Widescreen In Malaya
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Alain Dorange, Malaysia||Date: 18.05.2017|
|Currently, we see occasional news articles and items about Malaysia, but this is a relatively new geopolitical name, and it was known as "Malaya" for much of the 20th century. Malaya was a British Federal State composed of what are today Malaysia and Singapore. Malaysia became independent on August 31st 1957 and its island (Pulau Singapura) became an independent Republic on August 9th 1965. Malaya (and also Japan and Hong Kong) did experience the the widescreen "revolution" of processes from Europe and the US more or less at the same time as the rest of the world. The Hong Kong Studios were already producing 150 to 200 films yearly which were primarily exported to Malaya, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea and the various Chinatowns of Europe, North America and Australasia. In Malaya, the movie theatres were mostly owned by two Chinese families:|
• The Shaw Brothers (Mr Run Me and Mr Run Run Shaw) originally from Shanghai.
• The Cathay Organization owned by Mr Loke Wan Tho, a Malaysian Chinese.
Both organisations built their flagship theatres in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and then expanded to the cities of Penang, Ipoh, Melaka, Johore, Alor Setar and Kota Bharu. Later came other companies such as the En Wah Organisation Golden Village. In each city, the major theatres would be bearing the same names:
• For Shaw Brothers: Lido, Capitol, Rex, Prince, Roxy, Globe, Royal.
• For Cathay Organization: Cathay, Odeon, Majestic, Ruby, Golden.
Malaya witnessed the widescreen innovations as follows: Fox Grandeur (but only in 35mm, like most all other countries), CinemaScope, 3-strip Cinerama, Todd-AO, other 70mm processes and the so-called Super Cinerama with one lens.
I - Fox Grandeur: " The Big Trail " (1931)
Fox always had a strong presence in Asia. The local newspapers were talking about widescreen and Grandeur since November 1929, mentioning a screen of 17m x 12m with life-size pictures and "perfect" definition. A Fox representative from the US came to Singapore by the end of 1929, supposedly to make arrangements for this Grandeur projection. We all know that finally, the Grandeur project did not materialize with the exception of two theatres in the US only. So, in Singapore, “The Big Trail" premiered at the Alhambra Theatre (which was advertised as the best sound in Town) on March 20th 1931. At that time, the Alhambra was the biggest name in Singapore (before the arrivals of Shaw and Cathay) and were fully committed to take all the Fox movies for the seasons 1931/1932. No expense was spared for the advertising of "The Big Trail”:
• The Big Trail - Bringing to life the romantic and inspiring story of the vision, courage, epic heroism of those hardy souls who dared to follow the setting sun and built an Empire.
• The Big Trail - Across the sand blown desert, through mountain passes, down the walls of river canyons, blazing a glorious path to a heaven of happiness and love, twenty thousand courageous souls, fighting, loving, hating, dreaming, scheming.
• The Big Trail - Hunger and thirst dogging their path, the treachery of savages an ever-present peril, death in angry rivers to be faced, but onward, ever onward they press, every scene a climax, every climax magnificent, here is imperishable drama.
• The Big Trail - You'll see and hear the frenzied hordes of savages sweeping to the attack of the dauntless defenders of the wagon train, thrill to the breathless excitement of a thundering herd of buffalo stampeding.
• The Big Trail - They need no dedication these men and women who blazed the Big Trail, the mountains are their monuments, the desert is hallowed with their bones, theirs was the march magnificent.
• The Big Trail - The most important picture ever made.
In point of fact, the Grandeur concept would take another 22 years to finally become a realized dream with the arrival of Todd-AO.
II - Widescreen Fever (1953)
On September 1953, the Malayan newspapers were stating the local Cinema Industry had failed to implement any new improvement during the last 20 years: squarish screen and poor sound and this was a correct statement. However, in October 1953, the Cathay Organisation did present on a convex elongated screen of 12m x 7m the movie "Shane”. The secret of this "miracle" was the cropping of the picture to get a ratio of:1.8:1 in order to have a wider panoramic view. Only the major theatres such as Cathay, New Alhambra, Capitol, Odeon and Rex practiced this variation and applied the term of "wide screen". The Rex was advertising the biggest screen in Singapore:14m x 9m. The Capitol had a screen of 11m x 7m only, but had a battery of 20 speakers through the auditorium. Anyway, true CinemaScope was pointing its nose this way and would put a stop to all this nonsense.
|More in 70mm reading:|
Gallery: Widescreen In Malaya - Newspaper Advertising
Henri Chretien and his "Cinerama" at the Expo 1937, Paris
"Great is my Country" in Kinopanorama
VistaVision presented in Horizontal Projection
|III - The Debuts of CinemaScope (1953)|
The first demonstration of CinemaScope for the Far East Countries (actually, from Japan, the US is the "Far East"!) took place on October 4th 1953 at the Roxy theatre in Hong Kong. All the representatives of Japan, Philippines, Formosa (now Taiwan), Indonesia, Siam (now Thailand) and Malaya were present. The Malayan manager of the 20th Century Fox, Mr S. A. Rao proclaimed: "CinemaScope is terrific". So, in Hong Kong, the Roxy theatre (Victoria) and also the Broadway theatre (Kowloon New Territory) premiered the film "The Robe" on December 24th 1953. Hong Kong would not be showing 70mm until "Sleeping Beauty” in Technirama 70 at the Royal Theatre from February 4th to February 26th 1960. In Malaya (Singapore) the CinemaScope demonstration took place at the Odeon (Cathay Organisation) on December 11th 1953 with 800 guests invited. This demonstration (the same as the one from Hong Kong) was composed of:
• Coronation Parade (Queen Elizabeth II)
• 20 Century Fox Orchestra
• The Robe (extracts)
• Prince Valiant (extracts)
• King of the Khyber Riffles (extracts)
Those demonstration reels came from Sydney where a previous presentation had taken place. At this Odeon, the projection booth was equipped with 4 Gaumont Kalee projectors equipped with magnetic heads. The curved screen was 17.5m x 7.3m. This Odeon theatre was the flagship of the Cathay Organisation and was called the: "Showplace of the Islands". After this demonstration, the reels were sent to Tokyo for a presentation on December 15th 1953. In Malaya the public premieres of the first CinemaScope film, "The Robe" took place on:
• December 23rd 1953 at the Odeon Singapore (Asian premiere).
