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25th Anniversary of "Brainstorm"'s 1983 Release
REMEMBERING THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE

Read more at
in70mm.com
The 70mm Newsletter
Written and Compiled by: Mike Coate, Hollywood, USA Date: 30.09.2008
Twenty-five years ago, “Brainstorm”, Douglas Trumbull’s “Ultimate Experience”, was released to movie theatres. Though the film was not a box-office success, it is remembered for its effective large-frame cinematography and sound design, and for its interesting take on futuristic technology.

CAST:
Michael Brace – Christopher Walken
Karen Brace – Natalie Wood
Lilian Reynolds – Louise Fletcher
Alex Terson – Cliff Robertson
Gordy Forbes – Jordan Christopher
Landon Marks – Donald Hotton
Robert Jenkins – Alan Fudge
Hal Abramson – Joe Dorsey
James Zimbach – Bill Morey
Chris Brace – Jason Lively
Security Technician – Darrell Larson

DIRECTOR: Douglas Trumbull

SCREENPLAY: Robert Stitzel and Philip Frank Messina (Screenplay), Bruce Joel Rubin (Story)

PROMOTIONAL SLOGAN: “…The Ultimate Experience”

PRODUCTION COST: $18 million

OPENING-WEEK BOOKINGS: 169

OPENING-WEEKEND BOXOFFICE GROSS: $1.2 million

CUMULATIVE NORTH AMERICAN BOXOFFICE GROSS: $10.2 million
 
More in 70mm reading:

"Brainstorm" in 65mm
"..in 70mm"'s 70mm Blow up list

Internet link:

Memorable Quotes

 
“You’ve blown communication, as we know it, right out of the water!” — Cliff Robertson as Alex

“This is the largest exclusive 70mm release in motion picture history, which reflects our belief that ‘Brainstorm’ is a unique motion picture experience.” — Richard B. Graff, President of Domestic Distribution, MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
 
 

What the Critics Said

 
Ticket for the Cinerama Dome

“In a year replete with special effects movies, Douglas Trumbull’s ‘Brainstorm’ towers as the most wizardly of them all.” — Arthur Knight, The Hollywood Reporter

‘Brainstorm’ is a dazzling sight and sound experience!” — Leonard Maltin, Entertainment Tonight

‘Brainstorm’ is a visually captivating experience, but one that ultimately is disappointingly incomplete.” — Bob Curtwright, The Wichita Eagle-Beacon

“This is a neat film, refreshingly different and remarkably intelligent. By all means, try to see this one on a large screen. It’s worth driving out of your way.” — Douglas D. Armstrong, The Milwaukee Journal

‘Brainstorm’ is a nonsensical hodgepodge which is is more irritating than entertaining.” — Don Lechman, (Santa Monica) Evening Outlook

‘Brainstorm’ may not always make a lot of sense, but it certainly looks the $18 million it ended up costing. It was photographed stunningly by Richard Yuricich.” — Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

“Fireworks explode across the screen.” — Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“A landmark movie!” — Stephen Schaefer, Us Magazine

“Why does the screen keep changing size? Was the movie shot with different types of film?” — Bob Lundegaard, Minneapolis Star and Tribune

‘Brainstorm’ is in 1400mm Double Dolby Super Panavision Metrocolor shot through Trumbulized Panaflex lenses in Omnivision at f/125 in North Carolina. Shooting stars and Christmas ornaments courtesy of K-Mart.” — Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle

“Where ‘Brainstorm’ really excels is with its visual effects. It may be the best-looking picture of the year, particularly on a big screen in the 70mm format. The sound track of ‘Brainstorm’, Dolby enhanced, is particularly rich and convincing.” — Stephen Hunter, The (Baltimore) Sun

“It’s a cranky, ugly movie that can’t disguise the problems that plagued it following the death of its co-star, Natalie Wood, while still in production. The movie is a double misfortune. Not only does it display Trumbull’s gifts at low ebb, it also trashes a potentially great sci-fi idea.” — Peter Rainer, (Los Angeles) Herald-Examiner
 
2. oktober 2008

Hi. I just read the new article on the "Brainstorm" anniversary and fondly remember the theatrical experience during its short run back in 1983. I was just wondering if Doug Trumbull was asked or could have been asked to write some kind of retrospective on his association with the film from the beginning to the end...maybe part of a lengthy series of articles, depending on his memories and content. If memory serves me correctly, he is a proponent of 70mm films even using 65mm film to photograph visual fx in "Close Encounters", the first "Star Trek", "Blade Runner" by his FX company. Just my 2cents.

