A movie buff will always leave home for a movie with a single intention of getting the most enhanced movie viewing experience.

However, do you realize that these experiences are never dependent on one factor but rather an output of many things combined?

One of such most important factors is the Cinema Technology of the theatre. The most popular of them being – Dolby Cinema & IMAX!

This blog post will help you understand the major differences between these two technologies.

As the industry keeps evolving & growing, the experience of cinema needs to keep up with the speed too.

From the projection system, sound system to the seating, everything matters. And that’s what makes the Dolby Cinema & IMAX what they are today.

The most important difference between the two –

The images projected by Dolby Cinema have a 500 times higher contrast ratio and 4 times more resolution compared to IMAX.

On the other hand, IMAX has 40% bigger screens and a 26% taller aspect ratio.

Let’s deep dive into understanding them.


What is IMAX?

You might look around and you will find an IMAX theatre faster than a Dolby Cinema.  

It was found over 50 years back with a vision to deliver the most immersive movie experience to movie lovers. Starting with 2D, they also adapted to the 3D format which used an aspect ratio of 1.43:1. 

IMAX has more than 1500 theatres in more than 80 countries which is far more than the Dolby Cinema.


What is Dolby Cinema?

The Dolby Cinema is a synonym to Premium Cinema Experience for many cinema owners out there. The fact that many theatres have been willing to upgrade their equipment to include the Dolby Cinema Technology is the biggest testimony of the same.


Ever been to a movie and felt there’s a baby crying close to you only to realize that the sound came from the movie itself? It certainly felt more real than cinematic, right?

That’s the kind of experience Dolby Cinema technology creates for its audience. 

To help you understand a bit of technicality, it offers up to 2,000 watts per channel of audio and the latest Dolby projection. This helps them create a phenomenal sound experience by generating sound from all across the cinema hall.

Coming from a decade old experience of providing premium surround sound experience to the world, Dolby Cinema has managed to establish itself in 197 cinemas across the globe.


Let’s have a look at some major points of differences.


Image Quality

Dolby Cinema provides an HDR (High Dynamic Range) experience that is more realistic, has a wider range of colours & much higher contrast. It provides more digital information than HDR10 and supports more metadata and dynamic metadata. Talking about the color quality, Dolby Cinema supports 12-bit with 12-bit depth and 10,000 nits brightness at the max.

Most of the theatres having IMAX technology only use 2k resolution. Only a new theatre will be able to give that dual 4k laser projector experience. However, even that will just be three times better than what the standard movie format offers.


Image Format 

The tables have turned now and this part is definitely on the IMAX side.

IMAX’s technology provisions for a taller aspect ratio of 1.90:1 against the average ratio of 2.40:1 in Dolby Cinema. IMAX has 26% more screen surface than what we get from other movie formats.This provides for a more detailed viewing experience in theatres having IMAX technology than Dolby Cinema.



Needless to say, Dolby Cinema is the winner here!

It ensures an exclusive surround sound experience that is unmatched with any other movie format. The Dolby Atmos Technology which is the reason behind this sound quality is currently enabled in more than 5,000 theatres around the world. 

It not only helps to track any moving objects across the cinema hall with sound but also makes you experience low-frequency sounds in your seat. Isn’t that totally the next level of technology?

On the other hand, IMAX is definitely not doing a bad job. They have been making some advancements and stand as a better option than many other standard movie formats. The theatres with IMAX technology typically have more and bigger speakers than the usual ones. They help to produce a smoother sound experience.



The Dolby Cinema system offers recliner chair seating which is wider and equipped with transducers. You can adjust it as per your interest.

The IMAX system has the normal seats which are a bit more comfortable but can’t be adjusted.

The recliner seats definitely give you the freedom to be seated in a more relaxed way. Therefore, when it comes to experience, they are much better as compared to IMAX seats which do just fine.


2D & 3D

While Dolby only has 2D, the IMAX has both 2D & 3D.

So the choice is quite straight here. If you wish to watch a 3D film, you will have to opt for IMAX. However, if it’s a 2D movie, you can always opt for Dolby for the most immersive experience.


Final words!

Now that you know the difference, you can make the choice based on what kind of experience you want to have.

Although we saw both the technologies have their share of pros and cons, these two definitely stand out as the most popular forms of cinema moviegoers around the world.

While Dolby Cinema gets you access to highly enhanced digital content, the IMAX manages to create a massive cinema experience with its bigger screens.


So, what would be your choice for the next movie round? Let us know in the comments below!