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XD vs IMAX: Which is the better theatre experience?

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  • 5 min read

XD and IMAX are two large-format screens on which movies are released worldwide. Cinema buffs are at the loggerheads over which theatre experience is better.

However, before moving on to any conclusion, you must know about the two formats and be able to differentiate between them.

In this article, we’ll comprehensively compare Cinemark XD and IMAX on various aspects such as screen size, projection technology, sound quality, and price, to help you decide which one suits your preferences and budget.

Here’s what we will cover:

Screen size

One of the primary and most obvious differences between the XD and IMAX is their respective screen sizes.

IMAX screens are taller than XD but usually are not wider. For example, the average height of IMAX screens is about 72 feet whereas Cinemark XD screens are about 70 feet although some IMAX theatres have screen lengths of 100 feet. Usually, the height difference is not that large and you won’t even notice such a minor increase.

On the other hand, the width of IMAX is quite less when compared to XD screens. IMAX screens are usually 50-60 feet wide, whereas XD screens can be massively wide up to 133 feet.

Both the large screen formats are big enough to boost your viewing experience. However, some people prefer XD screens simply because of the width.

Due to the variation in screen sizes, there is a considerable variation in the aspect ratio. The recommended aspect ratio for IMAX screens is 1.43:1 or 1.90:1 whereas for XD screens it is 2.20:1 or 1.85:1.

Projection technology

The second major difference between IMAX and XD is their type of projection technology. IMAX uses two 2K projectors to juxtapose the images with one another. Some IMAX theatres can also use a single 4K projector depending on individual theatres.

To counter the lack of pixels, IMAX uses various techniques such as a 70 mm film format that captures more light and shows clear images. IMAX also uses DMR, a proprietary process to digitally remaster images and enhance their quality.

Cinemark XD uses a single 4K laser projector to deliver ultra-high-quality images.

Both XD and IMAX deliver high-quality images and stunning visuals and it depends on user preference.

Also read: UDIMM vs DIMM: Key Differences 

Sound quality

What is IMAX? Should you spend the extra bucks to watch IMAX movies?

The third factor in deciding between XD and IMAX is the sound quality. Both formats use almost similar sound equipment and technology.

IMAX uses a 12-channel sound system where six speakers are positioned behind the screen and six speakers surround the hall or auditorium. The speakers are tuned to the specific design of each auditorium to match the acoustics.

IMAX also deploys DTS:X technology rivalling that of Dolby Atmos to deliver a 3D sound experience.

Cinemark XD builds its sound architecture on 11.1 multi-channel surround-sound speakers which, by some accounts, do not match the quality of the IMAX theatre experience. However, if you are not a regular movie buff, you won’t notice it.


The fourth deciding factor is the ticket pricing. Unfortunately, both the Cinemark XD and IMAX tickets are more expensive than the standard tickets as they offer an unforgettable movie experience.

Although the exact price of the tickets may depend on various factors such as theatre location, day and date, show timings, and country. However, between XD and IMAX, XD tickets are slightly cheaper as the Cinemark theatre chain is one of the largest in the United States.

AspectIMAXCinemark XD
Screen sizeTaller (average height: 72 feet)Wider (up to 133 feet)
Not as wide (50-60 feet)
Variations in height noticeableConsiderable width for an expansive view
Aspect ratio: 1.43:1 or 1.90:1Aspect ratio: 2.20:1 or 1.85:1
Projection technologyTwo 2K projectors or a single 4K projectorSingle 4K laser projector
Variations in height are noticeable
Techniques to counter lack of pixels
Price is influenced by factors like location, day, timing12-channel sound system11.1 multi-channel surround-sound speakers
DTS:X technology for 3D sound experienceDTS:X technology for a 3D sound experience
Notable sound quality for both formats
PricingGenerally more expensiveSlightly less expensive than IMAX
Price influenced by factors like location, day, timingSome accounts suggest the quality superiority of IMAX

XD vs IMAX: Which is the better theatre experience?

In the end, the choice between Cinemark XD and IMAX comes down to personal preferences. If you value a towering screen with a focus on height, along with a sound system that utilizes advanced technology, IMAX might be your preferred choice. On the other hand, if you prefer a wider screen at a slightly more affordable price point, Cinemark XD could be the better option.

Consider factors such as your inclination towards screen dimensions, the specific projection technology that appeals to you, and your budget constraints. Whether it’s the breathtaking height of IMAX or the expansive width of XD, both formats promise an unforgettable cinematic experience, ensuring that moviegoers can choose the theatre that aligns perfectly with their cinematic preferences.

Also read: 13th gen Intel i5 vs 12th gen i7: Which is better for gaming and editing?

Kumar Hemant

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: