Caribbean Cinemas to Bring First IMAX and 4DX Screens to Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico-based movie theater chain Caribbean Cinemas is remodeling its Montehiedra Cinemas multiplex in Guaynabo and will bring two new cinema formats to Puerto Rico, IMAX and 4DX, the company announced Tuesday.
The $6 million reconstruction, which will generate about 90 direct and indirect jobs, is slated to finish at the end of May. Once completed, the project will turn into a 13-screen multiplex, capable of fitting 1,900 people, that includes 10 conventional movie theaters, one Caribbean Cinemas Extreme (CXC) theater, one 4DX screen and one IMAX theater.
IMAX, short for Image MAXimum, has long been regarded as a premium movie projection format, requiring extra-large screens capable of providing a top-notch and immersive picture quality. While the format has mostly been used for short-length documentaries at museums around the world, feature film directors such as Christopher Nolan have increasingly used the format for commercial releases in recent years.
“We had wanted to bring IMAX to Puerto Rico for several years,” Caribbean Cinemas President Robert Carrady said. “When the time came to remodel Montehiedra Cinemas, we saw the opportunity to merge two movie theaters into one by taking down the dividing wall and raising the roof to a height of 54 feet.” As a result, the IMAX theater, which will fit about 400 people, will feature a 46- by 80-foot screen, the biggest in the Caribbean and Central America, Carrady added. By comparison, the company’s CXC theaters feature 30- by 50-foot screens.
As for 4DX, the format aims to provide a theme park-like experience that goes beyond three-dimensional films that require special glasses, with an array of 24 different multi-sensorial effects designed to provide a deeper sense of immersion. These include special seats designed to move and vibrate according to the on-screen action as well as nozzles in front of audience members that would spray air, water and fragrances; roof-mounted units capable of generating rain, snow, wind and even bubbles; and floor-mounted fog machines.
Carrady noted that the Montehiedra 4DX theater, which is expected to fit 110 people, will become the fifth of its type to open in a U.S. jurisdiction. “There is already one in Los Angeles and two more being built, each in New York City and Chicago, as we speak,” the Caribbean Cinemas president said. A company based in South Korea, CJ 4DPLEX, created the 4DX concept, which is now found in about 400 screens worldwide, and its effects are nowadays incorporated with most major Hollywood blockbuster releases.
Regarding the company’s proprietary CXC format, it marked the company’s initial venture into large-scale movie screens when it opened the first theater with such a format in Las Catalinas Mall in Caguas in December 2014. It currently operates three more CXC screens in Plaza Guaynabo, Plaza Las Américas and Barceloneta. CXC theaters boast digital projection at 4K, or ultrahigh, resolution and a Dolby Atmos sound system, which takes the concept of surround sound further to incorporate 60 speakers on the sides and roof of the theater. Montehiedra is slated to become the fifth CXC screen, and the company plans a sixth one in Ponce.
Tickets for IMAX showings will command around $15 each, Carrady revealed, with 4DX tickets hovering at about $14, CXC tickets costing about $12 to $13, and traditional screens charging about $5 less.
“Most big releases will play in theaters with different formats to cater to any budget,” Carrady said, adding that the company also plans to carry out screenings of nature documentaries on its IMAX screen for educational purposes.