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Disney Plus to add IMAX Enhanced aspect ratio to 13 Marvel movies

IMAX Enhanced on Disney Plus
(Image credit: DIsney)

As part of its Disney Plus Day celebrations on November 12th, The Walt Disney Company has announced a new partnership with IMAX and DTS that will bring IMAX Enhanced to the popular streaming platform.

The IMAX Enhanced format will be supported across several Marvel movies, including the Disney Plus premier of Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, with subscribers able to view the films in IMAX’s expanded aspect ratio of 1:90:1. While limited to only 13 titles initially, Disney has said that it will offer more IMAX Enhanced functionality in the future, including immersive sound from DTS.

So what difference will you actually see? While most Marvel films are generally presented in the ultra-wide, letterbox-style 2.39:1 aspect ratio (because wide = epic, naturally) many also contain action sequences and big set pieces that were shot in the taller 1.90:1 with the intention of being seen that way in IMAX theatres. 

When watching at home viewers will notice the black bars across the top and bottom of the screen will shrink, filling the TV screen with 26% more picture, and bringing the image closer to the filmmaker's original cinematic release.

More than just an aspect ratio, IMAX Enhanced is actually an AV certification programme (similar to Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound), in partnership with DTS, designed to guarantee that both the kit you're using and the content you're watching is delivering the best picture and sound quality. It promises "clearer pictures and brighter images" through IMAX digitally re-mastered 4K HDR and the DTS:X 3D audio codec. Sony's Bravia CORE streaming service has a sizeable catalogue of IMAX Enhanced titles but at present few other streaming services support the format.

On Disney Plus, IMAX Enhanced content will be signified with a badge and searchable by using the term ‘IMAX’ or the new IMAX Enhanced filter. While these movies will automatically play in IMAX’s expanded aspect ratio, some titles will also receive a new ‘Versions’ tab where you can choose between IMAX Enhanced or Widescreen. This will also include a description indicating if the screen-filling aspect ratio is used in selected sequences or is available throughout the entire movie. As reported by Engadget, IMAX Enhanced films will also support Dolby Vision, HDR10, 4K and Dolby Atmos sound.

The new feature will be available to all Disney Plus subscribers and should be compatible with any supported device from November 12th (aka Disney Plus Day), when standard tier subscribers will be treated to new content, including movies, shows, and Marvel and Star Wars specials, as well as access to Jungle Cruise and Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings at no extra cost.

While content availability will vary by region, the full 13 titles IMAX Enhanced available at launch are:

  • Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings
  • Iron Man
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Doctor Strange
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Black Panther
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp
  • Captain Marvel
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Black Widow

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Mary is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and has over a decade of experience working as a sound engineer mixing live events, music and theatre.