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Wauwatosa, WI: AMC Mayfair Mall 18's IMAX Opens Early -- Does It Compete with the UltraScreens?

Posted on Monday, October 19th, 2009 11:10 AM and updated on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 10:00 AM

Back in August, we reported that the AMC Mayfair Mall 18 in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin was getting an IMAX screen, with a scheduled release date of November 6, 2009 for the opening of Disney's A Christmas Carol: An IMAX 3D Experience. The conversion must have gone well, since the new IMAX screen opened for business this weekend!

One of the primary questions I raised about this new installation was how it was going to measure up to traditional IMAX screens as well as the UltraScreens located nearby in Marcus Majestic Brookfield in Waukesha and the Marcus North Shore Cinemas in Mequon. Since there are no traditional IMAX screens within an hour of Milwaukee, the comparison to the UltraScreens are the primary concern for moviegoers considering their options.

Duane Dudek of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had the chance to get some details on the new screen, and states that it measures 50 feet wide by 26 1/2 feet high (1325 sq. ft). To compare, the UltraScreens at Marcus Majestic measure 72' by 31' (2232 sq. ft), which amounts to a difference of 907 sq. ft. That means that the AMC Mayfair Mall 18's IMAX screen is almost 41% smaller than the Marcus UltraScreen.

Entrance to UltraScreen 1 at the Marcus Majestic Cinema in Brookfield, WI. Photo copyright 2007 SVJ Designs, LLC. All Rights Reserved.These screens have different aspect ratios (1.89:1 at Mayfair, 2.35:1 at Majestic), which can account for some of the difference. However, the UltraScreen is still 4.5 feet taller, so any image that Mayfair's IMAX screen can put up, the UltraScreen can do it bigger.

Of course, the picture is just part of the equation. IMAX is quick to tell people that IMAX isn't just about a big picture (probably because the picture isn't all that big anymore), but also a great sound experience as well. Time will tell how the IMAX at Mayfair Mall compares to other theaters, including Mayfair's own THX screens (#8, #9, #17, #18) and Marcus' UltraScreens.

The final comparison, and the easiest one to make, is the cost increase of seeing a movie in a traditional theater and seeing it in the UltraScreen or IMAX. Using today's prices advertised on publicly-available resources for the Majestic, North Shore, and Mayfair Mall, we get the following:

TheaterAdult EveningAdult Evening
Marcus North Shore Cinemas $9.50 $10.50
Marcus Majestic Brookfield $10.00 $11.00
AMC Mayfair Mall 18 $9.50 $13.50

While seeing a movie at the AMC Mayfair Mall 18 is actually $0.50 cheaper than the Majestic in their regular theaters, seeing a movie in the IMAX screen is going to cost you $2.50 more than going to the UltraScreen at the Majestic. The Marcus North Shore Cinema widens that gap to a full $3.00.

I think AMC missed an opportunity here to provide some real competition to Marcus. Perhaps the screen size was limited by the auditorium that was converted, and a larger screen wasn't possible?

The true test, of course, is the actual movie-going experience. We hope to make a visit soon, but with our Journal Comments and Theater Comments features, you can be heard as well! If you've attended the IMAX at AMC Mayfair Mall 18, let others know what you think!

Please add your comments below if you want to comment on the difference between the IMAX and UltraScreen experiences, and leave a comment on the Reader Comments page for AMC Mayfair Mall 18 and recount your experience at that theater.

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Please Note: These comments are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

Oct 20, 2009 - Ron Higgins VIP Member

According to THX.com, Mayfair still has THX certification on several screens:
AMC Mayfair Mall
Mayfair Mall
2500 N. Mayfair Rd.
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
Screens: Premium 1, Premium 2, 8, 9 

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