IMAX theater will make Kingsport a destination city

Editorial Board • Feb 29, 2016 at 3:36 PM

That Frank Theatres is committed to Kingsport and will be breaking ground in just several weeks on its promised theater expansion at Kingsport Town Center is more than just a badly needed economic shot in the arm. Because what Frank is bringing to Kingsport is more than your average IMAX.

We’re getting the best of the best. There’ll be nothing like it not just in the Tri-Cities region, but the entire Southeastern U.S.

IMAX theaters come in a variety of sizes. There are more than 1,000 such theaters worldwide, and they are differentiated by their use of 70mm film, which has much more “information” than the standard 35mm film format. It’s comparable to a TV screen in that with 35mm film, the theater screen image is 6,000 lines of horizontal resolution while IMAX’s 70mm format provides 18,000 lines of resolution.

But what Frank is bringing here is the latest IMAX technology: 4K 3D IMAX laser projection.

The main difference between that and standard IMAX is a laser light source rather than powerful xenon arc lamps.

This results in a brighter, sharper picture, along with a wider color gamut. IMAX with laser looks incredible, similar to standing in front of the new 4K TV screen and seeing unimaginable detail. The sharpness, contrast and dynamic range are unsurpassed.

Nor is Frank settling for one of those smaller IMAX screens as found in many IMAX theaters. IMAX screen sizes range from 1,103 square feet to 4,980 square feet, the latter a screen that is about 60 feet tall and 82 feet wide. And that’s what’s coming to Kingsport.

There are only six other IMAX laser projectors currently operating in the U.S. Three are in California — at Hollywood, San Francisco and University City. One is in Seattle, another is at Reading, Pa., and the sixth at Chantilly, Va., near Washington, D.C.

Before the year’s out, the seventh will be in Kingsport, and that will make us a destination city for the best theater experience possible.

For instance, when “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” debuted last fall, Wired Magazine published a story touting the best theaters in America to see it. And they were those with IMAX laser projectors. First-run movies of that caliber shot in this technology will bring viewers from throughout the Southeast to Kingsport.

And that translates into a major economic boost for the Kingsport Town Center, which has suffered loss of stores and is in need of a major overhaul, something mall owner Somera Capital Investment had promised several years ago. With legal obstacles overcome and with Frank’s investment in a 20,000-square-foot expansion, Somera will be moving forward on its renovation here with possibly a new anchor for the center, making it a regional shopping experience.

These projects will leverage additional retail investment that will continue what has been a record expansion for the city over the past decade, the result of individuals like former Mayor Dennis Phillips and Mayor John Clark committed to keeping Kingsport moving forward to the benefit of its residents and the region.

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