Dolby, 70 Millimeter or Imax? Our Critic Helps You Choose

“It’s not as simple as when it was 35 millimeter or 70 millimeter,” said Gregg Paliotta, owner of Digital Media Systems, which sets up theaters and studio-run premieres.

Here is a guide to help you figure out which extras really matter, and which are just a ploy to get you to spend more.

Dolby Cinema

WHAT IS IT? Dolby began to open these premium auditoriums in AMC Theaters in the United States in 2015. They offer Dolby Vision, which means laser projection with improved color and contrast and brighter 3-D; and Dolby Atmos audio, which can accommodate up to 128 simultaneous sounds.


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WHERE IS IT? At 77 AMC theaters nationwide, including the AMC Empire 25 in New York, with more to come.

WHY YOU MIGHT WANT IT “It actually, to me, is the best-looking digital there is out there right now,” said Chapin Cutler, a founder of Boston Light & Sound, the company overseeing the 70-millimeter presentations of “Dunkirk.”

WHY YOU MIGHT AVOID IT You hate paired seats, part of the Dolby Cinema layout. Or maybe I was just self-conscious about seeing “Fifty Shades Darker” alone at 11 a.m. on a Saturday.

THIS SUMMER Only films optimized for Dolby Cinema, like “Atomic Blonde” and “The Dark Tower,” will show under that banner. “Detroit,” despite a complex sound mix, isn’t mastered for Dolby Atmos, so it won’t play in Dolby Cinemas.


WHAT IS IT? No, theaters haven’t cracked the fourth dimension. This is the latest effort to fuse moviegoing with amusement park rides. 4DX promises “motion chairs and environmental effects such as wind, bubbles, and scent.”

WHERE IS IT? Nine theaters nationwide, including Regal locations in Union Square and Times Square in New York.

WHY YOU MIGHT WANT IT It’s a clear advance over the last notable ride-movie technology, D-BOX, which felt a bit like watching a movie in a rogue massage chair. The seat movements in 4DX are impressively attuned to camera motion.

WHY YOU MIGHT AVOID IT Purists may balk, and the effects are distracting. Also, there’s a medical warning when you enter.

THIS SUMMER I could abide the rocking sensation during “War for the Planet of the Apes,” but being sprayed with water, air and some sort of musk odor (forest, ocean and explosions all smelled the same) was overkill.


WHAT IS IT? For 40 years, Imax meant a 70-millimeter film strip run…

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