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Creationist sentiments affect Imax business strategy

Tuesday, March 22, 2005 Imax cinemas in several southern US states have begun to refuse screening of films that deal with evolution and the big bang, fearing they will drive away customers. This step follows pressure from customers claiming such films are blasphemous to the Christian religion and are counter to biblical teachings which fundamentalists take to be the literal word of God.

Some of the affected cinemas are located in science museums often visited by families. Carol Murray, the marketing director of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Texas, commented that trial customers complained, "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," a view reflected by several others. Conversely, a producer of an Imax film entitled Volcanoes of the Deep Sea, James Cameron, said that he was "surprised and somewhat offended" at some of the reactions.

Films suppressed by this controversy include Cosmic Voyage (which deals with the big bang), Galapagos (dealing with the development of evolutionary theory by Darwin) and Volcanoes of the Deep Sea (about deep-sea thermophiles).

Although this move only affects about a dozen Southern US cinemas, it has proved significant due to the manner in which Imax operates. Imax presentations are filmed and projected using specialized equipment in specially adapted theatres. Imax films also have tight production and marketing budgets. At any one time, an Imax film may be shown at only two dozen locations. As such, profits may be significantly reduced if just a few locations refuse to show a given film, swaying producers to avoid producing films on contentious subjects which may be construed by Christian fundamentalists as blasphemous.

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