Comments to the 65/70mm Workshop
held at the National Museum of Film, Television
and Photography during the Widescreen Weekend on Sunday the 12th March
The 70mm Newsletter
Edited by: Chris O'Kane
26 March 2006
Sorry to have missed out on the WSW this year. Too many problems, mainly
health. I was interested in getting into the discussion about 70mm
making a come back in cinemas.
Only thing I can say is, Imax are doing it and the new generation of
film goers are going for it. They don't know anything about Todd AO or
Cinerama. If kids are willing to spend a few extra bucks to see a bigger
show then obviously there is a market for such a thing. I don't know if
you still have a copy of that Image Technology article from May 2000.
But everything I said then is still true today. In the final analysis
Imax are spending a lot of money to get widescreen commercial movies on
their screens and into multiplexes, albeit with a superior projection
system and enhanced print. But the print is masked 15/70, uses half the
light output and film area and is about 15% bigger than a Todd AO print.
My point to Cinerama Inc and others was that they could have done this
with existing technology and it would still look superb. It's all down
to someone taking a risk. Imax had to do it to save the company. But
they seem to be making money with it. So if Imax can do this at a
horrendous cost, what can cinema chains do with today's high quality
70mm prints? You can sell anything if you put a sexy label on it. Imax
DMX sounds sexy! But it's just the same old dog in a new coat really.
What's new about widescreen films with 6 track sound on a 70mm format?
It's all down to the big question; Can 70mm make more money? Now it
seems that Imax are demonstrating that it can. But someone has to be
willing to put the millions up to do it. The cinema biz is run by 30
year old accountants. You have to demonstrate the increased revenue to
them before they will take a risk. That can only be done by building a
70mm theatre and getting the crowds to turn up. When you see a big crowd
of people outside a theatre someone's making a lot of money. It's all
about the profit in this biz.
Anyway, the times are changing. Films can be downloaded and watched at
home. DVDs are about the same price as two cinema tickets and new films
are available within 8 weeks of original release. I have always argued
that digital distribution to cinemas doesn't make sense. As time goes on
it makes less and less sense. Why spend all that money investing in new
equipment for cinemas, which will have to be updated every two years,
when you could send the product direct to the viewer and cut out the
middle man? Once you've digitised the product just send it to the
customer. Only 25% of a film's revenue comes from cinema release now. As
years go on that figure will decrease I believe I know film fans say
"But people like to go to the cinema", Yes! they do. But Film studios
like to make money. And they'll do it anyway they can.
So the bottom line is this: If cinema is to survive into the 21st
century it will have to offer something special, something the digital
industry can't offer. And something that the customer wants. There has
never been a better time to argue for 70mm presentation. Cinema has to
up its standards as TV pushes its standards up. We've been here before,
in the 50's that's how Cinerama and 70mm came about.
To quote a line form David Lean's superb epic, "Lawrence of Arabia", "Once
you were great, time to be great again".
Good luck and very best wishes to all.
in 70mm reading:
White paper -
Re-introduction of 70mm
To find the thread, go to
Film-Tech Forums ╗ Film Handler's Forum ╗ 70 vs. DC
5 pm / 17:00 Pictureville Sunday 12th March,
please gather in the foyer
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