Polar Express Rolls Over IMAX Records

While it may be off to a fairly slow start at megaplexes, Sony’s CG-animated holiday pic, The Polar Express, is making record time at IMAX theaters, where it’s being presented in 3D. The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience earned $3 million in 59 North American IMAX theatres since Wednesday, which is the biggest opening for a film released simultaneously in 35mm and IMAX formats.

The Polar Express is the first-ever Hollywood feature to be converted to IMAX 3D. The novelty has paid off with strong advance sales and sold-out shows at many venues. In fact, The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre in Dearborn, Michigan reported that all 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. weekday shows through to the holiday season have already sold out, largely due to school field trips. In addition, a number of new IMAX theatres opened just in time for the film’s Nov. 10 release.

Gimmick may be selling tickets, but according to IMAX co-chairmen and co-CEOs Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler, the movie is delivering the goods. They comment, “Based on preliminary research conducted at select IMAX theatres nationwide, audiences are reporting an incredible 96% satisfaction rate and an equally impressive 93% intent to recommend response, which are the most positive results we’ve received for an IMAX digitally re-mastered film to date. This is translating into strong box office results and strong word of mouth, which bodes well for the legs of the film.”

The conventional 2D, computer-generated pic has been converted into stereoscopic 3D and then digitally blown up to 10 times the size of 35mm film by way of IMAX DMR technology. Special IMAX 3D glasses help bring depth to the images, creating an immersive experience when combined with more than 12,000 watts of digital surround sound.

The Polar Express is the latest collaboration between the Academy Award-winning team of Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Cast Away). The holiday adventure is based on the classic Caldecott Medal-winning children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. Go behind the scenes of this one-of-a-kind production in the upcoming January issue of Animation Magazine.