STERLING HEIGHTS, MI-A local 30-screen cinema will be the first non-museum location in Metro Detroit to sport an IMAX theater. The IMAX will open at the AMC Forum 30, on Mound Road just south of M-59, by mid-June. The likely first movie: “Batman Begins” or “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

IMAX, a format traditionally used for sweeping documentaries at museums, is making a rapid push into for-profit multiplexes, converting some of the most popular Hollywood films so they can be shown on its enormous screens. The Sterling Heights theater is one of five AMC locations having an IMAX screen installed this year.

“Our strategy is to provide a unique way of seeing blockbuster films,” says Richard Gelfond, co-CEO of Toronto-based IMAX. “So when people wake up in the morning and say, ‘I want to see “Harry Potter” or “The Matrix,”‘ they say, ‘Let’s go see it at the IMAXtheater,’ and they’ll be willing to pay a little more for it.”

Ticket prices will be set by AMC, but Gelfond says IMAX showings generally cost about 30% more than other movies. That would bring the price of an adult ticket in Sterling Heights from $9 to about $12. The Sterling Heights AMC will have Metro Detroit’s third IMAX screen, after the Henry Ford in Dearborn and the New Detroit Science enter.

IMAX screens also are found at Celebration! Cinema theaters in Grand Rapids and Lansing. Of those locations, only the science center does not show Hollywood films. The AMC Forum 30 will be Michigan’s first theater to use a system IMAX introduced last year especially for multiplex theaters. The auditorium will not be expanded, but the larger screen will be much closer to the audience, making viewers feel surrounded by the picture.

The theater also will have a 12,000-watt digital sound system and a special projection system with film frames 10 times larger than standard 35 mm film for an ultra-clear picture. Some films will be shown in 3-D. Detroit was the second city in the country to get an IMAX theater. The New Detroit Science Center’s IMAX screen was built in 1978 and differs from the state’s other giant screens in that it’s a planetarium-like dome.

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