Cinemark xd vs imax- where to watch movies in 2023?

The cinema is one of the businesses that were hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related health measures. Now that we are finally getting out of it, it’s time to celebrate by going to see a movie.

In this article, we’ll explain the differences between Cinemark XD vs IMAX and which cinema technology is better.

Cinemark XD vs IMAX

Cinemark XD and IMAX are two of the most popular movie theater formats. So which movie theater is better? Cinemark XD vs IMAX? Check out this comparison of Cinemark XD and IMAX to find out for yourself.

Cinemark XD vs IMAX – Which is better?

Comparison ParameterCinemark XDIMAX
Film FormatPlays any film format out there, including IMAX.Plays only movies made in IMAX.
Screen size70 feet tall screens, stretching from floor to roof.“True” IMAX screens are also 70 feet and above. However, LIE-IMAX is usually 50 or so feet tall.
ProjectorsUses 4K laser projectors.Newer IMAX uses 4K dual laser projectors, but some older ones still use 2K projectors.
Sound11.1 channel surround sound.12 channel surround sound.
Seat comfortSpacious leather seats with headrests, footrests and recliners.Padded seats adjustable at height.

What is Cinemark XD?

Cinemark XD
Cinemark XD

Cinemark XD is an audio and video film format that was introduced in 2009 by an American theater chain, Cinemark Holding. It features extra large screens, top-notch picture quality and 3D movies and is one of the biggest IMAX competitors today.

Cinemark XD screens are typically 70 feet tall and can produce 35 trillion colors. They are also capable of showing both 2D and 3D movies, while using 4K laser projectors and Digital stereoscopic technology.

When it comes to audio, Cinemark XD uses 11.1 multi-channel audio systems and Auro 11.1 cinema surround format, developed by Barco. It should be noted, however, that most films use Dolby Atmos as the industry standard, so Auro 11.1 is the minority.

Related Read: Our Cinemark XD vs Sony Digital Cinema comparison

What is IMAX?


IMAX is a household name when it comes to cinemas as it is available in over 80 different countries and has more than 1500 theaters. 

The format itself debuted in 1971 at the Cinesphere Theater at Ontario Place, Toronto, Canada, with the movie “North of Superior.”

IMAX theaters typically use 2K laser projectors, with more modern ones using 4K projectors (they ditched the old-school lamp projectors a long time ago).

The IMAX screen is between 70 and 100 feet tall (in other words, floor-to-ceiling in most theaters) and is 50+ feet wide, with a screen aspect ratio of 1:90:1.

When it comes to sound, IMAX uses a 12-channel sound surround system, providing excellent and crystal sound throughout its theaters.

IMAX vs Cinemark XD – Differences

There are a lot of similarities but also differences between Cinemark XD vs IMAX, so we’ll take a look at those next.

If you’d like to know how IMAX compares against other technologies, like Dolby, check out our Dolby Cinema vs IMAX review.


Perhaps the biggest difference between Cinemark XD and IMAX is in the format they play in theaters. While Cinemark plays almost every film format out there, including IMAX, in IMAX theaters you will only see IMAX proprietary 70mm film format.


Both have screen displays of 70 feet, though IMAX also has a few theaters with 100+ feet tall screens (the tallest is 116 feet in Sydney, Australia). One difference here is that IMAX has an aspect ratio of 1.90:1.


Whereas IMAX uses both 2K and 4K dual laser projectors, Cinemark only uses 4K laser projectors. In addition, IMAX uses its own 70mm film format, where most others use 35mm.


As we have already mentioned, IMAX uses a 12-channel sound surround system to provide great sound throughout the entire theater.

On the other hand, Cinemark XD uses Barco and Auro audio technology and an 11.1 multi-channel audio system.

Seat comfort

Cinemark XD offers comfortable seats with plenty of space. The seats have headrests, footrests and can be reclined for perfect movie enjoyment.

IMAX seats are comfortable enough and are able to be adjusted at height. The only issue is that they might be somewhat too close to the screen for someone’s liking (especially in the front row).

Cinemark XD vs IMAX Pros and Cons

Cinemark XD Pros

Large Screens

Cinemark XD screens are on average 70 feet tall, so they are quite a bit bigger than your average cinema screen (which rarely exceeds 50ft.) In addition, they also use 4K laser projectors and are capable of showing 35 trillion colors according to Cinemark.

Excellent comfort

If you’re going to visit a cinema to watch a movie instead of staying at your own house to watch Netflix (check the linked article to see how much that would cost you in terms of plans in 2023), then that cinema better have some really good seats.

And Cinemark XD has them. The seats here are very comfortable, you get a headrest and a footrest and they can also recline. All you need is a Pina Colada (sorry, they don’t serve those, but you can get a Coke and popcorn).

Very good sound

Cinemark XD theaters use Auro 11.1 sound surround system to provide a very good experience throughout the whole theater. Basically, this is a 5.1 system to which additional 5+1 (5 side and 1 overhead) speakers have been added.

Cinemark XD Cons

Auro 11.1 is not as good as Dolby Atmos

While the 11.1 channel sound is very good, it should be noted that most movies are mixed with Dolby Atmos and not Auro 11.1 that Cinemark XD uses.

In addition to that, Dolby Atmos is capable of “placing” the sound better and more accurately than Auro 11.1, which can also be a bit bass-heavy and loud.


Big screens

When compared to most other cinema screens, such as Dolby Cinema for instance, IMAX has very big screens. And big screens usually equal a better viewing experience.

Can play 2D and 3D movies

With the rising popularity of 3D movies, it’s nice to know that IMAX plays both 2D and 3D movies in its theaters.

Available across the world

IMAX is available in 80 countries and more than 1500 movie theaters. Finding one shouldn’t be a problem.


Seats are okay

While there’s nothing overly bad to say about IMAX seats, there really isn’t anything good either. They’re just “okay.” If this is enough to watch a 3+ hour movie, it is up to you.


We mentioned that IMAX normally has 70+ feet tall screens with 4K laser projectors. But that’s not always the case. Unfortunately, you might get unlucky to find a so-called “LIE-IMAX” or “fake IMAX,” which includes smaller screens (50 feet) and 2K projectors.

Also check out our RPX vs IMAX comparison to see which provides the better movie theater experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is XD worth it at Cinemark?

Most moviegoers will agree that the extra $2.50 for a ticket is well worth the experience that you will get at Cinemark XD.

Not only does Cinemark XD offer 70 feet screens from floor to ceiling, but you also get to enjoy movies in 35 trillion colors from 4K laser projectors, which provide an excellent viewing experience.

The sound is also excellent, with the Auro 11.1 sound system, though perhaps not as good as Dolby Atmos.

On top of that, the XD seating is extremely comfortable (pun intended) with reclining leather seats, with both headrests and footrests.

What is Cinemark XD movie?

Cinemark XD is a cinema auditorium introduced in 2009 by the Cinemark company. It features 70 feet floor-to-roof screens, with 4K laser projectors, capable of showing 35 trillion colors, 11.1 Auro surround sound system and comfortable seats among other things.


Cinemark XD and IMAX share a lot in common. In fact, at one point, IMAX even filed a lawsuit against Cinemark for infringing on its trade secrets, though that was dropped following a settlement.

However, the two have remained rivals to this day, always trying to outdo each other by having bigger screens, more clear image, better surround sound, more comfortable seats, or ultimately, cheaper prices.

Picking up the winner between Cinemark XD vs IMAX was not easy, but in the end, we gave the overall win to Cinemark XD on account of seat comfort and more film formats that they offer than IMAX theaters.

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About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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