Last week, Regal Cinemas announced that the chain will double the number of IMAX theaters that it runs nationwide, adding another 31 large-format screens by 2010. That will bring the total of IMAX screens in Regal theaters to 52.
Rolling Stones in Martin Scorsese's  Shine the LightThe IMAX format is mostly known for its sometimes cheesy fare, space and oceanic adventures, and blockbuster entertainments (The Matrix, Spider-Man 3, Star Wars Episode III, etc. have made it to the super-big screens). But the news prompted me to imagine whether there might be a chance for some strong, narrative documentaries ending up on IMAX. It’s cool that concert docs such as U2:3D and Martin Scorsese‘s upcoming film about the Rolling Stones, Shine a Light, are making it to IMAX, but wouldn’t it have been incredible to see last year’s In the Shadow of the Moon, about the Apollo space missions to the moon or Deep Water, the story of a doomed sea adventure, on an IMAX screen? For that matter, what about Grizzly Man, Touching the Void, Manda Bala or Into Great Silence? The list goes on —War/Dance, Tupac: Resurrection, Manufactured Landscapes… How cool would it be to see an Errol Morris documentary in this format?

I know, I know — this is pie-in-the-sky thinking. Most of these films probably couldn’t be properly transferred, and if they could, they probably woudn’t be able to get the box office numbers that would justify the exhibitor expense. Still, there are plenty of individuals out there who have money to burn and a lot of faith in the power of docs (Jeff Skoll, can you hear me?). And there are plenty of IMAX theaters associated with educational institutions, so perhaps one could be prompted to give it a try.

It reminds of the first time I saw Koyanisqaatsi; it was actually at the Beacon Theater in New York City, on a giant screen. Phillip Glass performed the score — live — and I can still feel the walls shaking. It was truly a religious experience. In fact, that’s the first documentary I’d love to see transferred to IMAX. Godfrey Reggio‘s phenomenal portrait of the dangerous imbalance between humanity and nature on our planet would be incredible on the big, big screen. Any billionaire backers out there?

Published by

Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He is a former Premiere magazine senior editor, who graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom's freelance work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter and other publications. He has written several Kindle Singles, including the bestselling Kindle Singles Interview: Ken Burns. Tom's current list of favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi by Godfrey Reggio; 2. Hoop Dreams by Steve James; 3.Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley; 4.Crumb by Terry Zwigoff; 5. Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen