The film looked and sounded pretty great overall until the second-to-last reel, when the film suddenly jammed. My heart stopped because I knew what was about to happen, and sure enough, the film began to burn before our eyes. The audience gasped, the projection bulb was turned off, the houselights came up. Foundas got up and explained what had happened, and said something like, "Well, there's an argument for digital projection."
Brilliant statement to make at a screening where ostensibly the theatre is running this screening in 70mm BECAUSE it is FILM and not digital. That's like saying, some idiot at MOMA tears a Monet painting and the curator says, "Well, there's an argument for lithograph copies instead of the real thing." No...there's an argument of never giving this theatre a 70mm print. On the 35mmforum blog someone chastised me because I pointed out all the problems with the Walter Reade theatre's 70mm presentation of ITS A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD and he said he was a member for years and they had always had excellent presentation yet I had found great issue with the focus and sound and overall general sloppy projection, he said mine was a trade against the WR and a wild exaggeration. I pointed out that I wasn't commenting on all the supposedly perfect shows he had seen there, but the ONE I had seen and that I had to give a C- or even a D if I were grading myself, I'd give myself a D for a show like that. Someone else pointed out that the audience loved it. So I guess lowest common denominator is the yardstick at Lincoln Center. You don't have to put on a A+ presentation as long as no one complains. While I then questioned myself that perhaps maybe I was being too much of my old anal retentive self and perhaps the projectionist WAS just having an off day as someone suggested -- we've all had them -- and who knows what catastrophes could have been going on in the booth and he was having all he could do just to keep the show on the screen. Every projectionist will tell you he's had THOSE days as well. But then comes your post and it seems, no, this guy BURNS film...70MM film. RARE 70MM film. Film doesn't just "suddenly jam" spontaniously on its own, there is always a cause and effect, especially 70mm which because of its size is very robust compared to the smaller 35mm print. But even with 35mm, film "jams" because of a projectionist mis-threads it or there are broken perforations that were OVERLOOKED by the projectionist when he did his all-important print inspection prior to the show, or there are physical problems with the projector mechanism, all of which should have been spotted and corrected prior to the show -- that is, if someone were competent enough to spot them and are competent enought fo correct them . That no one did and the film tore and burned (which means it could be many frames that were damaged before and possibly after the burn, not just that single frame might need to be removed), this is a big red flag that tells me the Walter Reade has projection personnel issues that really need to be addressed before any other rare prints are entrusted to this place. Just a few frames...no big deal? Image if a few frames were removed by EVERY theatre that played the print!