....one performance, one review (your results may vary)
“Interstellar” in 70mm at the
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The 70mm Newsletter
and photographed by: Vince E. Young,
November 14, 2014
A view of the
It had been years since I had set foot in the
Ziegfeld, now about to
enter its 45th year of existence, since it had gone through two changes
in ownership after the original Walter Reade Organization. I wanted to
see if a 70mm presentation nowadays could hold a candle to similar
wide-gauge engagements in the past.
As I entered the spacious, albeit empty, auditorium, the
pre-show had already begun: the main and screen curtains were open, and
the masking was pulled back. In the first photograph, you can see that
the pre-show (projected digitally) image is also not the full height of
the screen opening. Over the years, I've seen bottom masking appear and
disappear, and am not sure if it's put in place
by hand or electrically operated. At any rate, this first series of
advertisements ran within the boundaries of the 1.85:1 image in a
variety of shapes and sizes.
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"Interstellar" Goes IMAX 70MM and
"Interstellar" in 70MM at the Ziegfeld
in New York
A view of the
full 70mm screen.
Taken during a slight pause between individual ads, shows the extent of the
screen in use. It certainly appears to be of an aspect ratio closer to
two-to-one than 2.2:1 which has always been the case here with full-frame
5-perf 70mm films. I'm used to, but not fond of, commercial advertisements
in theatres, especially when they're the very same commercials I see every
day at home.
Here's an ad for the Syfy television channel, and the next one is from the ubiquitous
Geico. A few more minutes into the pre-show, two employees walk
behind the right curtain.(I've highlighted one of them in the lower
right corner of the screen) and they spent about two minutes
attempting to do something with the right masking panel, resulting in
the top right edge of the masking
remained askew until the gentlemen gave up their attempts and
disappeared back into the auditorium.
curtains. The outer curtain the inner curtain.
The Bow-Tie Cinemas “flash” screen.
17 minutes and an exhausting number of trailers later (we're
still digital at this point), the curtains begin to close, and I stop
staring at my watch.
The image disappears...the curtains have not completely
closed, but they've started....inner curtain first...
...followed by the house curtain...
A pause for a few seconds. No image. No sound. A nice touch.
It's beginning to smack of real old-school showmanship though the timing is
a little awkward. Then the outer curtain opens, followed by the inner.
a tail-out. Nobody in the booth to close the dowser, so we experience 10
seconds of blinding white light
Hooray! An image flashes....but, drat!, it's an MPAA green
band signalling yet another trailer. But at least we've finally switched
to 70mm film projection.
The trailer image is 1.85:1, and, yes, the masking still
hasn't closed. And you can see that the 70mm image now fills the entire
height of the screen. The trailer is for
Paul Thomas Anderson's
“Inherent Vice” which is an 1.85:1 production. If that full visible
screen masked is actually 2.2 times wider than high, then I'm running
off for an eye exam.
And finally, at 11:20 am, the Paramount logo.
view of the booth. Behind the left porthole is the film platter, the Century
35/70 projector sits in the middle, and the digital projector is located at
Eventually 2 hours and 49 exciting minutes later, the
last frame slides through the projector head, and the the print's tail,
too....but, oops!, nobody in the booth to close the dowser, so we
experience 10 seconds of blinding white light, until someone notices,
extinguishes the light, turns the house lights back up, and closes the
curtains. Well, nobody's perfect. At least it was 70mm and in its second
week of projection via a platter, the print still looked gorgeous!
Congratulations, booth personnel!
A view of the marquee as seen from the East. See any mention of 70mm?
On the way out...and sorry about the shakiness...can't
really bring a heavy-duty tripod into the theatre...here's a view of the
booth. Behind the left porthole is the film platter, the Century 35/70
projector sits in the middle, and the digital projector is located at
the right. I believe I counted eight
loudspeakers on each side wall and two on the rear.
Mr. Reade would spin in his grave if he
knew that the theatre features no mention in any of its signage outside the
building that this is not only a
70mm presentation, but the last one in a
long while, and not IMAX. Not a single word.
man who sponsored Aromarama,
Wonderama, and himself was on the Board of Directors of
would probably not be pleased.
However, my purchased ticket plainly states “70mm”. Message
to BowTie: I have already paid for a ticket; I no longer need to be
titillated by the statement “70mm” or “giant screen”. You already have
I didn't mention the audio at this showing. As hoped for and expected,
the audio was at the Ziegfeld's denture-loosening best, the
punch-in-the-gut bass moments as vibrant as in
Encounters Of The Third Kind" or
"Apocalypse Now" here.
Not sure if BowTie plans to install Dolby Atmos. A grid of overhead
loudspeakers might not mesh with the auditorium's décor, but would truly be
A view of the marquee as seen from the
West. See any mention of 70mm?
Years ago, the Ziegfeld normally
ran non-sync music through ceiling speakers in stereo without utilizing
the wall units. But I want to take the opportunity to thank not only
those responsible for the practically unflawed presentation, but also
those involved in the production and distribution of this feature film
with the intent of wide-gauge projection in 70mm. It wasn't perfect, but
it was a megastep in the right direction, and perhaps if distribution
hadn't contracted so many simultaneous competing venues along with the
Ziegfeld, the theatre might have attracted more than the six people who
showed up yesterday morning. Very special kudos to Bow-Tie for retaining
its film capabilities. [I just read in in70mm.com that “Inherent Vices”
will [is rumored to] be a 5/70 release.]
And a special shout out to the kind lady at the boxoffice who, looking
at my driver's license photo, refused to believe I am a senior. You made
my day, ma'am.
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