Waco film fans who’ve itched to see the richer visuals and sound of an IMAX presentation no longer have to drive to Temple’s Premiere Cinema for the nearest screen. As some filmgoers to AMC Classic Galaxy 16 started discovering late last month, that multiplex now has an IMAX screen. The theater, formerly known as Starplex Galaxy 16, now officially is AMC Classic Galaxy 16.

Ryan Noonan, director of corporate communications for AMC Theatres, recently confirmed the Waco multiplex has installed a digital IMAX in its largest auditorium to give a movie screening with brighter, sharper images and clearer sound than standard digital projection.

The IMAX upgrade moved the screen closer to audience seating and expanded it to both walls, floor and ceiling. Rather than rely on 70mm film as the original film-driven IMAX systems do, IMAX’s digital system uses two digital projectors to overlay an image that’s brighter and more detailed that standard digital projection. Accompanying the visual upgrade is a six-channel IMAX sound system. The IMAX system will project 3-D films, and presently one showing of “Transformers: The Last Knight” is screening in IMAX 3D at AMC Classic Galaxy 16.

Noonan said there are no plans to expand IMAX to more than one screen at AMC Classic Galaxy 16.

A spokesman for Waco’s other multiplex movie theater, Regal Jewel 16, could not be reached for comment. Local film and audiovisual directors said that while the digital IMAX doesn't have the same visual intensity and immersivity as true film IMAX, with its much taller screens, 4:3 image ratio (closer to a square than rectangle) and larger film stock, there's still a qualitative difference in what filmgoers will see.

"(Digital IMAX) is very much a different animal . . . but the short version is it's sharper and bigger," said Greg Jurls, multimedia director for the Dwyer Group and owner of Hero Video Productions.

Filmmaker and videographer Damon Crump, owner/producer/director of Jackalope Productions, still drives to Austin or Dallas for a true IMAX experience when there's an IMAX film he wants to see, but admits he's a die-hard film lover and respects the initial image and presentation standards with which IMAX started.

Still, he and his sons recently saw "The Mummy" on Classic Galaxy 16's IMAX screen and found it an improvement. "The screen is brighter and the sound better," he said. "The presentation is better, but it's more expensive, too." 

Jurls also checked out the new IMAX screen after it debuted locally. "I saw 'Wonder Woman' and it was awesome," he said.

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor