Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spider-Man 4 to debut in IMAX on May 6th, 2011.

It's official: Spider-Man 4 will be converted to IMAX come summer 2011. While there is no word on whether Sam Raimi will be shooting any sequences using IMAX cameras and IMAX film (ala The Dark Knight, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), it has been confirmed that the film will debut in the IMAX 70mm format day-and-date with the 35mm version. What is worth noting is that the film will actually open on Thursday May 6th, 2011. Yes, it will actually kick off the 2011 summer season a day early, which also means that Sony has no interest in recapturing that three-day opening weekend record that Spider-Man ($114 million) and Spider-Man 3 ($151 million) broke over the same weekend in 2002 and 2007. It would seem that Sony and/or Marvel only want this record for odd-numbered Spider-Man films. The first sequel, Spider-Man 2, surely would have bested Spider-Man's $114 million opening had it opened over three days, rather than the six-day Fourth-of-July marathon run in 2004 (it pulled in $88.1 million over the Fri-Sun portion, and a then-record $180 million over the first six days).

While the Spidey sequel is the first major 'get' for IMAX in 2011, it will be interesting to see what movies are able to secure the valuable IMAX venues during what will already be an insanely crowded 2011 summer season. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince part 2 is all but guaranteed, assuming that the date-change on Half-Blood Prince didn't sour things too badly between Warner Bros and IMAX. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen got a decent boost from the IMAX venues, so it's a good bet that Paramount will at least want the first few weekends in the IMAX theaters. Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom will also likely jockey for space, since its initial chapter also debuted in the large-screen format. But it would seem from glancing over the already-announced 2010 IMAX slate (listed below - three releases just in March), that those controversial AMC retrofitted IMAX screens are finally paying off. In that IMAX has expanded enough that they will be able to finally have concurrent theatrical releases. As to which releases get the 100-foot IMAX screens (as opposed to just the retrofitted 30-footers) I cannot say, but I'd guess than the newest opener gets the biggest screen, just like any other theater.

For the record, the 2010 IMAX slate (all in 3D as well) consists of Alice In Wonderland (March 5th - Walt Disney), Hubble 3D (March 19th - Warner Bros.), How to Train Your Dragon (March 26 - Dreamworks), and Shrek Forever After (May 21st - Dreamworks). You'll notice that Iron Man 2 isn't listed there. Despite over a year of rumor and gossip, there remains no official word on whether Jon Favreau's sequel will end up debuting in IMAX format. At this point, since principal photography is long-complete, I'm guessing we can rule out any actual IMAX footage for the much-anticipated sequel (although Marvel is currently rumored to be attempting to convert the picture in 3D in post-production). Frankly, if any superhero franchise's trademark action would benefit from 3D effects, it would certainly be the swinging, jumping, and mid-air combat found in a Spider-Man picture.

Scott Mendelson

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