Because the movie industry employs some of the best advertisers on planet earth, the marketing of “premium theater experiences” always sounds life-changing.
From the “multisensory signature effects” of 4DX, to the “revolutionary immersive format” of ScreenX, to the “exacting standards to create total impressiveness” at IMAX, movie theater chains sure aren’t afraid to brag about their products.
But, the terminology gets confusing, and theatergoers never get to see the specifications of these “premium” theaters. Each theater claims to have the best screens, most immersive audio, and most comfortable recliners — but how is any of this really measured?
Thankfully, there is some decent information available online when it comes to the behemoth movie theater brands like AMC, Cinemark, and Regal. Sadly, smaller chains like Cineplex don’t get discussed as much, so it is hard to get solid information on Cineplex Ultra AVX.
Here, we will answer the always-important question, “Is Ultra AVX worth the money?“
Cineplex is somewhat unknown here in the States but is actually one of the top 5 movie theater chains (by theater count) in North America.
The Toronto-based company offers a number of premium experiences like IMAX, 4DX, and ScreenX that can be found at other theater chains. However, Cineplex also offers Ultra AVX (sometimes stylized as UltraAVX), which is a premium large format experience that is unique to Cineplex.
Ultra AVX is just the Cineplex-branded name for a theater with enhanced sound, comfortable reclining seats, and an oversized screen. This service is similar to Cinemark XD, Regal RPX, and Marcus Theatres UltraScreen DLX.
For the increased features (better screen, seats, and sound), you pay a few dollars extra versus a standard ticket.
Ultra AVX vs. IMAX
Comparing anything to IMAX is challenging because there are 2 different IMAX theater types — “true” 70 mm projectors (which are rare) and “fake” Digital IMAX theaters (which are everywhere).
If you are within driving distance of a real IMAX theater which uses 70 mm projectors, this is probably the best moviegoing experience available. But if your only local “IMAX” is a digital IMAX (a.k.a. “lie-MAX), then the competition between Ultra AVX vs. IMAX is much closer.
Generally speaking, Ultra AVX is pretty similar to a digital IMAX. Ultra AVX has an oversized screen which will be larger than a standard Cineplex theater screen. Some Ultra AVX theaters — but not all — have Dolby Atmos, so the sound quality will be high at these theaters.
IMAX has the signature IMAX aspect ratio, whereas Ultra AVX has the same aspect ratio as a standard theater (the same as Cinemark XD, Regal RPX, Marcus UltraScreen DLX, etc.). Ultimately, you should choose between Ultra AVX and Digital IMAX based on the convenience of the theater location and the comfort of the seats.
My personal opinion is that an Ultra AVX with Dolby Atmos provides a better cinema experience than a digital IMAX. Generally, the recliners will be more comfortable at a Cineplex Ultra AVX. And audio in an Ultra AVX with Dolby Atmos will sound better than a digital IMAX, regardless of what the IMAX marketing says.
Because the screen sizes aren’t uniform, there is no way of knowing which screen will be larger. So you will have to watch a movie in both theaters in order to find out.
Ultra AVX vs. Cinemark XD
Cinemark XD sounds more impressive, with its 70 foot screens and 11.1 channel surround system.
However, the 70 foot screen refers to the diagonal measurement of the screen, rather than a screen that is actually 70 feet long. And the 11.1 channel surround system (despite its THX Certification) actually can’t compete with the Dolby Atmos that is found in many Ultra AVX theaters.
Both Cinemark XD and Ultra AVX have comfortable reclining seats.
It isn’t possible to definitively say that either Cinemark XD or Ultra AVX is “better” than the other. Fortunately, since most locations won’t have access to both (since Cinemark is U.S.-based and Cineplex is Canada-based), you really shouldn’t ever have to decide.
Ultra AVX vs. RPX
Regal RPX generally costs more than a ticket to an Ultra AVX theater. And the characteristics between each of these premium offerings are pretty similar.
It isn’t possible to definitively say that either Cinemark XD or Ultra AVX is “better” than the other. Fortunately, since most locations won’t have access to both, you really shouldn’t ever have to decide.
A Note on “Premium” Theaters in General
In a discussion of Ultra AVX, UltraScreen DLX, IMAX, RPX, 4DX, D-BOX, or Dolby Cinema, there is one thing you should know — advertising tactics of “premium movie theaters” are essentially the wild west.
Premium movie experiences aren’t like nutrition labels, which have a regulatory body overseeing and fact-checking their claims. Instead, every theater chain can make any claim they wish without any fear of it being debunked or disproven.
Generally, the theaters are factually correct in their claims. For example, when Cinemark XD claims to be 11.1 surround sound compatible, it is true that their sound system has 11 channels.
However, the theaters also tend to be misleading in terms of whether or not their fancy technologies provide any benefit to the viewers.
For example, XD’s 11.1 surround sound compatible speakers aren’t really providing the intended experience of 11 channels unless you are watching one of the very, very few movies that was mixed in the Auro 11.1 format.