Thanks for the wonderful site.

JD
 

Release Dates

 
30.09.1983 Canada
30.09.1983 United States
08.12.1983 Australia
08.12.1983 Puerto Rico
15.12.1983 Argentina
22.12.1983 Brazil
23.12.1983 Mexico
23.12.1983 United Kingdom
13.01.1984 Italy
01.02.1984 Belgium
01.02.1984 France
10.02.1984 Sweden
10.02.1984 West Germany
23.02.1984 Netherlands
01.03.1984 Hong Kong
16.03.1984 Israel
13.04.1984 Norway
14.04.1984 Japan
20.04.1984 Finland
23.04.1984 Denmark, Imperial Bio, Copenhagen
 
 

Awards

 
The Academy of Science-Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films awarded “Brainstorm” a Saturn for Best Actress (Louise Fletcher) and Best Music (James Horner). “Brainstorm” also received Saturn nominations in the categories of Best Director (Douglas Trumbull), Best Science-Fiction Film, Best Special Effects, and Best Supporting Actress (Natalie Wood). The film also was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
 
 

Trivia, Tidbits & Factoids

 
“Brainstorm” was filmed in locations throughout North Carolina, including Chapel Hill, Durham, Kitty Hawk, Raleigh, and Southern Pines.

At the time of its 1983 release, “Brainstorm” had the largest order of 70-millimeter prints struck for a North American film release, eclipsing the record set earlier in the same year by “Return of the Jedi”.

The concept of “Brainstorm” is similar to that of “Altered States” (1980).

The world premiere of “Brainstorm” was held on 06 October in Raleigh at the Mission Valley Cinemas as a token of appreciation to the state of North Carolina for granting filming locations. The west coast premiere was held on 29 September in Los Angeles at the Cinerama Dome. (The reason the world premiere took place one week after the film’s release was because its distributor, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, planned to release the movie on 07 October 1983, but citing positive exhibitor response to their plans for an exclusive 70mm launch, the company in mid-September pushed up the release by one week but were unable to alter their plan on short notice for the 06 October world premiere event.)

During the first few weeks of its North American release, the film was presented exclusively in 70mm (see list below) before any standard 35mm prints were put into circulation.

On 29 November 1981, during a holiday break from the filming of “Brainstorm”, actress Natalie Wood drowned off the coast of Santa Catalina Island, halting production for over a year until a plan for completion could be agreed upon.

“Brainstorm” is one of 18 English-language feature films produced in the large-gauge Super Panavision 70 process.
 


 
Clip of 70mm film with pillarboxed image.

Promoted as a Super Panavision 70 production, in actuality only a portion of the film was shot in large format. The objective “real world” sequences in “Brainstorm” were filmed in spherical 35mm and have a 1.66:1 aspect ratio; the subjective “brainstorm” sequences were originated in 65mm and are in 2.20:1. Presentations have varied over the years in how the aspect ratio changes have been handled. The 70mm and 35mm scope release prints have the 1.66:1 footage pillarboxed within the wide frame. The pan-and-scan video edition has a 1.33:1 ratio and reveals no ratio change between the real world and the brainstorm sequences. The first letterbox edition (the 1991 laserdisc) featured a transfer of the film that mirrored the original theatrical presentation. A remastered letterbox edition (the 1998 laserdisc and subsequent DVD releases) retains the proper aspect ratios but betrays the intended effect by letterboxing the brainstorm segments within the real world segments.

“Brainstorm” has not (yet) been released on Blu-ray Disc.

Some of the translated foreign-language titles included “Projecto Brainstorm” (Spanish), “Brainstorm Generazione Elettrinica” (Italian), and “Projekt Brainstorm” (German).
 
 

The 70mm Engagements

 
Impressive, almost 3D like, title card from "Brainstorm" - smilebox version

The following is a list of the 70mm Six-Track Stereophonic Sound presentations during the film’s first-run North American release. These were the best cinemas in which to experience “Brainstorm”. All opened on 30 September 1983 except where indicated.

ALBERTA
Calgary – Famous Players CHINOOK
Edmonton – Famous Players PARAMOUNT

ARIZONA
Phoenix – Plitt CINE CAPRI
Tucson – TM EL CON 6

ARKANSAS
Little Rock – UA HEIGHTS

BRITISH COLUMBIA
Vancouver – Famous Players PARK (Opened 02 Dec)
Vancouver – Famous Players STANLEY

CALIFORNIA
Berkeley – Cinerama CALIFORNIA 3
Burlingame – Syufy HYATT
Corte Madera – Marin CINEMA
Fremont – Syufy CINEDOME 7 EAST
Fresno – Festival Enterprises FESTIVAL CINEMAS
Hayward – Festival Enterprises FESTIVAL CINEMAS
Lakewood – Pacific LAKEWOOD CENTER
Los Angeles (Hollywood) – Pacific CINERAMA DOME
Los Angeles (Hollywood) – SRO PARAMOUNT (18 Nov)
Los Angeles (North Hollywood) – UA MOVIES
Los Angeles (Tarzana) – Mann VALLEY WEST (11 Nov)
Los Angeles (Westwood Village) – Mann NATIONAL
Los Angeles (Woodland Hills) – Pacific TOPANGA
Modesto – Festival Enterprises FESTIVAL CINEMAS
Montclair – UA MOVIES
Newport Beach – Edwards NEWPORT
Orange – Syufy CINEDOME 6
Palm Desert – Metropolitan TOWN CENTER 7 (11 Nov)
Palm Springs – Metropolitan CAMELOT (11 Nov)
Pasadena – UNITED ARTISTS
Pleasant Hill – Syufy CENTURY 5
Riverside – UA TYLER MALL CINEMA 4
Sacramento – Syufy CENTURY 6
Sacramento – Syufy CINEDOME 5
San Diego – Pacific CINERAMA
San Francisco – Blumenfeld REGENCY I
San Jose – Syufy CENTURY 21
Santa Barbara – Metropolitan GRANADA
Stockton – Festival Enterprises REGENCY CINEMAS
Temple – Edwards TEMPLE
Torrance – UA DEL AMO
Westminster – UA TWIN (11 Nov)

COLORADO
Colorado Springs – Commonwealth COOPER (07 Oct)
Denver – Commonwealth CONTINENTAL (07 Oct)

CONNECTICUT
East Hartford – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Orange – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Stamford – Trans-Lux RIDGEWAY

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Washington – Circle MacARTHUR

FLORIDA
Fort Lauderdale – GCC GALLERIA
Miami Beach – Loews BAY HARBOR
North Miami Beach – Wometco 163RD STREET TRIPLE
St. Petersburg – Plitt PLAZA TWIN
South Miami – Wometco DADELAND TRIPLE
Winter Park – Wometco WINTER PARK TRIPLE

GEORGIA
Atlanta – Lefont TARA

HAWAII
Honolulu – Consolidated WAIKIKI 3

IDAHO
Boise – Plitt 8TH STREET MARKETPLACE CINEMAS

ILLINOIS
Calumet City – Plitt RIVER OAKS
Champaign – Kerasotes VIRGINIA
Chicago – Essaness LINCOLN VILLAGE
Chicago – Plitt CARNEGIE (21 Oct)
Chicago – Plitt ESQUIRE
Evergreen Park – M&R EVERGREEN
Hillside – M&R HILLSIDE SQUARE
Lombard – GCC YORKTOWN
Milan – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Niles – Essaness GOLF MILL
Norridge – M&R NORRIDGE
Schaumburg – Plitt WOODFIELD

