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Portage 16 IMAX Continues to Improve Viewing Experience as Technology Advances

The Goodrich Theaters Portage 16 IMAX just celebrated its 10-year anniversary at the beginning of this New Year. In the 10 years since the theater opened, technology throughout the world has changed - and so have movie theatre projectors.

“We have 16 screens, one of which is an IMAX. We used to use the old platter system with film rolls, but now everything is switched over to a more compact digital system to project the films,” stated Kevin Morgan, Manager of the Portage 16 IMAX.

The theatres in the Portage 16 IMAX vary in size to accommodate small audiences to very large audiences. The IMAX theatre has a screen that is 45 feet tall and 75 feet wide, and seats a total of 450 people. The IMAX theatre has a truer 3D projector system, but the Portage 16 also has 3 additional theatres that can provide RealD 3D movies.

“The IMAX projector is a truer 3D system. It has two-6,000 Watt bulbs and uses two images all the time, so your right eye and left eye are always getting a constant image. On a RealD 3D system, which we have in 3 different theatres here, there is 1 image that is going back and forth. So there are a lot of people that enjoy the IMAX a little better because it's not as taxing on the brain. Obviously we don’t notice it, but your brain feels it.”

Speaking of brains, in the ‘brain,’ or control room of the Portage 16 IMAX, Kevin and his staff are able to control what movie plays on what screen throughout the entire movie theatre.

“I can see all the screens, except the IMAX because that is its own entity. We can control what movie is playing in what theatre, and restart the movies if needed. Every Monday, I set the ‘show clock’ in here, which determines what movie is going to play and what theatre it is going to play in based on crowd flow,” said Kevin.

There are also computers in the control room that operate the digital marquees throughout the Portage 16 IMAX theatre and a 64-camera security system.

“Most of these things in the control room can be accessed through the internet, so corporate can check on things if they need to, or if I am from home and need to make some adjustments, I can do so myself.”

Theatre 3 in the Portage 16 IMAX has a dual purpose for different types of movie viewings.

“Theatre 3 has a big projector with a 4,000 Watt bulb, which doubles as our Fathom House. Our Fathom House is where we do all our special events, such as boxing matches, the opera, and a lot of older films. We will still show new releases in this theatre, but it is specially made for the special events we host, as well,” stated Kevin.

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In addition to hosting special viewings, the Portage 16 IMAX also has special events rooms that are available to the public to rent.

“We host a lot of Birthday parties and other events, as well. Baby showers have become increasingly popular and business meetings during the week, such as Mary Kay. There are different groups that use the party rooms at off times. There is also the mezzanine area available, on the second floor, for larger groups, usually about 100 people. That is popular for business events that host Christmas parties.”

Even though this theatre sounds pretty advanced with the newest updates, there is always room and need for improvements as technologies improve.

“Every couple of years something new comes along. We already have a few D-Box seats in Theatre 7, but we are in the process of getting ready to upgrade to one of our in-house premium digital experiences, which we call GDX. The biggest upgrade with that is that we add a Dolby Atmos sound system, which is a 3D sound. So instead of your regular surround speakers, you will also have speakers on the ceiling and all around you to bring immersive sound-listening experiences. The screen will also become a floating screen. Right now all the screens have masking around them, but with new digital technology the masking is no longer needed and without it, the screen can expand by a couple feet on both sides. We have already started receiving new equipment for this, so hopefully that will be up and running by the summer, if not then, by the end of the year,” stated Kevin.

In addition to theatre improvements, the theatre is in transition to becoming more energy efficient.

“We have also been moving slowly to changing all the lights in the building to LED lighting to make it more energy efficient. This has been about a 5-year project now because there are a lot of lights in here, and some we need to bring in equipment to reach them.” said Kevin.

In addition to technology and energy efficiency improvements, the Portage 16 IMAX is getting a concession stand upgrade, that is a rather new addition to this area, in the near future.

“We have a concession stand in the mezzanine area, but it just did not get the attention we would have liked because people really do not go in the upstairs area, other than for parties. We tried it as a coffee shop, an ice cream shop, and now we are waiting for approval to make it a bar so we can sell beer and wine. We got our liquor license in November and hopefully by May we will have the bar built up and running,” said Kevin.

With the bar coming in the near future, that may draw in more adult customers. On average, the Portage 16 IMAX will see around 6,500 people coming to watch movies in a given weekend, and around 10,000 people for the entire week. “Our record day is about 6,500 people, but it has been awhile since we have had one of those. The opening weekends of Starwars, Twilight, and The Dark Knight were all record breaking days for us.”

If all this talk on movies makes you crave some buttery movie theatre popcorn, theatre candy, and an ice cold soda, click here to check out the current movies and movie times!


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