Open-air 70mm cinema Mír in Chrudim, Czech Republic
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Stanislav
Novotný, Czech Republic||Date:
UM 70/35 universal projectors in open
air 70mm cinema. Image by Jaroslav Marek|
Open-air cinemas in Czech Republic were a phenomenon of fifties and
sixties. Instead of usual term “open-air cinema” is in Czech language
used a word connection “summer cinema”. City of Chrudim with
approximately 24,000 inhabitants is located circa 120 km eastward from
The open-air cinema Mír was built there in 1958 (Mír means
Peace; names of cinemas in era of socialistic Czechoslovakia were not
very inventive and lot of them had the same name, for instance 70mm
cinema Mír in Krnov).
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Air cinema Mir in 1958.|
Chrudim summer cinema was built in a quiet place
behind the Regional museum near the centre of the city, partly with a
help of volunteers and with a financial aid of the state. The place was
originally used for sports (skating rink and tennis courts).
The summer cinema Mír was opened on 31st May 1958. It was equipped with
a pair of Czech made heavy duty 35mm FTP-1 projectors capable to perform
CinemaScope prints with four magnetic tracks. Auditorium capacity was 1
240 visitors and the screen size occupied area of 7.5 × 21 m.
air 70mm cinema. Image by Stanislav Novotný
After 11 years this cinema was converted to 70mm projection and was
re-opened on 6th June 1969. The first 70mm film performed there was the
English historic drama "Becket". There were used two Czech made universal
projectors UM 35/70 from Meopta Přerov. The six-track sound console AKT
635 was a product of Tesla Valašské Meziříčí, Czech Republic. The screen
was enlarged up to 9.7 × 21.4 m with the area of 208 m2. It was the
largest screen in Eastern Bohemia and the entire cinema was the first
70mm open-air cinema in this region.
concrete screen with surface area of 200 sq meters. Image by Stanislav Novotný|
However the iron curtain divided Europe in that time, there were lot of
remarkable 70mm films performed in Czechoslovakia.
Czechoslovak cinema visitors could see spectacular films such as
"Agony and Ecstasy", "Becket", "Cleopatra", "Old Shatterhand", "Grand Prix",
"Flying Clipper", "Spartacus", "Battle on the Bulge", "2001: A Space Odyssey",
"Marooned", "It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World", "Sky over Holland", "Mutiny on the
Bounty" (squeezed print was projected onto a regular screen 1:2.2),
"Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines", "My Fair Lady", "West Side
Story", "Hello Dolly", "Anne for Thousand Days", "Lion in Winter", "Le Mans",
"Fall of the Roman Empire", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "E. T. The
Extraterrestrial" and many others (excuse me the non-configurational and
not complete list of films).
building behind the open
air 70mm cinema is the regional museum. Image by Stanislav Novotný|
There were also projected Soviet and
East-German (DEFA 70) films, for instance
"War and Peace", "Derzu Uzala"
"Orpheus in the Underworld" (GDR) etc. There were also two or
perhaps only one (I am not sure now) Czech blow-up 70mm films performed.
At least the "High Blue Wall", the Czech military propaganda film about
the strength and a peaceful character of Czechoslovak air force, was
available as 70mm print.
booth behind visitors. The show has just started. Image by Stanislav Novotný|
70mm films, especially those, which were made in the West, were very
popular; nevertheless the attendance of cinemas slowly went down in the
late eighties and in nineties that finally caused the abandon of many
open-air cinemas and 70mm projection, as well.
Only a few people noticed in mid-eighties that the original screen made
from burlap-like sound penetrating material was changed to a firm
slightly curved concrete wall, which is much more durable than the
pristine screen. Speakers originally placed behind the screen were moved
under the bottom edge of the wall. The firm screen proved its quality
and durability. Even after five years of absence of any maintenance it
still looks very well.
comes, the show is about to begin. Image by Stanislav Novotný|
Summer cinema Mír in Chrudim was converted back to 35mm format in the
mid-nineties. UM 70/35 projectors were replaced by a pair of MEO 5X due
to lack of spare parts for UM 70/35.
Low interest of visitors and short season of only two months – July and
August – of open-air cinema caused the final closing of this cinema in
Chrudim in 2005. From that time open-air projections continue at a
smaller place in the neighborhood of the Municipal cinema and also
occasional shows in the main Ressel Square, where inflatable screen is
air 70mm cinema. Image by Stanislav Novotný
What caused the current situation of open-air cinemas Czech Republic in
general? There were various reasons. Among them was a gradual decrease
of visitors’ interest due to new media. The main reason probably was the
Central European Summer Time that caused late beginning of shows due to
diminishing but still disturbing daylight up to at least 10:30 P. M.
during longest days. There could be also found the introduction of
cyan-dye soundtracks as one of causes that led to massive reduction of a
number of open-air cinemas in Czech Republic. Owners of these facilities
considered additional expenses joined to conversion to red LED readers
as unacceptable and closed them. Contemporary cost-effectiveness of
open-air cinemas in Czech Republic is very low and if there are still
some, they exist thanks to enthusiasm of their owners.
There are plans to convert this cinema to a multi-purpose area for
recreation, leisure time and occasional events (concerts, shows etc.)
The screen isn’t included to those plans and it probably will be
demolished. I think however it might be conserved as a technical
treasure but I cannot estimate, whether this idea would be acceptable
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