So Cinemark won’t tell you that their Auro 11.1 sounds worse than 7.1 Dolby Atmos — they will just market the fact that “11 is more than 7, so it must be better.”
IMAX has taken some heat from purists for their “lie-MAX” theaters. These theaters are basically a lower-quality and/or smaller screen digital version of film rather than the 70mm film on massive screens that made IMAX theaters the gold standard more than a decade ago. Basically, IMAX established itself as the best, and then downgraded quality in most of their theaters without telling anybody.
Beyond all of this, movie theaters are now using 2K projectors, 4K projectors, 70 mm projectors, or dual projectors (two 2K projectors equals “4K” in advertising!) without explicitly telling viewers which technology they are watching.
All of this is to say that, unless you really take a deep dive into the particulars of your nearby movie theater, you won’t know exactly what you are watching. Some viewers even resort to calling the theater and asking for audio and visual details.
A better choice is to open your eyes and ears and decide whether or not the audio and visual meets your standards. If not, just try another theater next time!
Cineplex Theatres Claims vs. Reality
Any “premium” theater experience (sometimes called premium large format, or PLF) boils down to the seats, screen, and audio.
Let’s see how Cineplex Ultra AVX stacks up.
This is a subjective topic. A leather seat that is comfortable for one moviegoer may be so horrible that it prompts somebody else to leave a bad review.
Cineplex advertises “reserved seating in larger rocker seats.” Most users will agree that the seats are large, comfortable, and have a good range of motion on the recliner. Legroom is also more spacious than a typical theater.
We also give Cineplex credit for a quality online ordering system. Each auditorium has a seat map that displays while you are ordering a ticket, which allows you to choose your seats wisely. It also shows you the number of seats available, location of aisles and handicap seats, and the location and availability of D-BOX seats..
Like many theater chains’ “best theater in the house” offering (Cinemark XD, Regal RPX, etc.), there isn’t much uniformity in screen size.
Cineplex advertises a “massive” screen, but “massive” doesn’t exactly translate to a screen size specification. As mentioned above, the screen is just “the biggest screen in the house,” rather than a set size.
The projectors are crisp and clear, but again there is some variation based on the theater, the projector, and the bulbs. On average, an Ultra AVX projector will look about as good as an RPX, XD, or Digital IMAX projector. However, there are still some good screens and some bad — and you won’t be able to tell which is which until you see it in person.
In the Ultra AVX theaters that feature Dolby Atmos, sound quality is excellent. This is almost a guarantee.
In the other Ultra AVX theaters, which don’t have Dolby Atmos, sound quality is a mixed bag. You really don’t know the specifications of the audio in the non-Atmos theaters, so it can still vary from one location to the next.
Obviously, if you have the option you should choose an Ultra AVX theater with Dolby Atmos rather than one without. And thankfully Cineplex has a good website and online ordering process, so you will easily be able to tell whether or not your chosen showtime has Atmos.
How big is an Ultra AVX screen?
This question cannot be answered definitively. Ultra AVX has a “massive” screen (according to Cineplex), but no dimensions are given.
The screens are oversized and will be larger than a standard Cineplex theater. But there is no way to be certain of the exact screen size of a particular theater.
What is the best seat in a Ultra AVX theater?
The best seat is closest to the center of the theater (see here for our detailed guide to choosing a theater seat).
You want to be in the middle of the theater from a right-left perspective (in other words, as far from the aisle as possible). And you also want to be centered from a front-back perspective (in other words, not in the front row nor the back row).
Importantly, you should avoid the first two rows closest to the screen. These are uncomfortable seats in any theater, but especially a theater with an oversized screen.
It is better to sit in the farthest back row rather than the farthest front row, but neither is ideal. If you sit too close to the back of the theater, the screen will appear smaller, the rear speakers will overpower, and you will lose the “immersive” theater experience. It will also be a waste of the extra couple dollars you spent to watch the movie on an oversized screen.
If there aren’t many seats remaining when you book, and you get stuck in a corner, aim for one of the back corners rather than a front corner. A front corner seat is incredibly unpleasant. Before booking a seat in the front corner (or anywhere in the front row), I would just buy a ticket for a different night or a different theater.
So, is Ultra AVX worth it?
For action movies and movies that rely heavily on sound and visual effects, Ultra AVX is absolutely worth the additional expense.
For comedies and movies that you are only watching because you couldn’t think of any other date night itinerary, I would probably save the money and purchase a standard ticket instead.
Ultra AVX, like all “premium movie experiences,” is more marketing than actual substance.
However, many moviegoers find the premium theater to be worthwhile just due to the larger screen and more comfortable chairs.
When you add in the Dolby Atmos sound that is present in many Ultra AVX theaters, it might be worthwhile to choose Ultra AVX — regardless of whether or not you believe the marketing hype about how many billions of different colors you can see on the “massive” screen.