The 70mm Promotion Tour
Los Angeles 1 - 15 October 1994, Part #2
This article first appeared in
The 70mm Newsletter
Thomas Hauerslev. Reedited slightly for the internet in April 2001.
Issue 37 - February 1995
Panavision in Tarzana. Thomas Hauerslev, Greg Russin, Tak Miyagishima,
Mikael Salomon and John Wolthuis
In very early January 1994
secretary of The International 70mm Association, approached me with the idea
of a 70mm promotion tour to Los Angeles. After a lot of preliminary work we
finally decided to go from October 1 - 15. 1994.
The aim was to
tell Hollywood how enthusiastic movie lovers are about original 70mm films.
Before we left Europe we had made
lists of 70mm films and lists of European
cinemas capable of showing 70mm prints. Although we had made arrangements to
visit a variety of companies in Los Angeles and San Francisco, we never had
expected the openhearted enthusiasm we received by everyone. People we met
and talked to was very positive about 65mm/70mm. Everyone was convinced by
the superiority of 70mm and was quite surprised to meet two people coming
all the way from Europe with this message about 70mm.
Is there a conclusion to The 70mm Promotion Tour to Los Angeles? Well, difficult question. Everyone we spoke with
agreed that it will take Mr Spielberg and Mr Lucas to give 65mm
cinematography the big push ahead before anyone will touch it. It all boils
down to one thing: MONEY. The post production ads to the budget. The 65mm
stock costs and so does 65mm camera equipment.
all the cameras the industry will need. Arriflex in Germany has the
765 sitting on the shelf waiting. A lot of 65mm equipment is around to serve
the industry. Everybody was very enthusiastic about 70mm films. Everyone had
their story about 70mm and their theory why nobody shoots in 65mm. Digital
sound takes much of the blame. I feel that digital sound is a blessing,
however, only when it is combined with 70mm. The joke around town [LA] was the abbreviation
of the 35mm digital sound format SDDS "Still Doesn't Do Shit". The
interest to shoot in 65mm is definitely there. It is only a matter of a few
years before filmmakers realize that it takes large pictures to lure the
audience back into the cinema. Hopefully we are still around to see it.
I would like to thank our
sponsors: Mr Albert Bert, chairman of directors of the Kinepolis Group,
Belgium, Mr Tom Odems, manager of Theater aan de Parade in the Netherlands
and Mr Vittore Nicelli, president of Cinemeccanica, Italy who generously
sponsored the tour. In Los Angeles we were invited to stay with chief
projectionist at Todd-AO/Glen Glenn Studios,
Leimeter. We are very grateful
to Dan and his wife Barbara for housing us for ten days. Mr Chris Jenkins,
Todd-AO/Glen Glenn Studios, is also to be thanked for letting us
use the facilities at 1021 North Seward Street.
There is no way of
describing all things we experienced during our tour. What follows is
a day-by-day account of some of the magic called Hollywood.
in 70mm reading:
Johan Wolthuis' article
02.10.1994. Arrived in San Francisco airport at 5 PM. Johan picked me up and
we went directly to the hotel near Chinatown. From the open window on the
4th floor I could hear the sound of a police car. Just like the movies.
After a long day I was very tired. I went to bed at 9 PM.
03.10.1994. Across the street we found a French café which turned out to be
very nice and we spent all our San Francisco breakfasts at the café. French
croissants in America. Johan told me about his Canada tour and we
went over the newspaper to see if any films were presented in 70mm.
Fair Lady" at the AMC Kabuki 8 and
"True Lies" at
the UA Coronet. Quickly we decided to see "My Fair Lady"
the same evening. The UA Coronet, by the way, was the first Todd-AO house in
San Francisco. We split up and I spent the day walking around San Francisco.
