Rolling Stones movie at IMAX -- Why some U.S. cultural institutions won't show the film

Old rock bands never die, they just join the brontosauruses. At least that’s what Mick and the boys are trying to do. Rolling Stones at the Max, a movie of the group’s 1990 Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle tour, is now headlining at L.A.’s California Museum of Science and Industry, and at IMAX venues in Toronto, Rotterdam, Brussels, and Paris. But several venerable U.S. institutions of culture, including New York City’s American Museum of Natural History and the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., won’t commit to booking the racier-than-usual film.

Fans are not thrilled. The Denver Museum of Natural History was deluged with phone calls after a newspaper columnist implored readers to protest the museum’s decision not to screen the movie. ”We’ve received 500 calls and 400 have been positive about showing the film,” says Kent Krudwig, the museum’s director of marketing. But he still has reservations. ”We’re an educational institution, and I’m not sure it qualifies on that count.”

Why is Jagger strutting his stuff on screens ordinarily used for science films? Because the tour was filmed in IMAX, and nature museums are often the only venues equipped for that gigantic format. IMAX images are 10 times the size of those of standard 35 mm film, projected on screens that can be eight stories high, with sound amplified on six channels. Besides, rockers who’ve been around for 30-odd years must qualify as some kind of archaeological phenomenon.