'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Features Almost 50 Minutes Of IMAX Footage

This weekend, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is going to be the #1 movie at the box office. That's a fact. The only question is exactly how much it's going to make. $100 million? $150 million? $200 million? Fans are so rabid about the film, the sky is the limit. And while the majority of that number will be from traditional movie theaters, a percentage will be from IMAX too. In fact, director Francis Lawrence was so insistent Catching Fire be bigger than the original film, he shot the entire Games sequence with IMAX film cameras.

Having now seen the film twice, I can report the IMAX sequence is just under 50 minutes in length. While that's not the most IMAX footage ever contained in a Hollywood film (Christopher Nolan holds that record with The Dark Knight Rises and its 72 minutes of footage) no feature film has ever had that much footage in a continuous sequence. 

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is 2 hours and 26 minutes with credits. That means just about a third of the film, in sequence, was shot and is being screened in IMAX (actually, it's probably a bit more than a third if the credits are like 8-10 minutes). Once Katniss rises into the arena, the aspect ratio goes from standard to full screen IMAX. Then the entirety of the rest of the film stays like that. Of course, you'll only see this if you see it in an IMAX theater. And if you can, that's certainly the way to do it.The Dark Knight Rises and its 72 minutes was interspersed throughout the movie, changing aspect ratios depending on location and action. There are a few extended sequences, but nothing that comes close to the 49 minutes in Catching Fire. It's an ambitious, and exciting, technical achievement.

Also of note, the IMAX release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire officially makes 2013 the first time ever that two Hollywood features, shot with IMAX cameras, will be released in the same year. The other being Star Trek Into Darkness. That trend will continue in 2014 with Transformers: Age of Extinction and Interstellar.

We'll have much more on the use of IMAX in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and many other films, next week. It opens November 22.