I saw the Iwerks installation on Pier 39. Two films were shown. "RoboCop:
The Ride" and
"Dino Island". None of them created
much fuss. Both films were shown in the 8/70 70mm format. After dinner we
went to see "My Fair Lady". Quickly Johan found the manager
Mr Michael Goodwin who showed us the complex. He gave us two tickets. The
film looked like a blow-up from 35mm. It was very grainy and the dialogue
came from the center channel alone. No panning of the sound. There was
nothing wrong with the sound system in the cinema Mr Goodwin assured
04.10.1994. Tried to get in touch with Lucas Film but due to conflicts in
our calendars a meeting could not be arranged. Spent some time looking for
the San Francisco office of the Todd-AO Corporation on 172 Golden Gate
Avenue. The two story building was in the seedy part of town. While the rain
was poring down I was looking for no 172. Unable to find any signs
indicating "Todd-AO", I asked for help in a shop. Finally I
managed to ring a bell and a lady appeared and told me that the staff of
two, Mr Ron Zimmerman and Mrs Edith, were on holiday. They would be back
next week. In the afternoon Johan and I met in front of the Alhambra. A
lovely old cinema with 70mm, Dolby Digital sound and a DP70 projector. The
DP70 projector is called Norelco in the States, but in this article it is
referred to as the DP70. The Alhambra was recently restored to one single
screen after many years as a two screen cinema. Later the same day we went
to see the Castro cinema. Castro is a beautiful old revival cinema with an
original Würlitzer organ installed. The neon sign on the marquee in front
is the pride of the cinema.
Georges Lucas' office asked us to follow-up with you regarding your 70mm
Promotion Tour. We are sorry to have missed the opportunity to meet you
during your trip to the West Coast due to conflicts in our scheduling. The
THX office would be pleased to host a meeting with you next time you visit
this area. You may contact me directly for any such scheduling. We look
forward to the possibility of seeing you in the near future and hearing of
your groups actives.
05.10.1994. At 11 AM Mr Ioan Allen, vice president of
Dolby Laboratories Inc
would give us full display of Dolby sound. Mrs Karen Lansdon assistant to Mr
Allen, guided us through the many offices of Dolby Laboratories Inc. Finally
we ended in the The Presentation Studio where Mr Allen was waiting. He had prepared
to show us a reel of 70mm from "The Island" with Michael
Caine. Realizing the reel had faded and the sound was not very good he
stopped the DP75 projector and ran reel #1 of "The Fugitive"
instead. Dolby Digital at its best. Upon asking, Mr Allen assured us that
Dolby Digital sound could be applied to 70mm film if there is a demand. So
far the industry has not shown any interest in it. The cinema itself had
around 50 seats and was luxurious designed. The screen masking was moveable
both horizontal and lateral. We also met Mr Lonny Jennings, film technician.
I spent the afternoon with Lonny while Johan went of for himself to find
some books. It was our last day in San Francisco.
06.10.1994. Left San Francisco by train for Los Angeles with the Coast
Starlight at 07:55 AM. We arrived at Glendale railway station, one hour late,
at 9 PM. Dan was there to meet us.
Wolthuis, Dan Leimeter, Richard Vetter, Darryl Gray and Thomas Hauerslev
outside the Todd-AO Studios
07.10.1994. We began our first day in Los Angeles at Todd-AO/Glen Glenn
Studios, 1021 North Seward Street. After a few phone calls to
Salomon, Richard Vetter, Panavision Inc,
Showscan and 70mm Inc we drove to
the UA Pasadena Cinema to see a demonstration of the new 35mm, 2 ½ perf, 24
fps film format. A Century projector had been converted to show 2 ½ perf. A
reel from "Scent of a Woman" had been printed to this
format. Apart from a slight travel ghost, the picture quality was
outstanding. The picture steadiness was remarkable due to the slower film
speed. The format is called CDP = Compact Distribution Print, a United
Artists Theatres/Todd-AO development. The sound quality meets or exceeds
SMPTE standards and is compatible with all known digital sound formats.
After a short lunch we toured Todd-AO/Glen Glenn Sound with Dan. In the
foyer of Todd-AO there is a display of 5 original Academy Awards. The first
was awarded to Mr Michael Todd for the development of the Todd-AO system.
Remaining Oscars was awarded to Todd-AO for best sound in
Pacific", "West Side Story",
Alamo" and "The Sound of Music". In the old days
Oscars for best sound was awarded to the studio unlike today where the
mixers receive the Oscar for best sound. Todd-AO/Glen Glenn Studio is the
worlds largest sound studio. Stage A is the largest at 1021 Seward. It is a
very large curved screen and the throw is 81 feet. Many great films have
been mixed at Stage A "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"
(took 14 weeks!), "E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial" and
to name a few in 70mm. The projectors are the DP70 prototypes made in 1955.
They are still running beautifully although they could use some new paint.
At Stage B "Out of Africa" was mixed among many others. The
projectors here are also the DP70. At the opposite side of the street the
previous Glen Glenn Sound is located. At Stage 1 a pair of DP70s from the
ship "France" have been installed. Most of the Todd-AO/Glen Glenn
Studio administration is located in the Glen Glenn building. It is a giant
jigsaw puzzle to coordinate the use of all stages. Usually the planning lies
months ahead, however, quite often appointments are booked from day to day
if the studio is available. On our way home we visited the CBS Burbank
Studio. Here, Todd-AO also has a huge studio complex for music recording
It was a pleasure meeting with you earlier this week during your trip to Los
Angeles for the 70mm Promotion Tour. As we discussed, MGM/UA is a strong
supporter of improving both the sight and sound presentation of motion
pictures. I shall be in touch with UIP to determine what can be done to
strike some new prints of our 70mm library. Please keep me informed of your
progress and my best wishes for your continual success.
Larry D. Gleason
President Worldwide Theatrical Distribution
MGM/UA Distribution Company
2500 Broadway Street
08.10.1994. It was a beautiful day. From Dan's house, on top of the hill in
Glendale, overlooking Los Angeles, we could see as far as Palos Verdes
Peninsula, which is a rare experience in LA. We could even see The Pacific
Ocean. Magnificent. Dan had arranged a visit to the Los Angeles Theatre on
Broadway. This magnificent cinema closed in April 1994. It was built by S
Charles Lee and opened January 30, 1931 with "City Lights".
Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation held a meeting that morning to
discuss ways of keeping the theatre open as a live stage theatre. The day we
also met Mr Robert G Dickson. In the afternoon we visited The Hollywood Bowl
and The Hollywood Studio Museum. None of it had anything to do with 70mm,
but it was our day off. I felt a very strange sensation while walking in
front of Mann's Chinese Theater and El Capitan. Had I been there before?
Surely I have seen many films taking place in LA but this was strange.
09.10.1994. Thanks to the curtsey of the Leimeters we were taken on a guided
tour in Los Angeles lasting a whole day. In an air-conditioned car at the
size of a school bus we began in beautiful downtown Burbank seeing the gates
of Walt Disney and Warner Brothers studios. Should the Leimeters ever loose
their regular jobs, they can easily change business and become tourist
guides. Almost every building in Hollywood had their story and Dan and
Barbara kept telling them. To our full enjoyment. The building where Norma
Jean (later Mrs Monroe) went to school, the house that served as inspiration
to the house in "Psycho". Echo Park where
was filmed etc, etc. By the Pacific we saw the road used in the climax of
a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". Los Angeles city has served as back
lot to many films. Our first week was coming to an end. Excited as we were
we had no idear of what next week would bring.
10.10.1994. Our first arrangement was at CFI at 10:30 with Mr Jack West,
director 70mm sales and marketing. An informal discussion about 70mm soon
developed and evolved into a tour at the 65mm/70mm laboratory. CFI handles
IMAX, Iwerks and other special format 70mm films. The rest of the day was
devoted to screenings at Todd-AO. Dan had arranged for us to see reel one of
"The Miracle of Todd-AO" and
the Cinespace 70
demonstration film from 1986. The Cinespace 70 process is
basically Todd-AO. Everything was presented in 70mm at Stage A. Also present
at the screening were Dr Richard Vetter, and assistant Mr Darryl Gray of
Todd-AO's camera division. Besides being manager of Todd-AO's camera
department Dr Vetter is also known for the
Todd-AO/Glen Glenn Studios is still very active in the camera business and
has a wide variety of 65mm cameras ready for hire.
11.10.1994. Meeting with Mr Larry D Gleason, president of worldwide
theatrical distribution at MGM 10 AM. Discuss 70mm print politics. We
explained to Mr Gleason there is a growing interest in Europe towards
showing older films in 70mm. 70mm prints are, however, not available. Mr
Gleason explained that MGM Classics department in the US made a profit in
1993 of 1.000.000 US dollars. Only thing they did was to distribute classic
MGM films to cinemas in the States. At the moment
"2001: A Space
"West Side Story" were available in
70mm in the States. We suggested a similar thing could be done in Europe.
