A new in-theater trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer doesn’t just show you scenes from the movie and tell you when it opens. It also implores you, in no uncertain terms: “See It on the Biggest Screen Possible.”

“Big” is, of course, one of the things Texas does very well. But for true Nolanheads, a mere big-screen presentation is simply the table stakes. The director shot big chunks of the film on IMAX 70mm and declared the experience of watching it that way “unparalleled” to an Associated Press reporter. “You’re getting a feeling of 3-D without the glasses,” he said. The Oppenheimer reel, by the way, stretches eleven full miles and weighs more than six hundred pounds—so big that Hollywood’s famed TCL Chinese Theatre needed to rebuild its projectionist’s booth in order to contain the thing. To get a sense of what goes into a print that size, here’s a little documentary on the assembly of the Oppenheimer IMAX print. 

Only seventeen theaters in the United States are screening Oppenheimer in 70mm IMAX print. Two of them are in Texas: the AMC RiverCenter in San Antonio and the Cinemark XD and IMAX in Dallas. Other IMAX theaters in Texas project their films digitally. 

Nolan cares deeply about that difference. Will you, the casual moviegoer, be able to tell? Maybe! Digital projection can look very good—especially at a high-quality IMAX, a Dolby Cinema, or another premium format—but film has a higher resolution and a different aspect ratio than digital, which means the digital version of the film will be cropped horizontally compared to the 70mm version, a phenomenon movie nerds have taken to calling “Croppenheimer.” (The version shown in the IMAX in Austin’s Bullock Texas State History Museum, which uses a 4K laser projector, will not be cropped.)

Tickets for those premium screenings of Oppenheimer are hard to come by, though. In San Antonio, your best bet is to plan for an early matinee (or a late-night screening of the three-hour film, if you’re a night owl)—and even then, you’re likely to be in one of the first three rows of the theater, probably over to one side, staring way, way up at the massive screen. If you want one of the better seats in the house, in the center aisle and further back from the screen, you’re out of luck for now—the theater is currently only selling tickets through August 1, and even for a Tuesday matinee a week and a half after release, those seats are sold out. It’s even worse in Dallas, where every single screening for opening weekend is already completely sold out (the final late-night screening on Sunday does have a handful of spaces for wheelchair users available), and you won’t find a seat in the middle of the theater at any screening through at least August 9. 

The good news for patient Oppenheimer-iacs who want the best possible seat is that there are likely to be more tickets available at both theaters as August goes on. The next IMAX release isn’t until August 18, when Warner Bros.’ Blue Beetle hits theaters, which means there should be a few more weeks of Oppenheimer screenings—especially given that the ticket sales are so strong for the current run of dates. 

If you’re not in Dallas or San Antonio, and a trip to either city isn’t in the cards, your options are more limited. Every single digital IMAX showing at the Texas Spirit Theater is sold out through the end of July, though there are currently tickets for most of the screenings in August. That theater doesn’t assign seats in advance, so if you want one of the better spots to watch from, you’ll need to show up early. In Houston, meanwhile, there isn’t really a premiere choice. Neither of the city’s largest screens (the Wortham Giant Screen Theater at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Regal Edwards Houston Marq’E & IMAX) are showing the film—the Wortham only occasionally shows nonnature films, and the Marq’E’s IMAX is currently closed. There are plenty of additional IMAX screens around the city—and, indeed, around the state—but not all IMAX screens are created equal, and most don’t compare to those screens. Many don’t even hit fifty feet! (IMAX enthusiasts call the smaller-format screens that still use the IMAX name “Liemax.”)

Dedicated cinephiles who are going to miss out on Nolan’s 70mm vision but who still want to obey the directive to see it on the biggest screen possible have a handful of options. In addition to the screens already mentioned, there are eight other IMAX theaters in Texas, spread fairly throughout the state, that are at least seventy feet tall. Those are the Premiere Lux 15 in Bryan; the Premiere Lux Cine 17 in El Paso; the Premiere Lux 16 in Lubbock; the second digital IMAX screen at AMC RiverCenter in San Antonio (which still has plenty of tickets for this weekend’s screenings of the film); the Santikos Palladium IMAX, also in San Antonio; the Premiere 15 IMAX in Temple; and the Regal Lone Star 19 in Tomball. If you’re craving the opportunity to see the largest possible mushroom cloud this weekend and didn’t already reserve your tickets in Dallas or San Antonio, any of these will be a pretty good bet. 

Correction: (Updated August 8, 2023.) A previous version of this article referred to the Bullock IMAX theater as the Texas Spirit Theater; the Texas Spirit Theater is a separate theater within the museum. The article also did not indicate that the theater is showing the uncropped version of the film. This article has since been updated to reflect these facts.