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You win or you IMAX: 'Game of Thrones' coming to movie theatres

Scheming nobles, dragons and lopped-off heads will appear the size of houses when the HBO show arrives on the biggest of screens.

HBO

Winter is coming to the biggest screen. Episodes of "Game of Thrones" are to be screened at US IMAX theatres at the end of this month as a prelude to the smash hit fantasy show's fifth season.

US cable channel HBO has formed an alliance with IMAX to show two episodes of the show along with a trailer for the new season in 150 theatres across the US. Screenings will last for a week, from 23 to 29 January. Apparently it's the first TV show to be shown in the IMAX format.

The episodes to be screened in theatres are the final two from the fourth season, originally shown in June depicting the Battle of Castle Black and the series finale. The new series is set to air in April, when HBO is also rumoured to be launching an online viewing service.

"Game of Thrones" is based on the "Song of Ice and Fire" novels of George R. R. Martin, telling the story of rival families chopping each other's heads off over the throne of the fantasy kingdom of Westeros. Largely filmed in Croatia, Northern Ireland and Morocco, the hugely popular show features Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey alongside everybody in Britain with an Equity card and a working phone number.

IMAX screens typically measure around 72ft by 53ft. The world's largest IMAX screen, in Sydney, Australia, measures 117ft by 97ft.

Special equipment is used to shoot especially for the IMAX format. The 65mm cameras required are cumbersome and noisy so aren't well suited to filming actors talking. This makes them impractical for shooting a whole film. Sections of some films have been shot using IMAX equipment, however, including action scenes in the "Dark Knight" and " Mission: Impossible" films. The episodes of "Game of Thrones" in question will be digitally re-mastered for the larger screen.

Other TV shows to have episodes shown on the big screen include "Doctor Who", which celebrated its 50th anniversary with simultaneous screenings of the anniversary episode in cinemas around the world. Meanwhile the theatrical release of multiple episodes - creating a feature-length presentation - goes back at least to "The Man from UNCLE" in the 1960s, with the pilot episodes of "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" and the original "Battlestar Galactica" released in theatres in the late 1970s to cash in on "Star Wars" mania.