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“Back to the Future”: The North American 70mm Engagements
“He was never in time for his classes… He wasn’t in time for his dinner… Then one day…he wasn’t in his time at all.”

The 70mm Newsletter
Compiled by: Michael Coate Date: 30.07.2018
The following is a reference / historical listing of the 70-millimeter engagements of “Back to the Future” in North America. These were arguably the best cinemas in which to experience the film.

“Back to the Future” was among twenty-three confirmed first-run films released in 1985 with 70mm prints for selected engagements. The Amblin Entertainment production and Universal release — directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd — opened July 3rd.

The 70mm prints of “Back to the Future” consisted of pillarboxed imagery (approximately 1.85:1) blown up from spherical 35mm photography. The audio was Six-Track Dolby Stereo (“A” encoded “baby boom” format).

For the release of “Back to the Future”, Universal employed the services of Lucasfilm’s Theatre Alignment Program (TAP) to evaluate and approve the cinemas selected to book a 70mm print.

Trailers for “E.T.” (re-release), “Creator” and “Weird Science” circulated with prints of “Back to the Future” and which the distributor recommended be screened with the presentation.

The duration of the engagements (measured in weeks) has been included in parenthesis following the cinema name.

Note that some of the presentations included in this listing might have been presented in 35mm during the latter week(s) of engagement due to print damage and the distributor’s unwillingness to supply a 70mm replacement print or because the booking was moved to a smaller, 35mm-only auditorium within a multiplex. As well, the reverse may have been true in some cases whereas a booking began with a 35mm print because the lab was unable to complete the 70mm print order in time for an opening-day delivery or the exhibitor negotiated a mid-run switch to 70mm. In these cases, any 35mm portion of the engagement (or movement out of an HPS-4000 or THX-certified auditorium) has been included in the duration figure.

Prior to release there was a 70mm sneak preview screening on June 29th at the Avco Center and an invitational preview on July 2nd at the Cinerama Dome.

Los Angeles — General Cinema’s Avco Center Triplex (25) [THX]
Los Angeles — Pacific’s Cinerama Dome (14)
San Francisco — Blumenfeld’s Regency I (22)

Washington — Circle’s Avalon Twin (24) [HPS-4000]

New York — Loews’ State Twin (18)

Toronto — Cineplex Odeon’s Hyland Twin (20)

Dallas — General Cinema’s Northpark West Twin (24?) [THX]


1985-10-11 … Los Angeles, CA — Pacific’s Hollywood Pacific Triplex (1)
1985-11-08 … Atlanta, GA — Columbia (6)
1985-12-04 … San Francisco, CA — Blumenfeld’s Regency II (2)
1985-12-20 … Downers Grove, IL — Classic Cinemas’ Tivoli (4)
1985-12-20 … San Francisco, CA — Blumenfeld’s Regency III (4)

1986-01-08 … Toronto, ON — Cinesphere* (12 days)
1986-02-21 … Toronto, ON — Cineplex Odeon’s Canada Square 8-plex (2) [THX]
1986-03-07 … Los Angeles, CA — Cineplex Odeon’s Century Plaza Twin (2) [HPS-4000]
1986-03-07 … Tucson, AZ — Cineplex Odeon’s El Dorado Twin (2)
1986-04-18 … San Francisco, CA — Cineplex Odeon’s Northpoint (2)
1986-06-06 … Los Angeles, CA — Pacific’s Hollywood Pacific Triplex (1) [w/ “E.T.”]
1986-06-23 … Atlanta, GA — Fox**
1986-08-29 … San Francisco, CA — Blumenfeld’s Regency I (1) [w/ “Howard the Duck”]

1987-03-18 … Toronto, ON — Cinesphere* (5 days)
1987-06-30 … Universal City, CA — Cineplex Odeon’s Universal City 18-plex***

1988-03-16 … Toronto, ON — Cinesphere* (5 days)
1988-11-05 … Los Angeles, CA — Pacific’s Cinerama Dome****

1990-05-24 … Los Angeles, CA — Pacific’s Cinerama Dome*****
1990-05-24 … San Jose, CA — Syufy’s Century 22 Triplex*****

*Screened during the annual Winter 70mm Film Festival

**Screened during the 9th Annual Fox Summer Film Festival

***Screened during the Magnificent Movie Poll grand-opening event

****Screened during Steven Spielberg Day as a part of the Cinerama Dome’s 25th anniversary film festival, a 17-day, 35-title celebration of popular movies shown at the famous cinema between 1963 and 1988.

*****Screened during the Back-to-Back-to-Back triple feature event.

The information in this article was principally referenced from film industry trade publications and regional newspaper promotion, with thanks to Bill Kretzel.

International 70mm engagements of this title have not been accounted for in this article.

If you believe this article contains any errors or omissions, please consider emailing the author or editor.
More in 70mm reading:

70mm Engagements

70mm Blow Up List

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Updated 07-01-21