed.

Theater photos

Surrounding moviegoers with visuals isn't a new concept. Widescreen movies have attempted to impress moviegoers with wider screens, Cinerama in the 1950s and 1960s used three film projectors to fill a curved screen that covered 146 degrees of your vision, and "Barco Escape" in 2014 flanked the main screen with an additional screen on each side.

Instead of using a very wide screen or additional screens, ScreenX uses the sidewalls of the auditorium as the screens, which is what creates the advertised 270 degree image. This creates a very immersive experience, but one that is very different from Cinerama.

That's OK, though, as the intent is to supplement the primary image, not just to make a much wider image. Whereas How the West Was Won in Cinerama actually used all of the available real estate to tell the story, ScreenX only supplements the main image, with portions of the movie expanded with ScreenX content. This is much like the switchable aspect ratio used in many recent IMAX movies.

Duncan MacDonald of CJ 4DPLEX told me that the intent of ScreenX is not to distract from the content on the screen, but rather to add to it. The content is presented in such a way that your focus is always on the main screen, but your peripheral vision is being treated to supplementary images that support what is on the main screen.

ScreenX Demonstrated

During the presentation, clips from recent ScreenX enhanced movies were shown. It started with Top Gun: Maverick which was impressive and the aerial action sequences were enhanced by the additional visual content. I was reminded of why the movie was the hit of 2022 and seeing this clip made me want to see the full movie in the format. The clip from Avatar: The Way of Water placed viewers into the fantastical underwater world of Pandora. Just as James Cameron's excellent 3D work with the Avatar movies enhanced the viewing experience, ScreenX offers a different way to enjoy the movie.

An action fight sequence from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 had a video game feel, where the fast cuts between the various fights happening at once nearly made me dizzy because of the amount of activity going on. The highlight of the series of clips was the Live Aid concert from Bohemian Rhapsody, where the size of the crowd in Wembley Stadium is juxtaposed with the viewpoint of a camera on stage with Freddie Mercury and the other members of Queen during their historic performance in 1985. Rather than only widen the view with the ScreenX content, there were times when the sidewalls showed a different perspective, such as panning the crowd during a quick cut on-screen. This made you feel as though you were there, but also that you had the best seat in the house. This left a big impression on me and others in the audience!

Rounding out the presentation was a trailer for the upcoming movie, The Creator, which will be released in the ScreenX auditorium at Marcus Ridge September 29, 2023. Based on what was shown in the trailer, I think the enhancements will serve the movie well, and I would be interested in checking out the ScreenX presentation. Afterward, we were treated to a full presentation of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One. The ScreenX content came and went for various scenes, and it was no more distracting or jarring than the aforementioned aspect ratio changes popular in many IMAX releases. The movie was robbed of the chance to make an impression by the Barbenheimer juggernaut, so if you have a chance to see this movie, especially in ScreenX, you should!

After all, that's what all this is about. Making the moviegoing experience something special by presenting a large image with amazing sound while sitting in comfortable seats and enjoying delicious snacks and food items. Attracting audiences is why movie theaters exist, and anything that improves that experience is worth checking out!

What's Playing in ScreenX?

Marcus Ridge has already been playing movies in the ScreenX format for a few weeks. It is currently playing The Nun II, and it was previously showing Gran Turismo, which probably would have been fun to watch in the format. Tickets are a little more expensive for the ScreenX presentation than even in the SuperScreen Premium Large Format screen which has a wider screen and a Dolby Atmos sound system.

You'll want to check out our Showtimes page for the Marcus Ridge to see which shows are in which auditorium/format, and then make your viewing choice based on the time, format, and price of each.

Marcus representatives did not mention if more ScreenX installations were on the way. My impression was that they are waiting to see how audiences react to the first one and then judge which locations they would want to be their next ScreenX offering. While I would not want to see every movie in ScreenX, and that I would probably prioritize watching a movie with a wider screen and an Atmos sound system (both of which can be experienced in the company's SuperScreen and UltraScreen auditoriums), I can envision watching The Creator in the SuperScreen first, and then coming back to see it again in ScreenX. I'm sure that Marcus would not mind the additional visits if everyone did the same!

To see what theaters are playing which movies in ScreenX, head over to our Advanced Search tool for Movies Playing in ScreenX.

Photo above: Example of a clip from Avatar: The Way of Water in ScreenX

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