The Lost World of 70mm Theatres - Some Comments
The 70mm Newsletter
by: Peter Mason, Australia.
15 November 2005
I've just recently read the article "The Lost World of 70mm Theatres"
and would like to make a few comments about some of the issues raised.
The first "70mm epic " to be shown at the BARCLAY (Sydney) was
not "LAWRENCE of ARABIA", as claimed. Its season commenced on 16th August
1963 and it played until the end of October 1963 when Lawrence
premiered. It was advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald of 16th August
1963 as being "filmed and presented in
In relation to the claim that Warner Bros. was considering the ASCOT
Theatre as a possible venue for the Sydney season of "MY FAIR LADY"; the
ASCOT Theatre wasn't even built when "MY FAIR LADY" premiered on 28th July
1965 at the CENTURY Theatre, Sydney, so I am somewhat puzzled as to how
it could have been considered as a possible venue. The Ascot theatre
opened on 12th May 1966, 10 months after Sydney's MFL premiere.
In relation to the differences between the 70mm and 35mm prints of "South Pacific" (1958).
The initial preview print of "South Pacific", was 181 minutes (all times
are inclusive of overture, entr'acte and exit music) but Twentieth
Century Fox deleted 10 minutes from this print and changed the first few
scenes so that the United states 70mm prints featured the "Bloody Mary"
scene before the Emile (Rossano Brazzi), Nellie (Mitzi Gaynor) Plantation
scene. Thus the American premiere print was 171 minutes. After the film
opened to less than good reviews it was decided to cut the foreign
prints, and the 70mm foreign prints were cut to 160 mins inclusive but
these prints retained the original continuity the Broadway continuity)
and when the 35mm prints were eventually produced they were exactly the
same as the 70mm foreign prints except that the overture, entr'acte and
exit music were deleted. These prints ran 150 minutes.
I am 95% certain that the 70mm print that played at the MAYFAIR(Sydney)
was the shorter print, the FILM WEEKLY (a trade paper) of January 1959
lists the film as 17,105 ft and 153 minutes, the Australasian Exhibitor
on the other hand lists the film as 17,105ft and 171 minutes. According
to my calculations 17,105 feet of 70mm film equals 152 minutes. Are
there any readers out there who may have seen SOUTH PACIFIC either at
the MAYFAIR in Sydney or the ESQUIRE in Melbourne who can verify
whether it was the long or short prints that played in the initial
release in Australia.
The longer version featured a scene towards the end of Part 1 where
Emile (rossano Brazzi places Nellie's cape over his head and sings a
comical version of "I'm goin to Wash that man right outa my head". A
full list of the differences between the two versions can be found on
the Internet Movie database us.imdb.com "South Pacific" (1958) Click onto
"alternate versions" on the left of screen.
I would agree with Ian that the 70mm screen at the PARIS (Sydney) was
small but then again the first 70mm screen at the MAYFAIR(Sydney) was
according to the AUSTRALIAN EXHIBITOR 36ft wide by 17ft high and curved
to a depth of 4ft. The screen at the CENTURY was only 32ft and the
FORUM's 70mm screen was about 38ft. The BARCLAY was slightly better with
a 42ft width.
The only two Sydney 70mm theatres with decent size 70mm screens were the
PLAZA and the ASCOT. The PLAZA originally had a 51ft CinemaScope screen
and when CINERAMA was installed there in September 1958 this was
enlarged to 76ft around the 146 degrees curve and 28ft high.
When single lens 70MM CINERAMA was installed in December 1964, the same
screen was used but 2 years later in December 1966 this screen was
replaced with a 71ft(around the curve) by 29ft high solid screen. At
this time the curvature was reduced to about 115 degrees. In 1968
movable masking was fitted so that all formats of 35mm and 70mm could be
shown at the PLAZA.
There were two sets of 70mm lenses, one set for 70mm CINERAMA and the
the others were for "normal"
70mm which had a screen size of about 56ft. The ASCOT had a 70MM screen
of approximately 50ft.
In relation to the article 70mm in New York by Jonathan Kleefield, 70mm
blow-ups of "Doctor Zhivago" were of exceptional quality because of the
introduction of a new color negative by Eastman Kodak designated Eastman
Color negative 5251. This film had substantially better quality
including much finer grain than the film it replaced, Eastman Color Neg.
5250 (which was used to film "Lawrence of Arabia") "Doctor Zhivago" was
filmed on this new negative and this along with the fact that
liquid-gate printing was employed and the original camera negative
rather than a duplicate neg, produced 70mm blow-ups of such superlative
quality that even the film's Director of Photography stated that he
could not tell the difference between the two.
These days of course, lab technicians would be horrified at the prospect
of producing perhaps 200 prints from the original negative, many have
expressed their disbelief and surprise to me that in the 50's and 60's
this was routine practice, I'm surprised that the insurance companies
would allow it.
in 70mm reading:
The Lost World of 70mm Theatres
70mm in Sydney
Cinerama at the Melbourne Plaza
Cinerama At the Plaza
This article originally appeared in CINEMARECORD, #47 published
quarterly. It is the magazine of the Melbourne-based
Cinema and Theatre
Historical Society (Victoria)
RE: Ian Hanson's LOST WORLD OF 70MM
I noticed that Peter Mason has mentioned some errors in Ian's article. I
wish to add mine which I found in the article.
1) HAMLET was not the longest running film in 70mm. That belonged to the
Russian epic WAR AND PEACE which ran 507 minutes
2) DIVINE MADNESS was not the first film shown in 70mm at the STATE theatre
(in Sydney, Australia) That honor went to THE THREE MUSKETEERS which
preceded DM by a month ( shown at the Sydney Film Festival) .It was even
announced at the festival that it was the first 70mm film screened there. I
know as I was there for the screening.
3) Ian also talks about OLIVER being in 70mm only during its re-release.
However it was shown in 70mm in its initial release in 1968 in Perth
(Western Australia). I know as I saw it there and it was also advertised as
being screened in 70mm at the time. It is also probable that it was shown in
other cities in 70mm initially as well.
70mm Films in
Sydney by Mr. Peter Fraser
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