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Cedar Rapids IMAX Theatre Is Closing

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CEDAR RAPIDS - A unique movie theatre in Cedar Rapids will no longer welcome movie-goers. The same threat surfaced more than a year ago, but this time, it's actually happening.

One year ago this month, the Cedar Rapids Science Station the IMAX Theatre announced they were staying open. Wednesday, the science station board said the IMAX is closing. There wasn't enough foot traffic, and there were too many changes in technology.

The IMAX Theatre, nestled next to the Science Station, gives the term "big screen" a whole new meaning.

"Yea, it was huge," says five-year-old Wyatt Goodale.

The theatre's screen size fascinated first-time visitor Wyatt. Wednesday, he and his mom saw the cowboy movie, "Ride Around the World."

"It was a good movie," says Wyatt.

But memories of good movies are making an exit. Workers will tear the last IMAX tickets later this month. The theatre closes for good January 20.

"I was hoping to come back more often now that I know about it," says Wyatt's mom Eden Hall.

Return trips to the theatre won't be possible mainly because of a shift in technology. To stay competitive in the film industry, theatres are having to convert to digital 3D upgrade not designed for dome-shaped theatres, like this one. And local sponsors won't foot the bill for a new one.

"They said that's not something we will put our energy into, but we're interested in the exhibitry," says Dan Thies, Science Station Board President.

They're interested in beefing up the bigger money maker, in bringing new exhibits to the science station, and in bringing back the station's mission.

"We want to focus our energy and all of our resources on delivering the science station's core mission which is hands-on math and science learning," says Thies.

Learning to let go of the IMAX theatre won't be easy for regular movie-goers, and even new visitors like Wyatt and his mom, but the anticipation of new attractions will bring them back.

The Cedar Rapids Science Center owns the theatre building, so the leaders are trying to figure out ways to incorporate the theatre with the science station's learning philosophy. But the projection and the sound equipment will all be going back to the IMAX company.