This Week in the Mercury


Thursday, September 12, 2013

So Here's What's Happening at OMSI

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 3:29 PM

"The theater is scheduled to reopen in mid- to late November," says OMSI's associate vice president of retail, Russ Repp. Following some rumors and vague statements about OMSI's currently closed dome theater, we've finally got some details.

OMSI's new movie screen will be flat rather than curved—with final dimensions, according to Repp, of between "60-65 feet wide and 33-36 feet high." That'll make OMSI's new screen quite a bit larger than most screens in the area. (For those keeping track, OMSI's new screen will be only a little smaller than the biggest screen in the greater Portland area—the fancy-pants Cinetopia Progress Ridge theater, deep in the Beaverton suburbs, has a screen that's 70 feet wide—and about the same size as the IMAX-branded screen at Regal's Lloyd Cinemas, which is 60 feet wide and 36 feet tall.)

As I've told many a lady, though, size isn't the only thing that matters. Here's some more info about what OMSI's theater will look like (and sound like) when it opens in a couple of months.

According to Repp, prices will remain "largely the same" at $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for kids and seniors. That's a lot cheaper than both Regal and Cinetopia—which is relevant since OMSI will be booking mainstream movies. "Educational programming will continue to account for upwards of 70 percent of our theater schedule," Repp wrote in an email. "OMSI's emphasis will remain on science and nature documentaries during regular museum hours. Hollywood features will be limited to evening hours and occasional daytime shows."

Meanwhile, according to OMSI's PR manager Amita Joshi, the renovated theater will feature a Dolby Atmos sound system (the only other place that's currently available locally is at the Cinetopia in the Vancouver Mall, where it costs extra). Other than that, expect 2D and 3D digital projection at the levels that most of Portland's theaters have already been forced to upgrade to, at 4K resolution.

It's perhaps worth nothing that the Mercury's recently heard some rumblings of strife at OMSI over the past year, resulting from both layoffs and developments such as the theater's renovation. We'll update if and when we know more on that front. But in the meantime—and purely from a film perspective—I have a hard time seeing how OMSI moving to what's likely to be a more profitable and engaging theater set-up, while also maintaining its current programming, can be a bad thing. That goes for both the museum and for Portland moviegoers.

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