When it comes to movie-going experiences, there are many options available to the average consumer.

One such experience is Big D, a lesser know premium large format that delivers an amazing cinematic experience to its audiences.

Big D provides audiences with larger screens and more immersive sound, as well as luxury seating.

In this post, we will explore the amenities that the Big D Experience provides as well as compare it to other popular premium formats such as IMAX.

Information about the Big D premium experience

Big D auditoriums are a premium large format created by Carmike Cinemas. These auditoriums provide larger screens, more advanced sound systems, luxury seating, and better picture quality than your typical standard theater.

Both 2d and 3D showtimes are available for this premium large format which is normal among PLFs, IMAX offers this as well as DFX, Big D auditoriums are mostly seen at AMC classic locations.

According to the most recent data, there is only 30 locations left. It is unclear if there will be any expansion or decline in these numbers. AMC is currently prioritizing other PLF’s such as Dolby Cinema, Laser, Prime, and IMAX.

in-depth comparison: Big D vs iMAX


IMAX is the largest and most widely available premium movie-going experience in the world. Many people who live near a Big D theater want to know if they should see a movie in that format or in IMAX.

There are key differences between Big D and IMAX however I will say that both are very good options and provide a much better experience than standard theaters.

However, IMAX is a clear winner. In the proceeding sections, we’ll explore what sets IMAX and Big D apart from each other and which one might be the better choice for your next movie-going adventure.

IMAX has bigger screens But it depends

Big D theaters feature wall-to-wall screens which can sometimes reach 81 feet wide (3 stories). IMAX screens have an average size of 72′ by 50′ with the largest IMAX theater in the world being in Leonberg, Germany measuring at 127′ by 69′.

IMAX is known for its gigantic screens as this is one of the main reasons they are the most well-known premium large format in the world. The seating in IMAX theaters sit’s closer to the screen which allows for a more immersive cinematic experience as well.

IMAX also displays films in a 1.90:1 aspect ratio that makes the movie look huge and fills your field of vision. This makes movies incredibly immersive in IMAX.

The stadium seating and the curved nature of the screen allow audiences to be in awe of the gigantic screen and its life-like image. However, IMAX has had quality control issues and their format is not standardized across all theaters.

The screen size can vary dramatically depending on the type of theater you are going to so it’s best to make sure how large the screen is before deciding to see a film in IMAX.

Typically IMAX 70mm film locations have the largest screen sizes.

The IMAX experience is almost exclusively available in theaters, the immersive 1.90:1 aspect ratio is rarely able to make it’s way to home media except for a few conditions.

Pretty much any Christopher Nolan film gets the IMAX treatment on Blu-Ray, The Dark Knight is a film that fills up the entire screen on your television, no black bars.

Who has the better digital projectors?

It is not clear what type of projector Big D auditoriums use today, but it has been claimed that they used Christie Brilliant 3D flash projectors in the past.

These projectors can display a picture with a much higher resolution than HD and produce a light output of 30,000 lumens. IMAX theaters used to display most of their movies on 70mm film but today use digital projection.

IMAX digital locations use two Christie 2k digital projectors and provide a brighter image compared to most standard auditoriums.

IMAX with Laser auditoriums provide a pristine 4k image that results in a brighter and sharper image as well as a wider color gamut. Meanwhile, IMAX 70mm film locations can project at a resolution of up to 16k.

Both of these types of IMAX theaters will be a better option than Big D.

Cinematic immersion through surround sound

When the Big D experience was first conceived the company claimed that they were using a custom QSC surround sound system with a 7.1 speaker array, with an ability to upgrade to 11.1.

The theaters also showcased 21 inch subwoofers in order to provide cleaner bass. On the other hand IMAX digital utilizes a 5.1-channel surround sound system that is custom-built by the company.

IMAX theaters offer louder sound with more dynamic range as well as cleaner bass. Imax with Laser is even more advanced with a custom 12 channel surround sound system.

IMAX Seating Can be uncomfortable

Big D auditoriums supposedly offer premium seating but it is not clear if this means that the format provides recliners and/or plush/leather seats. Meanwhile, IMAX seats are rather notorious for being very uncomfortable.

IMAX attempts to pack as many seats as possible into the theater so there is no room for reclining seats. Seating varies by location but I have also noticed that IMAX seats slant toward the screen and are hard to slouch/lean back in.

However, as previously mentioned IMAX seating is tilted closer to the screen and this adds to the visceral cinematic experience of seeing a film. IMAX seating varies by location similar to their screen size so check with your local location.

PLF’s can get expensive when it comes to price

There isn’t much public information regarding how much Big D ticket prices cost but they are definitely going to be less than IMAX tickets.

IMAX ticket costs can range anywhere from 15-25 dollars depending on where you live and what showtime you choose (weekday. weekend, matinee, evening). IMAX with Laser and IMAX 3D tickets can be even more expensive.

Conclusion: Is Big D worth the extra charge?

Seeing a movie in Big D is absolutely worth it as you will be getting better sound and picture quality as well as a bigger screen size compared to a standard auditorium.

However, if you have a digital IMAX theater near you I think that is the better choice. Especially if it is a real 70mm IMAX location or an IMAX with laser.

If you want to see a film in 3D and you have an IMAX 3D theater near you I think that is a better choice as well because IMAX projection is state of the art when it comes to showing films in that format.

You should find out the technical specifications of your local IMAX if you want to make an informed decision regarding Big D vs IMAX.