INDIANA
Evansville – Redstone NORTH PARK CINEMAS 7
Indianapolis – Y&W EASTWOOD

IOWA
Des Moines – Dubinsky PLAZA
Dubuque – Douglas CINEMA CENTER (28 Oct)

KANSAS
Overland Park – Dickinson GLENWOOD
Wichita – Dickinson MALL

KENTUCKY
Erlanger – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Lexington – Mid States SOUTHPARK 6
Louisville – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS

LOUISIANA
Metarie – GCC LAKESIDE

MANITOBA
Winnipeg – Famous Players NORTHSTAR

MARYLAND
Baltimore – Durkee SENATOR
Catonsville – Einbinder & Brehm WESTVIEW

MASSACHUSETTS
Boston – Sack CINEMA 57
Brookline – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS CIRCLE
Danvers – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Dedham – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS (14 Oct)
Lawrence – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Revere – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Seekonk – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
West Springfield – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Woburn – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS (14 Oct)
Worcester – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS

MICHIGAN
Ann Arbor – UA FOX VILLAGE
Bloomfield Hills – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Burton – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Dearborn – UA THE MOVIES AT FAIRLANE
Grosse Pointe Woods – Nicholas George WOODS
Lansing – UA SPARTAN TRIPLEX
Livonia – Nicholas George MAI KAI
Southfield – Nicholas George AMERICANA COMPLEX
Southgate – Nicholas George SOUTHGATE
Sterling Heights – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Troy – UA THE MOVIES AT OAKLAND

MINNESOTA
Minneapolis – Plitt SKYWAY
West St. Paul – Engler SIGNAL HILLS 4

MISSOURI
Creve Coeur – Wehrenberg CREVE COEUR
Kansas City – Commonwealth BANNISTER MALL
Kansas City – Mid-America BLUE RIDGE EAST
Sappington – Wehrenberg MARK TWAIN

NEBRASKA
Lincoln – Commonwealth COOPER
Omaha – Douglas CINEMA CENTER

NEVADA
Las Vegas – Syufy CINEDOME 6
Reno – Syufy CENTURY 6

NEW JERSEY
Cedar Grove – CINEMA 23 (21 Oct)
Edison – GCC MENLO PARK TWIN
Lawrenceville – SamEric TWIN LAWRENCEVILLE
Paramus – RKO Century ROUTE 4 SEVENPLEX
Pennsauken – SamEric 5 PENNSAUKEN
Secaucus – Loews MEADOW 6
Totowa – UA CINEMA 46

NEW MEXICO
Albuquerque – GCC LOUISIANA BLVD.

NEW YORK
Albany – UA HELLMAN 1 & 2
Bay Shore – UA CINEMA
Cheektowaga – AMC HOLIDAY 6
DeWitt – Carrols SHOPPINGTOWN 1 & 2
East Meadow – UA MEADOWBROOK QUAD (21 Oct)
New York – Walter Reade ZIEGFELD
Rochester – AMC STONERIDGE PLAZA
Valley Stream – Redstone SUNRISE MULTIPLEX CINEMAS
Woodbury – UA CINEMA 150
Yonkers – GCC CENTRAL PLAZA TWIN

NORTH CAROLINA
Charlotte – Plitt PARK TERRACE (07 Oct)
Raleigh – Litchfield MISSION VALLEY (07 Oct)

NOVA SCOTIA
Halifax – Famous Players SCOTIA SQUARE

OHIO
Beavercreek – Mid States BEAVER VALLEY
Columbus – GCC EASTLAND MALL
Columbus – Mid States CONTINENT 7
Dayton – Chakeres DAYTON MALL CINEMAS
Springdale – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Toledo – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS
Woodmere – Loews VILLAGE

