The 7 Best Screens in the US to Watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The wait for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is nearly over. But with a film this highly anticipated, just heading down to the local multiplex doesn’t seem up to snuff. This movie deserves a palatial theatrical experience with the latest cutting-edge projection technology and highest quality sound system available. J.J. Abrams shot at least one sequence in The Force Awakens using 70mm IMAX cameras—so IMAX is the best format for diehard fans who want the fullest experience.
Tickets for opening weekend have likely sold out, but for anybody who’s waiting out the initial rush—or just wants to see it again—finding the best screen possible is a priority. So in order to facilitate the beauty, we rounded up a list of some of the best theaters across the country for the best possible Force Awakens viewing experience. All but one of these theaters feature either 70mm 2D IMAX projection—which is how Abrams shot the heaviest action in the film—or the 3D IMAX Laser Projection the director praised in an Associated Press interview. We also took into consideration what we could discern about the atmosphere and plush seating of each theater. (In total there are 7 theaters in North America with 3D IMAX Laser projection and 13 with 70mm 2D IMAX. io9 catalogued them all here.)
TCL Chinese Theatres IMAX, Hollywood, CA
Originally known as Grauman’s Chinese Theater, this historic landmark (pictured above) is not only home to The Force Awakens‘ U.S. premiere tonight, but was where the original Star Wars premiered in 1977. It also features one of the largest IMAX theaters in North America, with 932 seats.
AMC Metreon 16 & IMAX, San Francisco, CA
Another of the largest IMAX theaters in the country, SF’s Metreon also boasts a local connection that makes it the place for Bay Area Star Wars fans to see the new film. Since SF is also the home of Dolby Laboratories, the Metreon theater is fortunate enough to have both 3D IMAX Laser projection as well as a theater equipped with AMC ETX, which features Dolby Atmos sound.
Alamo Drafthouse La Vista, Omaha, NE
Chances are that any Drafthouse location is going to be a great viewing experience for The Force Awakens—but that’s not why this is the only non-IMAX theater on this list. We chose the new Omaha location specifically because the Austin-based theater chain hired Kansas City design firm Dimensional Innovations to outfit the lobby in Star Wars style. There’s a 10-foot replica of the Death Star, Emperor Palpatine’s throne, and other touches nodding to the series. For anyone in the midwest getting dressed up for a midnight showing, this theater offers some fantastic background.
Sunbrella IMAX 3D Theatre, Jordan’s Furniture Reading, Reading, MA
The 500-seat IMAX theater just outside Boston has a 4K IMAX 3D Laser projection system, but it’s the unique sound system that makes it a standout. Jordan’s equips its seats with Guitammer ButtKicker subwoofers , which emit low-frequency sounds to shake the seats during the film. If Han tells Chewie to “punch it,” you’ll know it.
Airbus IMAX, Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, VA
The Smithsonian actually has three IMAX theaters: this one, (which has new 3D Laser projection), the Lockheed Martin IMAX at the Air & Space Museum (with 70mm 2D IMAX), and the Samuel C. Johnson IMAX Theater at the Museum of Natural History. But this is the newest one—and has an 86-foot wide screen to boot.
Boeing IMAX and the Pacific Science Center, Seattle, WA
Another of the lucky few theaters to get the 4K laser projectors earlier in 2015, this Pacific Northwest theater was upgraded with an 80-foot screen, a 14-speaker sound system, and brand new seats.
Omni, Fort Worth Museum of Science & History, Fort Worth, TX
The Omni has operated as an IMAX Dome theater since 1983, making it the first such theater in the southwest, and one of the only to continually update along with new IMAX technology.