What killed the 70mm blow up of new releases?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Reagan, Aug 25, 2003.

  1. Reagan

    Reagan Supporting Actor

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    Until the mid 1990s you could count on one theater in town (if you lived in a really big city) having a 70mm blow up of a major new release. But no more. Why did it stop?

    Was it:

    1) Digital sound, which brought the sound quality of a 35mm release to the level (or at least close to the level) of 6 track magnetic 70mm sound?

    2) Extensive use of CGI rendered at a resolution that looks OK on a 35mm print but fake on a 70mm print?

    3) Use of computers for editing?

    4) Good old fashioned economics?

    5) All of the above?

    6) Something else?

    I'm just curious, and I don't know the answer so if anyone has any ideas or information on this, please share.

    -Reagan
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Much of the reason why filmmakers liked 70mm blowup was the 6-track sound, so digital killed that.

    Higher quality 35mm printing

    Lack of 70mm equipped theaters. Not counting IMAX, I doubt there are more than 50. There is _1_ here in Philly, and the theater is frankly a closet compared to what 70mm should be shown in..
     
  3. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    WIth the change to multiplexes and close down of single theatres there was and is simply no need for 70mm. Audiences really don't care I believe. People are used to small theatres and watching films at home. The big theatre experience is unknown for many.
     
  4. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    Though lots of theaters were built in the 90s, few were equipped with 70mm projectors. With fewer places to exhibit 70mm movies (though I don't think it's quite so dire as Jeff describes it), striking 70mm prints became less viable for studios.

    Also, IMAX happened. Once you've seen that, 70mm doesn't look quite so impressive.
     
  5. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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  6. Reagan

    Reagan Supporting Actor

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    These are all good answers.

    Jeff, I worked at two multiplex theaters in the early 90s (one built in 88 the other in 90) both of which had one projector that could do 70mm. One is now a parking lot and the other is a Marshall's. I'd wager that next to none of the newer "staduim seating" style theaters were built with a 70mm capable projector. But that's just a guess.

    What about the editing angle? I've always been curious about that because the timing of the onset of computer assisted editing was about the same time as the decline in 70mm blow ups. Anyone know anything about this?

    -Reagan
     
  7. Carl Johnson

    Carl Johnson Cinematographer

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    In this day of showing blockbuster films on multiple screens it wouldn't make financial sense to mess with 70mm. I worked at a 14plex in Indianapolis that had a single 35mm/70mm hybrid projector but the 70mm gear had a layer of dust on it literally decades thick. Even if they went thru the trouble of restoring the 70mm gear and blockbuster 70mm films were readily avalible it wouldn't have been worth the hassle. If Spiderman II is showing on three prints in one location the 70mm print would have to bring in more patrons than the 35mm showing accross the hall 45 mins later and that just wouldn't happen.
     
  8. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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  9. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    The editig factor would be of little concern to the printing process. While most films are edited on avid computer, they still have negative cut for release prints. When you edit on an Avid, it can save a copy of the film, but it also prints out a cut list for the negative cutter to cut by. Probably films like "Star Wars" which are totally digital may go from digital files to prints, they could still cut negative, and have 70mm blowups created from that. Remember, even AOTC had IMAX prints created (although it uses a new scanning process developed by IMAX). 70mm died out due to cost. The prints are extremely mor expensive than 35mm, and the cost to benefit ratio isn't high enough to justify them.
     
  10. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Since this is the Home Theater Forum, I'd like to state the obvious: Home Theater is hurting the Cinema experience. The studios need to figure out how to get people to come back into the movies, rather than wait for the DVD or get it on HBO or paid cable. One way might be to resurrect 70mm, in all its glory and then some, because you simply can't achieve that experience when your home alone.
     
  11. SteveP

    SteveP Second Unit

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    I frankly don't believe that IMAX (or 35MM with digital sound) is a superior experience to seeing narrative film in good old 70MM six-track magnetic.

    My 70MM (and Cinerama) experinces (particularly from the roadshow era) have remained unequalled, let alone excelled, in my movie-going life.

    I think it is just a matter of what is considered most cost-effective for studios and exhibitors.
     
  12. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    One thing that hasn't been mentioned: DLP. I don't think it's a reason for the decline of 70mm, but it may turn out to be yet another reason why 70mm doesn't return. These days, if there's going to be a "special" showing, it's a DLP presentation. Now THAT's something you can't get at home.

    M.
     
  13. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    Well, DLP didn't show up until well after 70mm had more or less died out. I suppose it has taken about the same niche for the casual audience member.

    And, besides, where 70mm looks better than 35mm, Spy Kids 3-D is the only time I've really found a DLP presentation good enough (and there I was looking at it through plastic).
     
  14. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  15. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Actually, more and more films are going right from digital to release print. You'll find laser output credits on many films recently (don't remember which ones), and according to my friend in the FX buis, it's not just FX shots. Basically on the big budget FX pics it's cheaper just to go 100% digital rather than print them and then cut the negative
     
  16. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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  17. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    If the 35mm AOTC was much better than DLP, then I hope none of my theaters ever get DLP. Those prints were ug-ly
     
  18. SteveP

    SteveP Second Unit

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    Still have yet to take the plunge and see a film in DLP--with my memories of 70MM, I expect to be VERY disappointed.
     
  19. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  20. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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