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Why Star Wars Fans Won't Be Able To Watch The Force Awakens The Way J.J. Abrams Wants

If you bought your tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in IMAX 3D, you might want to check your tickets after reading this article. Chances are, you aren't going to be seeing it in the true 70mm splendor that J.J. Abrams wants you to experience.

Screen Crush scooped the details about how only a limited number of 375 to 400 IMAX screens carrying the film will be showing it in native 70mm projection. How many? According to the article, only 18 of these screens will be showing the film with a full IMAX celluloid projection. If you’re fuming about this now, you should wait until you hear the even worse news, as if you’re lucky enough to have tickets to see the film in full IMAX, you’re not going to be seeing it in 3D.

Apparently, Disney underestimated the demand for a full IMAX presentation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens - so much so that they didn’t strike enough 70mm prints to put into as many theaters as Interstellar. For comparison, four times as many screens were able to run Interstellar in a full IMAX 70MM presentation when it premiered last fall. Which means that even if you knew which theaters near you ran Interstellar in 70mm last year, you probably still won’t be seeing that sort of presentation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens making its way to your neighborhood. Even if you are one of the lucky few, your experience won't be in 3D, as that's basically reserved for all digital presentations of the film.

The most heartbreaking piece of information about this whole debacle is the fact that much like Star Wars fans around the world, J.J. Abrams really wanted you to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in full IMAX. As you’ll remember, Abrams teased fans with the following tweet during the shooting of the film, proving that the film was indeed filmed with 70mm IMAX cameras.

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To put a little more salt in the wound, J.J. Abrams went on record with the following statement during the film’s production last year:

The opportunity to have an action sequence for [Star Wars: The Force Awakens] done in IMAX’s natural format was too delicious an idea to pass up. As a filmgoer, it’s something I want to see.

So after all of this hype about seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens on film and in IMAX 70mm, the ball has been summarily dropped. You can practically hear thousands of voices screaming out in anger, only to be silenced by some sort of action on the behalf of Disney and IMAX. As of this moment, it looks like those voices will never be silenced. Worse still, IMAX is going to have to do a lot of damage control to make sure future releases like In The Heart Of The Sea or Captain America: Civil War aren’t met with the question, "Is this the same IMAX that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shown in?"

Star Wars: The Force Awakens drops on December 18th, and if you click over to the next page, you’ll see the 18 locations lucky enough to have won the 2D IMAX 70MM lottery.

The following locations will be showing Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2D IMAX 70MM:


McWane Center IMAX Dome Theatre – Birmingham IMAX, U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville


Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum – San Jose


Museum of Discovery & Science AutoNation IMAX – Ft. Lauderdale IMAX Dome, Museum of Science & Industry – Tampa


IMAX, Indiana State Museum - Indianapolis


Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center of Iowa – Des Moines


Branson’s IMAX, Entertainment Complex – Branson St. Louis Science Center OMNIMAX Theatre – St. Louis


Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute– Philadelphia

Washington, DC

Lockheed Martin IMAX, National Air & Space Museum

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.