Moviegoing was not a popular activity in 2014. In fact, Hollywood saw its bleakest ticket sales in two decades. Meanwhile, television is still enjoying its golden age.
So you can see the logic with HBO and IMAX announcing they are putting the last two episodes of Season 4 of “Game of Thrones” on the big screen: If no one is bothering to go to see the latest generic superhero flick because they’d rather stay home and watch a quality series, why not just bring a popular TV show to the theaters?
The episodes, “The Watchers on the Wall” and “The Children,”will screen for one week at 150 IMAX theaters beginning Jan. 23. (Big thanks to IMAX for not opting to screen “The Mountain and the Viper,” which was hard enough to watch on a screen that was far less than six stories tall.)
Fans of “Game of Thrones” have already seen these episodes, of course, so it was smart to go with some of the more recent shows as a kind of refresher before Season 5 begins in the spring. “The Watchers on the Wall” was also a particularly action-heavy episode, with giants and beasts going up against the Night’s Watch during the Battle of Castle Black. And the fight to the death (almost) between Brienne and the Hound in “The Children” should play nicely on a big screen. The only bit of newness IMAX-goers will get is a full Season 5 trailer, which will no doubt be leaked to YouTube soon after anyway.
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Some shows would play better on a big screen, and certainly “Game of Thrones” is a more worthy option than, say, “The Big Bang Theory.” The cinematography of the HBO series is stellar and the settings are spectacular. But the strategy also feels like a sad commentary on the state of movies. If Hollywood wasn’t churning out so much middling and derivative material that no one is buying tickets to see, IMAX probably wouldn’t feel the need to lure moviegoers to theaters with already-aired episodes of a television series.
| Stephanie Merry
The Washington Post