Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater Replaces 6-Story Screen

  • Friday, September 16, 2022

The Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater was closed on Thursday and Friday, for a monumental undertaking: the replacement of its six-story tall, 89- foot-wide screen.


This behemoth, more than six times larger than a standard-ratio theater screen, is one of the features that sets the IMAX 3D theater apart from conventional movie theaters.


In preparation for hosting the Giant Screen Cinema Association’s (GSCA) annual international conference at the end of September, the Aquarium partnered with the IMAX Corporation to replace the existing six-year-old screen so the theater would look its best for the international event, which draws giant-screen filmmakers, distributors, theaters, suppliers, manufacturers, and students from around the world.

(GSCA membership includes more than 260 organizations in 20 countries.)


“Normally, theaters replace their screens every ten years or so,” said IMAX Senior Operator and Manager Corey Cobb. “We’re changing ours out even sooner to ensure our audiences and visiting giant-screen industry leaders enjoy the best viewing experience possible, now and into the future.”


The two-day process is nearly as impressive as the giant-sized screen itself. First, crews construct scaffolding below the screen to facilitate the removal of the old screen. Next, the old screen is sliced vertically into sections to make it easier to lower and remove.


The new screen arrives rolled around an aluminum tube and carefully packed inside a shipping container on a flatbed truck. A crane is used to unload the enormous parcel, and once unpacked, it takes about 20 people to carry the 1,500-pound roll into the theater. 


The screen is next placed on a special unspooling device that will allow the screen to be carefully unspooled across the theater seats, which are covered in plastic to protect the screen from damage. The unfurled screen is then raised into position by riggers and stretched into place.

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