Gone are the days of simply picking your theater, movie, and time to see the latest flicks. Nowadays, you have to choose from a dizzying number of showing types and add-ons – and that’s well before you even make it up to the concession stand. Standard. IMAX. ScreenX. Real 3D. Dolby Cinema. XD movies. And the list goes on and on. The only real way to choose the best moviegoing experience for your needs is by knowing what each screen type offers. Ready to get started? Let’s take a look at just what is an XD movie, for starters, so you can get the inside scoop before your next trip to the theater.
XD Movie Overview
XD movie theaters are Cinemark’s answer to the IMAX experience. The XD in the name stands for Extreme Digital cinema, reflecting its marked improvement over standard theater screens. In fact, XD movies go beyond standard theater setups by using high-quality wall-to-wall screens that stretch from floor to ceiling.
Their 11.1 surround sound systems beautifully complement the oversized screens, making you feel like you’re right in the movie. Then, to bring everything together, the XD theaters have cushy reclining seats plus the ability to upgrade to motion-enhanced D-BOX seating in select areas.
History of the XD Movie Experience
Cinemark announced the creation of the XD movie experience in 2009. Since then, they’ve rolled out many upgrades to improve the screen, sound, and seating quality. Their debut Extreme Digital screen graced the Century San Francisco Centre 9 theater in California.
With that screen in place, San Francisco moviegoers enjoyed getting to see both 2D and 3D flicks while kicking back and relaxing in the Luxury Loungers. Although Cinemark would eventually upgrade to 11.1 multi-layer channel surround sound, a basic 7.1 system was standard at this time. The moviegoing experience still felt wholly immersive from the start, resulting in XD movies going nationwide.
IMAX Legal Challenges
As the XD movie experience quickly made waves across the nation, IMAX took notice and promptly filed a lawsuit. As the self-proclaimed “World’s Most Immersive Movie Experience,” they were taken aback by Cinemark’s bold new approach to playing movies.
So much so, in fact, that IMAX decided to sue Cinemark for breach of contract and trade secret violations. Counterclaims added to the drama, although the whole thing ended up getting settled out of court.
Today, both IMAX and XD movies go head to head on the regular. Moviegoers benefit from having plenty of excellent options to consider whenever they want to see the next big hit to come out of Hollywood.
The XD Movie Difference
Cinemark puts its all into creating the ultimate Extreme Digital moviegoing experience. Their efforts resulted in excellent visuals and the sound quality to match, delighting even the most critical movie buffs out there. In many ways, IMAX remains the gold standard, but that’s only due to its proprietary large-format motion picture tech.
Without that exacting tech on its side, Cinemark did pretty well in reimagining that approach. Their 4K projectors brilliantly paint the imagery on the 70-foot screens using a stunning 35 trillion colors. Although you might suspect that 20 trillion colors might do, the side-by-side difference actually turns out to be quite remarkable.
After their upgrades, the Auro 11.1 surround sound system brings the movie to life with well-placed effects coming from all around the room. The system actually works like a 5.1 sound system doubled but the results are nothing short of phenomenal. Whispers and other subtle tones come through loud and clear while explosions and the like don’t blast out your eardrums.
When you go see XD movies at Cinemark, you’ll get to enjoy:
- 70-foot tall screens
- Barco projectors
- 35 trillion colors
- 4K resolution
- 2D and 3D showings
- 16:9 aspect ratio
- Auro 11.1 surround sound
- No bad seat in the house
For all that, you just have to pay about $2.50 more for each ticket. Theaters in metropolitan areas typically have higher ticket prices overall. But the difference between standard and XD tickets remains largely the same.
The XD movie experience still has room to improve if they want to come out ahead of IMAX. Cinemark’s usage of the 16:9 aspect ratio doesn’t work for movies edited to work best on 1.90:1 IMAX screens.
To compensate for the difference, it’s sometimes necessary to put in black letterbox bars along the top and bottom of the screen. More often than not, these bars show up in blockbuster hits, like Avengers: Infinity War, which was shot in 1.90:1 to align with IMAX specs, not other screens.
As for the surround sound system for XD movies, the biggest drawback centers around the fact that Dolby has become the industry standard. Like with the aspect ratio differences, not all movies are mixed to work at their best in Auro 11.1.
So, in the end, Dolby systems still outperforms Auro in terms of sound quality and placement. But Cinemark does its best to make up for that by turning up the treble and bass levels accordingly.
How Cinemark Improves the Moviegoing Experience
Cinemark doesn’t just let the wall-to-wall 4K screens bring patrons through the doors, although they definitely could. To provide the best value, they go above and beyond in creating a memorable moviegoing experience with:
The concessions stand at Cinemark offers all your snacky favorites, starting with classic hot, buttery popcorn. You can get your popcorn in a huge bucket to share or grab a handheld cup for each person to enjoy on their own. Coca-Cola drinks and candy complete the classic concession offerings, but they don’t stop there.
Other mouthwatering goodies you can get include:
- Hot Dogs
- Chicken tenders
- Chicken sandwiches
You don’t even need to go up to the stand anymore either. Just use their Snacks in a Tap app to order what you want, and it’ll get delivered to your seat while you watch the flick.
At select locations, they even have beer, wine, and cocktails available for the 21 and over crowd. Margaritas hit differently while sipping in the theater, giving you endless opportunities to handcraft your ideal moviegoing experience.
Keep in mind that each theater location has its own food and drink items on tap. So, you’ll have to keep an open mind on what to get until you figure out what your local theater offers.
Comfy seating is a must if the theater wants to keep you fully immersed in the movie playing out on the big screen. So, to keep the focus on their picture and sound quality, Cinemark has rolled out their cozy Luxury Loungers. These seats are super spacious and adjustable to suit your comfort preferences.
Whenever you come to see a movie, you can just hit the button to put up the extendable footrests and recline the seat backs to near horizontal if you wish. Or you can keep them upright and stay comfortable even while perched on the edge of your seat.
Trays and cupholders keep your snacks and drinks at the ready, so you can focus on what’s happening on the screen. You’re then free to throw your hands up, clap at the end of the show, and otherwise let your personality shine.
At some locations, they take the Luxury Loungers to the next level with integrated heating. With those controls in hand, you can set your ideal seat temp and stay cozy all throughout the film.
To make the experience even more immersive, D-BOX seating was born. These ultra-luxury seats put you right in the middle of the action with well-timed movements and vibrations that match the action onscreen. As all the tactile textures come through the seats, you’ll get to see what it’s like to view movies in 4D.
A true hallmark of the future, D-BOX seats are a must-try experience at least once in your life. But you’ll likely come back time and again for the hyper-realistic feel. While these seats are wildly popular, they’re not available everywhere.
In fact, you’ll only find them at a handful of Cinemark theaters nationwide. So, if you’re ever near one of these well-equipped cinemas, it’s worth stopping by to see how D-BOX seating enhances XD movies.
On top of all that, Cinemark can guarantee that there’s no bad seat in the house. Thanks to the 70-foot-tall, wall-to-wall screens at the front of each XD movie theater, every last seat offers the optimal viewing angle.
Knowing that, it’s easy to reserve your seat ahead of time using their website or another app. You can then rest assured that you’re going to have an excellent view of whatever movie you want to see next.
Is an XD Movie Really Worth Seeing?
Overall, XD movies are well worth checking out for yourself. Everyone’s viewing preferences differ, however, so you’ll have to gauge if it’s the ultimate movie-watching experience.
Plus, you’ll need to check out IMAX, Dolby Cinema, and all the rest for comparison purchases. All that means is that you will get to see all the latest flicks on the big screen, making it a journey worth taking, for sure.
Don’t forget to see XD movies in both 2D and 3D, so you can compare that experience, too. The same film can feel quite a bit different depending on the format it’s presented in, after all.
Furthermore, watch several types of movies before making your final judgment. Huge blockbusters filmed in 1.90:1 may come out differently than others filmed in the standard 16:9 aspect ratio. So, you never really know how the XD movies will look until you see all the options for yourself.
Where to Find Cinemark XD Movie Showings
Cinemark has over 500 theaters located in the United States and beyond. At those theaters, they have 5,855 screens and counting, many of which have upgraded to the XD movies format.
With so many theaters across the nation, you’re sure to find one near you whenever it’s time to watch a new release on the silver screen. You just have to go to Cinemark’s website and type in your zip code to see if you have theaters nearby.
The screen that pops up will display a list of all the theaters in your area. Plus, it’ll show whether each location has XD movies, luxury loungers, restaurants, beer and wine bar, arcades, and so much more.
You can then click through your preferred option to see what movies they have playing at that time. Then, you’re free to select your showing date and time to reserve your seat.
If you’d rather find their locations, review your options, and reserve your seat using your phone, just download their app instead. The intuitive interface simplifies the process considerably, ensuring you can grab a spot at your preferred XD movie in no time flat.
Is XD better than IMAX?
IMAX might be the gold standard, but XD movies are quickly catching up. The 70-foot-tall screens beautifully display the film in 4k using over 35 trillion colors in its makeup. Auro 11.1 surround sound brings the film to life while the Luxury Loungers keep you feeling cozy through every movie.
Is Dolby Cinema better than XD?
Dolby Cinema has XD movies beat when it comes to sound quality, for sure. Their super high-definition 4K projectors more than rival Cinemark’s as well, especially when it comes to 3D. Since they use two projectors, you can kiss your 3D glasses goodbye and just enjoy the 3D film as it was truly intended.
Do the seats move in XD?
The seats move in Cinemark XD movies when you get the D-BOX seating. These high-tech seats move, rumble, and vibrate with the film to provide a 100% immerse viewing experience. If you don’t get the D-BOX seats, you will just have Luxury Loungers to sit in, allowing you to kick back and relax all throughout the film.
What’s the difference between XD and standard?
Cinemark XD movies use a much larger screen to play movies for the crowds than their standard theaters do. In addition, the XD movies have louder 11.1 surround sound systems that help bring the movie to life. Luxury Loungers elevate the XD experience even more, although many theaters allow you to upgrade to immersive D-BOX seating instead.