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Portland, Oregon USA 70mm Update
Mission Accomplished

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Morgan Montague Date: 01.04.2015
Since I last wrote about the Hollywood Theatre in Portland back in October 2014, the theatre has completed its 70mm restoration project and to great success. This weekend, large format film began running again through the projectors at the cinema, with 5 Sold Out performances of "2OO1: A Space Odyssey". Originally, only 1 performance was scheduled, which sold out immediately. To meet the demand another performance was added and it too sold out. And then another, and so on. Community response was simply overwhelming.

Dan Halsted, restoration project originator and theatre programmer, stated that about 2,000 attended this weekend and easily another 2,000 seats could have been sold had the run been longer.

My wife and I attended the Saturday, March 21st 7:00 PM showing, having arrived at 5:30 PM to secure seats in the "sweet spot" area. While queuing up, we had perfect Portland weather which allowed the enthusiastic standees a chance to share cinema technology / science fiction / Kubrick knowledge and fandom. Upon entry each patron was handed a 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" (140mm x 210mm) program briefly explaining the Hollywood Theatre history from its 1926 opening to this 70mm revival of "2OO1" this month. It also covered facts about the film, and 70mm in general. Once in the auditorium, everyone went searching for their favorite vantage point. As people took to their seats a video crew was documenting the event for future theatre promotion, which made the event seem even more special than it already was.
More in 70mm reading:

Help the Hollywood Theatre Bring 70mm Film Back to Portland!

"We keep you alive to serve this ship. Row well, and live."

Internet link:

Local press links about 70mm at the Hollywood:



Dan Halsted in front of the the large, curved screen speaking for a few minutes. He thanked the community for its fundraising contributions.

Finally, 7:00 PM rolls around and Dan Halsted went up before the large, curved screen and spoke for a few minutes. He thanked the community for its fundraising contributions. Originally, they targeted $7,000 for the project, but more than double the amount was raised. Overachieving the target was a good thing since it turned out the extra funds were needed. Major sponsor ship also came from Koerner Camera Systems.

Before this undertaking the last presentation in 70mm here was in May 1986 with the short run of "Revolution", the Hugh Hudson picture starring Al Pacino. Since that time, one projector was removed, and lenses, mag. heads., guides, etc., started to go missing. Mr. Halsted had his work cut out for him.
He said he made great use of his many contacts in the film world to locate this now rare equipment, as well as using eBay for some of the part sourcing. He sang the praises of the AAII and gave a special thanks to the engineers from NW Projection who put it all back together. These two engineers / magicians are Joel Miller and Eric Morris and they coaxed every last bit of performance from the system: they raised the screen masking a few feet higher and tweaked the surround and stage sound to be as absolutely as exquisite as it can get. The audience was treated to superb picture quality with the directional dialog and effects from the all-encompassing 6 track mix.
People lining up to see 70mm.

Joel and Eric are to be given an additional praise for also manning the booth during the run. Just like when I saw "2OO1" on its first run in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Cinerama theatre in 1968, the film was run reel-to-reel in a 2 man booth. Having seen this film in 70mm over 25 times I know where almost all the changeovers are, and each and every handoff was flawlessly performed by the engineers. You don't see the changeover (unless you are a film boffin looking for it) but, instead have a seamless presentation. Today, it is rare to see actual film in the cinema. Rarer than that is to see 70mm. And even rarer still to see reel-to-reel (changeover) projection and with such absolute professionals in the booth!

For more information about their fine work at the Hollywood, please check out their facebook page.
Dan further explained the history of 70mm at the Hollywood Theatre. The AAII's first use at the theatre was the run of "Solomon and Sheba" which began December 25th, 1959 (my earlier article mistakenly reported "Can-Can" as the premiere of wide film). He also had to explain to the audience what an Overture was since a good many folks in the crowd had never had a road show experience having been born after that era. However, respectful silence was observed for the Overture with the auditorium lights appropriately dimmed.

Following the modernized MGM logo came 2 1/2 hours of cinematic magic complete with the Intermission, Entr'acte, and full Exit music. The print from Warner Bros. was in extremely good shape, was full color and perfect sounding. The road show experience was back!

The most magical aspect of the film is its ability almost 50 years later to inspire conversation, awe, curiosity, and provoke the mind as evidenced by the talk I overheard during Intermission and after the film's ending. For all its technical wizardry, of which there is plenty, it tells a great story that is masterfully executed. And this is not an experience to be had on YouTube with a laptop or even in a large home theatre. This film is best served as a communal experience and with all the elements 70mm provides to evoke the mythic and ancient cords of mystery in our being.
This is an auspicious start for the theatre's 70mm program and the future looks bright for other showings.

A final note: one of the big takeaways from this event is the power of community and what can be accomplished. I invite others around the world to try something similar in their area. Make use of tools like kickstarter.com to fund a campaign to keep celluloid alive. Here's an example of an old neighborhood theatre I love which has successfully used kickstarter to convert to digital.

No law says we can't do the same for 70mm.

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Updated 07-01-23