ST. LOUIS – November 21, 2019 – The Saint Louis Science Center is reopening the newly renovated OMNIMAX Theater on Friday, November 29, after undergoing a four-month, comprehensive update –the largest since the theater opened in 1991. The renovated OMNIMAX Theater will be just one of four domes in the world featuring IMAX with Laser.
“The OMNIMAX Theater is one of the Science Center’s most popular destinations, and these updates are vital to ensure we are offering the most state-of-the-art, comfortable and accessible viewing experience,” said Todd Bastean, President and CEO of the Saint Louis Science Center. “We’re so excited about the new technology, but even more excited about the accessibility advances. In addition to increased accessible seating, we’ll be able to leverage leading-edge technology to serve guests with visual and hearing impairments, even better than we have up until now. The OMNIMAX Theater immerses our guests in experiences they would not otherwise have and takes them to places they may not be able to go to.”
The newly renovated OMNIMAX Theater will feature significant upgrades to the technology and viewing experience. These include:
- IMAX’s next-generation laser technology designed for 180-degree domed theater environments –IMAX with Laser. The groundbreaking new laser technology will further enhance The IMAX Experience® for guests. IMAX with Laser represents a quantum leap forward in cinema technology, providing audiences with the sharpest, brightest, clearest and most vivid digital images ever combined with powerful, immersive audio. The new technology will allow the Science Center to deliver a wider array of the highest-quality digital content –including documentaries and blockbuster films –and lead the industry with new kinds of cutting-edge educational experiences.
- IMAX’s state-of-the-art sound technology, which delivers the ultimate in power and precision. IMAX’s six laser-aligned loudspeakers distribute equal volume throughout the theater to create an optimum listening environment that ensures every seat is the best seat in the house. Whether it’s hearing a pin drop or feeling the heart-palpitating force of a volcano erupting, audiences will experience complete audio immersion.
- NanoSeam™ screen, making every inch of the dome surface completely uniform and virtually seam-free.
- Ability to live stream and simulcast content, increasing the variety of presentation events.
- Wider seats with retractable arm rests, creating a more comfortable experience for guests.
The renovations will also feature many enhancements to ensure the OMNIMAX Theater experience is even more accessible to provide the signature OMNIMAX Theater experience for all guests. New features will include:
- More accessible seating space for guests in wheelchairs and their companions.
- Adjustable captioning devices to allow guests to see film captions by using a device that they can adjust within their view.
- Hearing assistance devices with optional Descriptive Video Services (DVS). This allows guestswith visual and hearing impairments to hear audio more clearly or hear descriptive narration of the film alongside film audio through headphones.
- Telecoil for those with compatible hearing aids and cochlear implants, with no additional hardware needed. Guests can set their devices to a t-coil or magnet setting and have theater audio directly transmitted into their device. This technology is compatible with at least 70% of hearing aids currently in use.
The theater will open with the feature-length film Frozen 2, along with the documentary Great Bear Rainforest. In addition, the documentary Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation will return to the theater. On December 20, the theater will open Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
More than 200 thousand guests see an OMNIMAX film at the Science Center each year. Revenue from the Science Center’s ticketed venues, like the OMNIMAX Theater, helps support STEM education programs.
History of the Science Center’s OMNIMAX Theater
The OMNIMAX Theater opened in 1991 to provide an immersive and educational movie watching experience for the greater St. Louis area. Prior to this, large movie theater screens existed but dome-shaped IMAX screen were, and remain, rare. The first film to be shown in the theater was To the Limit, a film following various athletes that gave a unique view into the inside of their vital organs using endoscopic cameras and advanced computer technology. The five-story theater instantly captivated guests with its detailed imagery and intense sound technology.
In 2004, the theater closed for renovations to install a new reel unit to allow showings of feature length films without needing intermissions. The first feature length film shown at the theater was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
“Since its opening, the OMNIMAX Theater has featured 121 films enjoyed by 8,750,000 guests,” said Bastean. “We look forward to providing our guests with not only a heightened viewing experience, but also a vastly wider variety of choices in films. This is part of the Science Center’s commitment to continually deliver rich and engaging experiences that support the mission to ‘ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning.’”
Saint Louis Science Center
The mission of the Saint Louis Science Center is to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning. Named a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate in 2016, the Saint Louis Science Center features more than 700 interactive exhibits, as well as a five-story OMNIMAX® Theater, Boeing Hall and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. For more information about the Saint Louis Science Center, please visit slsc.org.