Last Friday I got an email from the local IMAX, telling me about all the cool that would be showing at the theatre through October. Transformers at the IMAX? I’d go see that. Dinosaurs 3D coming soon: an exciting film as IMAX documentaries go, with hungry dinosaurs coming right at atcha. So I was looking forward to catching these, and others, at the Aquarium Wharf theatre.

Three days after the email, IMAX shut its doors – apparently for good. There’s a short message on the official website: 

With deep regret, Rivers Enterprises Real Estate, Inc. announces the closing of the Charleston IMAX Theatre Monday, September 17, 2007. After seven and a half years providing Lowcountry residents and visitors to Charleston an educational and entertaining experience, the theatre is no longer financially viable.

The loyal support of our customers, our staff, and the city has been greatly appreciated over the years. Rivers Enterprises is undertaking a complete review of its roles as part of Aquarium Wharf and looks forwards to proving enhanced services for that area in the future.

That means no more 70mm-wide helicopter shots, no more cheezy voice telling us that if we find the sensation of motion unsettling, “simply close your eyes,” and worst of all, no more screenings of NASCAR 3D. Seeing that film was an indelible part of my Charleston experience when I moved here; let’s just say that the audience was vocal in their appreciation of their favorite drivers. I was also touched when a thin-haired dweeb proposed to his wife at the theatre, his beaming face blown up to IMAX size (she said yes and the whole auditorium burst into applause).

The closure is a purely financial decision; IMAX Corp’s aren’t as strong as they’d like. But it leaves a big, sad hole in the tourist lure area of Aquarium Wharf.  And thanks for giving us some notice, guys.


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