IMAX isn't just for space walkers, deep sea dwellers and rainforest critters anymore. Superman Returns is the latest Hollywood film to simultaneously screen in conventional theaters and the extra-large format once best known for nature documentaries. Apollo 13 was the first blockbuster to hit the very big screen in 2002, but IMAX struck its most sizable box-office jackpot with a 3-D version of 2004's The Polar Express, which grossed over $45 million domestically in two releases. What's the draw? "With bigger TV screens, video games and DVDs, the public wants something different to get off the couch," IMAX co-CEO Richard Gelfond says. For Superman, IMAX audiences will put on glasses to view four 3-D scenes totaling 20 minutes, including a rescue sequence with a plummeting plane.
Who will be next to fight evil in 3-D? Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, due in 2007, will likely have 3-D segments, insiders say, and execs are mulling the idea for Spider-Man 3. And IMAX has three animated 3-D films on tap later this year: The Ant Bully, Open Season and Happy Feet. Then there's the wish list. "I think you'll see some rereleases in 3-D," Gelfond says. "My personal favorite would be Indiana Jones. Or E.T."