OKLAHOMA
Oklahoma City – Commonwealth QUAIL TWIN

ONTARIO
Hamilton – Famous Players TIVOLI
London – Famous Players PARK
Ottawa – Famous Players RIDEAU CENTRE
Richmond Hill – Famous Players TOWN & COUNTRYE (21 Oct)
Toronto – Famous Players CUMBERLAND FOUR (21 Oct)
Toronto – Famous Players EGLINTON
Toronto – Famous Players MARKET SQUARE (09 Dec)
Toronto – Famous Players PALACE (11 Nov)
Toronto – Famous Players UPTOWN

OREGON
Beaverton – Luxury WESTGATE
Portland – Luxury EASTGATE

PENNSYLVANIA
Allentown – SamEric ALLENTOWN 5
Concordville – SamEric 4 CONCORDVILLE
Feasterville – SamEric 4 FEASTERVILLE
Harrisburg – SamEric TWIN EAST PARK CENTER
King of Prussia – SamEric TWIN PLAZA
McCandless – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS NORTH
Monroeville – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS EAST
Montgomeryville – SamEric 3 MONTGOMERYVILLE
Philadelphia – SamEric SAM’S PLACE I & II
Pittsburgh – Cinemette FULTON
Upper Darby – SamEric PILGRIM GARDENS

QUEBEC
Montreal – United IMPERIAL
Montreal – United YORK (28 Oct)

RHODE ISLAND
Warwick – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS

SOUTH CAROLINA
Charleston – Plitt ULTRAVISION (07 Oct)

TENNESSEE
Knoxville – Simpson CAPRI
Memphis – Rand PARK
Nashville – Martin BELLE MEADE

TEXAS
Arlington – Loews LINCOLN SQUARE
Austin – Mann FOX TRIPLEX
Dallas – GCC NORTHPARK CINEMA I & II
Fort Worth – UA HULEN 6
Houston – GCC GALLERIA CINEMA I & II
Houston – GCC MEYERLAND PLAZA
Houston – Loews SOUTHPOINT 5
San Antonio – Santikos NORTHWEST

UTAH
Ogden – NEWGATE STARSHIPS
Salt Lake City – Mann COTTONWOOD MALL 4
Salt Lake City – Syufy CENTURY 5
Salt Lake City – TROLLEY CORNERS

VIRGINIA
McLean – Roth TYSONS CORNER (28 Oct)
Springfield – GCC SPRINGFIELD MALL

WASHINGTON
Alderwood – SRO GRAND CINEMAS
Bellevue – SRO JOHN DANZ
Riverton Heights – SRO LEWIS & CLARK
Seattle – Luxury COLISUEM
Spokane – Luxury FOX TRI-CINEMA
Tacoma – SRO TACOMA MALL TWIN

WISCONSIN
Milwaukee – Marcus NORTHTOWN
West Allis – Marcus SOUTHTOWN


Sources/References: Numerous newspaper articles, reviews and advertisements; and Boxofficemojo; Cinerama and Large-Frame Exhibition in Canada, The Hollywood Reporter, “Brainstorm” (1983, MGM/UA); Internet Movie Database; Variety.

Special thanks to Jonathan Crist, Thomas Hauerslev, Jim Perry, John Sittig, Vince Young, and the many librarians who contributed to this project.

Copyright 2008 Michael Coate
 
 

Mike Coate

 
Image by Richard Greenhalgh

Michael Coate is a journalist and film historian. He has contributed to American Cinematographer, Boxoffice, Replication News, Sight & Sound, Widescreen Review, and the websites CinemaTreasures.org, FromScriptToDVD.com, and In70mm.com. He was Widescreen Review magazine's Research Editor from 1997 to 2004. In 2004, he co-founded FromScriptToDVD.com, and in 2008 created Fans of Showmanship, a Yahoo! group focusing on the discussion of film history.

Attending baseball games across the USA is Mike's hobby when he's not haunting libraries around the globe looking to unearth useful facts about film history. He is a graduate of the Radio-Television-Film program at California State University Long Beach and lives in Los Angeles.
 
 
 
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