Have a few prints running without subtitles in the original version. The
70mm prints should be transferred from country to country. It is only a
matter of co-ordination. Mr Gleason promised to look into the possible
striking of new 70mm prints for Europe. In the afternoon we went inside the
Paramount Pictures studio lot to see a TV- show rehearsal and the brand-new
Paramount Theater. We met with chief projectionist Bob Miller who explained
that he bought 7 (seven) DP70 for 3.000 US dollars. He built 3 complete
projectors from them and had them installed. The new cinema houses 528 seats
and the screen is 16,5 x 7,6 meters. I asked him why he chose to use a 40
years old projector. He answered promptly, "because it is the best
projector available". 4 years ago Paramount Pictures bought some
Century projectors, and they are still not living up to expectations.
12.10.1994. Our day at Panavision Inc developed from a 2 hour visit into a
full day among people committed to 70mm film and 65mm cinematography. We
started our 10 AM meeting with Mr Gregory Ruzzin. Greg explained the history
of Panavision Inc, gave us an extraordinary thorough tour in the building
and gave us some memorabilia from the day. In the cinema, that also serves
as a school, we sat down and saw a Camera 65 print of
(Chariot Race scene) and the Norwegian 70mm short
"A Year Along The
Abandoned Road" filmed during 14 months with a Super Panavision 70
camera and a 50mm lens. With us, at the cinema, was senior vice president
Takuo "Tak" Miyagishima who had been with Panavision Inc since day
one. Danish cinematographer Mikael Salomon ("Far and Away") had
also come to Panavision to meet us. He was working on
Andy Garcia. Tak told Mikael he could have the 65mm cameras for the price of
35mm cameras, but nothing was settled and we all laughed. Before we left
Panavision we had the opportunity to see the original Sphero Panatar 450mm
lens built for the mirage sequence in "Lawrence of Arabia". No
need to say that Panavision Inc has a very large stock of 65mm cameras
available. Everything is kept up to date and ready to film. The biggest
surprise to me was the compact size of the new Panavision Super 70 camera.
That night we were invited by the Leimeters to The Magic Castle in
Hollywood. An amazing evening, a suit and tie event, with magicians doing
tricks right in front our very eyes. It was simply flabbergasting to see
card tricks, rubber band tricks and coin tricks in so many variations.
Truely a magical evening.
13.10.1994. This was our 11th day of the promotion tour. We were both very
tired. However, every day seemed like a new adventure and it gave us strength.
First stop was the club house of American Society of Cinematographers and
office of American Cinematographer. The original 128' Todd-AO "bug
eye" lens was exhibited in the conference room. Serial number #5. A
very large lens to say the least. Both Johan and I bought some old copies of
American Cinematographer. In the afternoon we had a meeting with chief
projectionist Mike Shaw and Bob in the Westwood Village. Two major 70mm
cinemas are located here opposite each other. The Bruin and the (Fox
Westwood) Village. After a tour at the projection room Johan left the party
Mr Paul Rayton, chief projectionist at the Hollywood Galaxy 6.
Mike, Bob and I visited some cinemas in the Westwood area all equipped with
DP70. We came home very late as we spent time shooting night
photography of cinemas with neon signs.
of Amblin films
14.10.1994. We spent our last full day in Los Angeles with Mr Fritz Herzog,
motion picture collection assistant from the Margaret Merric Library and
Dick Vetter & Darryl. This is where The Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences keep all their memorabilia. It is built inside an old water work.
The afternoon was a treat. A presentation tour at the Academy's cinema;
Samuel Goldwyn Theater. 1012 red seats, red curtain, perfect sightlines and
a No Popcorn policy. Johan speeded off with Paul Rayton to DTS to find out
if any 70mm prints of
"My Fair Lady" was available with
DTS time code.
It turned out not to be true. We saw "Mary Poppins" at a special
30th year anniversary reunion screening the same evening. Before the film,
however, we had just one more visit to make; at Amblin Pictures on the
Universal lot in Universal City. Mr Spielberg was not at home, but we left
our material for him to see.
15.10.1994. They day of "The Broadway Tour". Side
by side in the Spanish speaking area of Down Town you find one cinema
cathedral after another. I had never expected to see very large cinemas in
these days. Grand names, all once the "crème de la crème" of
cinema going in LA. State, Los Angeles, Million Dollar, Roxie, Cameo,
Arcade, Palace, Globe, Tower, Rialto, Orpheum and United Artists. Many are
closed, but some are still open. It's a wrap boys. Going home. Sleep for two