We’re one week away from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Many people already have their tickets and if you don’t, don’t worry, there are lots still available. It’s gonna be on nearly 4,000 screens domestically, but only a small number of those are in the ideal formats.

You see, director J.J. Abrams shot at least one scene of the film in full screen, 70mm IMAX, meaning IMAX is undoubtedly the best way to see the movie. But it’s not as simple as just going to an IMAX theater.

Of the nearly one thousand IMAX screens across the world showing The Force Awakens, a large percentage of them are just a standard digital projection. A large percentage of those have a smaller aspect ratio. All of them will look or sound absolutely great but they aren’t the best way to see the film, according to Abrams. Nor is it the format he shot in.

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“As someone who really hasn’t been the most vocal advocate of 3D, the strangest thing happened to me on this,” Abrams told The Associated Press. “When I was watching the reels in 3D, there were a number of shots — and I know this sounds insane — that I hadn’t understood in the three-dimensional space quite the way I did when I saw them in 3D. I actually felt that there were things that were playing better in 3D. I had never felt that before. And if people have access to a theater that has laser projection, it is shockingly better.”

“You cannot compare a traditionally projected image with a laser image,” he continues. “The blacks are true blacks. It’s almost as if you have to adjust to it.”

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Laser projection is the next evolution in digital projection. In the projector, about 100 lasers shoot off almost a million tiny mirror to create an image that’s 60% brighter than traditional film projection. (Film itself is usually brighter than digital if shown correctly). It just creates a better picture overall in both 3D and 2D.

However, laser is a young technology. Only 7 theaters in North America and 7 theaters internationally will be showing Star Wars with 3D IMAX Laser projection. In North America there’s TCL Chinese Theatres IMAX – Hollywood, AMC Metreon 16 & IMAX – San Francisco, AMC Universal CityWalk Stadium 19 & IMAX – Universal City, Sunbrella IMAX 3D Theatre, Jordan’s Furniture Reading – Reading, Scotiabank Toronto & IMAX – Toronto, Airbus IMAX, Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center – Chantilly, Boeing IMAX and the Pacific Science Center – Seattle

Internationally there’s the IMAX, Melbourne Museum – Australia, Event Cinemas Queen Street IMAX – New Zealand, VOX Cinemas & IMAX - UAE, Cinestar Berlin & IMAX - Germany,Filmpalast AM ZKM IMAX - Germany, Empire Leicester Square IMAX – United Kingdom and Cineworld Sheffield & IMAX – United Kingdom.

And even though Abrams advocates laser, he didn’t shoot the film digitally or in 3D. He shot it on film and in 2D. So maybe you want to see the movie in that format. However, only 15 theaters in North American and 2 internationally are showing the film in 70mm film, 2D IMAX.

Those are the McWane Center IMAX Dome Theatre – Birmingham, IMAX, U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville, Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum – San Jose, Museum of Discovery & Science AutoNation IMAX – Ft. Lauderdale, IMAX Dome, Museum of Science & Industry – Tampa, IMAX, Indiana State Museum - Indianapolis, Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center of Iowa – Des Moines, Branson’s IMAX, Entertainment Complex – Branson, St. Louis Science Center OMNIMAX Theatre – St. Louis, Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute– Philadelphia, Kramer IMAX, Saskatchewan Science Centre - Regina, Lockheed Martin IMAX, National Air & Space Museum - Washington DC, Omni Fort Worth Museum of Science & History – Fort Worth then internationally, the LG IMAX, Darling Harbour – Sydney, Australia and The Science Museum - London, England.

So, basically, there are 29 theaters worldwide showing Star Wars: The Force Awakens either in the format Abrams shot in, 70mm 2D IMAX, or the format he advocates, 3D IMAX Laser.

For the full lists, and to read more about each format as well as special giveaways, visit the IMAX website.

[Associated Press]


Contact the author at germain@io9.com.