“There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it?”
Nearly one year ago, those words kicked off the insurmountable hype juggernaut that is Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now, with the nationwide premiere soon upon us, the journey is almost complete. Millions of fans have bought tickets to see the film on opening day (December 17), many opting for the IMAX 3D screening experience. It makes sense—unlike most features that can be seen in IMAX, J.J. Abrams shot portions of the new Star Wars with IMAX film cameras. But when those first ubiquitous notes of John William’s arrangement blast through the darkness of space just after 7 p.m. that night, most of those fans won’t truly experience the majesty of a 70mm IMAX film print. In fact, there are currently only 15 screens in the entire world where you’ll be able to see The Force Awakens exactly as it was shot, in the highest possible quality. Don’t worry—though many Bothans died to bring us this information—one of them is at the Indiana State Museum.
The reason the State Museum’s showing is different from one at, say, Carmel’s Village Park 17 is because not all IMAX screens are created equal. With the exception of the State Museum, every IMAX theater in Indiana projects digital, not film. Movie buffs tend to call these screens “Lie-Max” because the image quality is lower in digital showings, and the actual screen size isn’t much bigger than a non-IMAX theater. The image resolution you’ll see in one of those IMAX theaters is slightly higher-quality than a non-IMAX showing, but not nearly as detailed as the piece of 70mm film the State Museum will screen.
No digital system today can fully replicate the beauty and detail of 70mm, or even 35mm, film. Unfortunately, digital screens are pretty much the norm all over the country. So if you really want to feel like a kid again for The Force Awakens, the best choice is to check out State Museum’s print and watch the film the same way J.J. Abrams made it. The only other nearby 70mm screening is four hours away in St. Louis, so don’t be surprised if fans from Chicago or Louisville join you in the audience. Want tickets? May the force be with you.