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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 2006

Read more at
in70mm.com
The 70mm Newsletter
Edited by: Chris O'Kane Date: 26 March 2006
Dear Thomas,

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.
 
More in 70mm reading:

White paper -
Re-introduction of 70mm

Workshop

Widescreen Weekend

Internet link:

To find the thread, go to
Film-Tech
╗ 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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