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What Is An XD Movie? 3 Things You Need To Know Before!

Jamey Muller
Updated: July 6, 2022
5 min read

XD movies are premium options for cinema-goers looking for an improved audio and visual experience.

Read on to find out if your trip to the XD theater is worth the extra expense.

Here’s What an XD Movie Is:

With an XD theater format, moviegoers enjoy wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor screen, pristine images, and crisp digital sound, all the while reclining in plush, comfortable seats. Of course, these upgrades come with a price tag, as tickets generally cost more than those of regular movies.

XD stands for Extreme Digital, a technology introduced by Cinemark theaters in 2009. Upgrades have been added in the succeeding years.

Cinemark partnered with JBL for its sound system and Doremi Labs and Barco Technology for its server and digital projector to deliver the best immersive experience.

While exact sizes vary, Cinemark XD screens are the largest in the multiplex, with 4K projection and brightness levels ideal for 3D films.

Most Cinemark XD theaters also offer 11.1 surround sound. This means you will be listening to 11 speakers playing soundtracks from different directions, plus one bass subwoofer.


Is an XD Movie Worth It?

Definitely. While you will be paying more than usual, you get to watch a movie in a large, spacious theater with ideal viewing angles and high-quality audio. If these upgrades still do not convince you, the cozy reclining seats definitely will.

Cinemark XD’s oversize screens are powered by 4K projectors, so there is no loss of clarity even with a 70-foot screen. Coupled with immersive audio, thanks to an 11.1 multi-channel surround system, you will get what you paid for.

Cinemark XD theaters are THX certified, which means they set the standards for the visual and audio commitment of entertainment experiences. THX is an acclaimed brand that has been around for more than 30 years, providing certifications for first-rate cinema and studios.

Premium seating is central to the XD experience. Chairs can be reclined independently, with high backs for head support and footrest. The Luxury Loungers by Cinemark even have electric-powered oversized lounge chairs.

Moreover, XD theaters have one of the top-rated seat simulators in the industry for an unparalleled multi-sensory experience. The seats move with the scenes so you feel more absorbed with what you are watching.

So, yes. XD movies are worth the extra bucks, especially for movies featuring action and profound special effects.

Are XD and IMAX the Same?

No, they are not. XD and IMAX are similar in many ways so it makes sense that the two theaters are often compared. Both offer large screens, excellent visual and audio, and comfortable seats.

In terms of longevity, IMAX has the older technology that most digital theaters worldwide use. XD was introduced to the public in 2009 but has quickly gained traction. It is currently available in around 600 theaters around the world.

XD boasts of a more spacious and beautifully designed interior, with uniquely colored carpets and walls. The infrastructures are also newer. Many movie connoisseurs attest that the air-conditioning system is better in XD theater than IMAX.

While IMAX’s seats are also padded and comfortable, they do not provide a hyper-real 3D experience the way XD’s do. The seats remain inert. If you have already experienced the simulated seats in XD, the IMAX experience may pale in comparison.

Both theater screens are around 70 feet tall. However, XD stretches from wall to wall, ceiling to floor, and produces 35 trillion colors.

IMAX also has a large screen, but the aspect ratio is maintained at either 1.43:1 or 1.90:1. Its film format is 70mm that goes through a horizontal projector, covering an area larger than most film formats.

The projector used for XD is 4k, while IMAX uses 2k or 4k dual laser projectors. XD has the extra upgrade of digital stereoscopic technology. It is also the screen most commonly used for concerts and live sports.

IMAX specializes in having excellent precision with detailing and size, as well as brightness. The theater’s linear polarization technology offers a one-of-a-kind visual experience, producing superior picture quality. Movie creators utilize advanced camera setup compatible with IMAX’s screen technology. 

However, XD provides a better 3D and reactive experience due to its seat simulator.

For the sound system, XD’s custom JBL speakers produce clear and crisp audio. It also uses Barco and Auro sound solutions for a real immersive effect. 

Compared to XD's 11.1 multi-channel surround sound system, IMAX has 12 channels adjusted at accurate angles for the audience's immersion in both scenes and dialogues.

IMAX utilizes digital sound DDP made by Sonics to deliver the highest quality sound possible. Its sound effects are considered the best among the competition for a long time. IMAX’s sound system is also installed and monitored by specialized sound engineers

For the price, IMAX movies cost more than XD depending on location.

There are no bad seats in XD theaters as every chair are positioned in acceptable viewing angles. You will not get a crick in the neck even if you are seated in front. 

Meanwhile, IMAX seats are closer to the screen. Not all seats are equal. Many moviegoers vouch for the center seats for the best immersive experience.

Ultimately, the choice is between XD’s better accommodations and 3D experience and IMAX’s elite picture and sound effects quality. You just decide depending on your preference.

Can You Watch All Movies in XD?

XD theaters are designed to play any movie format. Unlike IMAX which caters only to films shot in IMAX format, XD allows you to watch digital, 2D, 3D, and even IMAX films. 

While you can watch many movies in XD, you should reserve it for those that show off the pluses of an XD theater. 

Those that involve intense action and larger-than-life special effects are best watched in XD so you can appreciate them more.

3D films are best viewed in XD as the theaters feature simulated seats that move with the scenes projected.

XD allows movies to be played with crystal clear images on a larger screen, with high-quality audio for the ultimate movie experience.

The amenities provided are heaps better than those offered by local theaters. Of course, you pay more for the upgrades.


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Written by
Jamey Muller
I'm the head-writer @ Knowledge Eager (or, in plain English, I'm the guy writing the majority of the content here). Addicted to the stock market, football, sushi and tacos.
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Jamey Muller
I'm the head-writer @ Knowledge Eager (or, in plain English, I'm the guy writing the majority of the content here). Addicted to the stock market, football, sushi and tacos.