• December 26th 1953 at the Odeon Kuala Lumpur
On April 20th 1954, Fox and Cathay made a joint announcement: "Our competitors (Shaw Brothers) claimed that they are actually introducing the real CinemaScope, at the Capitol theatre shortly, the public should know:
1 - That Cinemascope is a 29th Century Fox trademark only recently leased to other distributing Companies such as Warner Bros.
2 - That the Warner Bros film: “The Command” was released under the CinemaScope trademark by permission of 20th Century Fox.
3 - That the CinemaScope equipment made in Britain and installed in 5 Cathay Organisation theatres is precisely the same as that used in all the leading theatres in Great Britain and the United States.
4 - That "The Robe”, “King of the Khyber Rifles”, “How to Marry a Millionaire", "Beneath the 12 Mile Reef, “Hell and High Water" and all future CinemaScope releases are all genuine CinemaScope productions.
This announcement in the local newspapers was due to the fact that Mr Jack Sharp from the Shaw Brothers had said, in October 1953, that CinemaScope would offer no improvement to their WarnerScopes "which is as good if not better than CinemaScope". Ultimately, at the end "The Command" was advertised as being presented in "CinemaScope". All that fuss for a movie which was shot actually using the anamorphic Vistarama lenses from Simpson Optical Manufacturing Company, so it was neither a CinemaScope or a WarnerScope!! In any case the local public did not bother about those "marketing moves" as they were happy to watch a wide screen movie regardless of the process name.
IV - VistaVision (1954)
Like with many other countries, the horizontal VistaVision was never run in the Far East. A demonstration in standard vertical 35mm took place on June 22nd 1954 in Japan at the Ernie Pyle theatre (previously called Takarazuka before the American occupation) in Tokyo. Then the same demonstration took place in Singapore at the Cathay on June 25th 1954, presented by William Holden and Louis H. Mesenkop of Paramount Pictures. Subsequently all VistaVision movies were shown in standard 35mm. In January 1957 the Rank Organisation was looking for a pretty Malay girl and a boy to act in the movie "Wyndom's Way" with Peter Finch. It was intended to be shot in VistaVision, but ended up to be in standard 35mm with a ratio of 1.75:1. Then the selected Malay girl was replaced by a Scottish actress: Mary Ure!! "The Ten Commandments” from 1956 and photographed in VistaVision was shown in 70mm at the Golden theatre (Singapore) only on March 14th 1974 but released many times prior to that in usual 35mm.
V - CinemaScope 55 (1956)
Same story as for the VistaVision: "Carousel" and "The King and I" were projected in 35mm and the local audience did not really notice a major difference between CinemaScope and the 55 one. "Carousel" opened at the Odeon Singapore on June 7th 1956. "The King and I” also at the Odeon on October 5th 1956. Prior to those, there was a CinemaScope 55 demonstration on May 15th 1956 at the Odeon (SG) and the following advert could be found in the local newspapers:
"To the Public, 20th Century Fox by courtesy of the Cathay organisation announce a demonstration of CinemaScope 55: the newest and greatest advancement in motion picture photography. Presentation Tuesday, May 15th 1956 at 9.30AM, free admission tickets are now available at the Odeon office."
The 25 minutes demonstration, narrated by Darryl. F. Zanuck, was stating the 55mm compared to 35mm has eliminated the distorting and fade off at each end of the screen. There is no more distortion, either standing close to the right or left of the screen.
|VI - Specially built and equipped to show "Around the World in 80 days", this is the new cinema: The Sky theatre of the Shaw Brothers (1958)|
To commemorate the 30 years of their show business ln Malaya and Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak), the Shaw Brothers: Run Run and Run Me built a new theatre at the Great World Amusement Park in Singapore and named it: Sky. This was their 100th theatre and the construction started in 1957, to be completed in January 1958. It was praised as being the most modern and luxurious cinema in the Far East with 1156 seats. Their first movie to be shown here was: “Around the World in 80 Days". The curved screen was 18m x 9m and the 3 projectors are the Simplex XL with curved gates and water cooled. Those Simplex are the first ones installed in Malaya. There are 3 speakers behind the screen and 36 surround speakers.
"Around the World in 80 Days" was not shown in Todd-AO but in 35mm. In order for Mike Todd to increase the play-dates of this show, he needed to have an alternative to 70mm, so "80 Days" had been prepared to convert to 35mm. A specially built optical unit, consisting of a prime lens and an anamorphic one in combination, is to be used to keep the screen ratio of 2.20:1.
The projection lenses were from Panavision of California. The 35mm is provided with a four-track stereo soundtrack. The Todd-AO sound set-up calls for splitting the surround speakers. Aside from the 3 speakers behind the screen, there are a number of surround speakers depending upon the volume of the theatre. So, there is a provision on the fourth magnetic track for controlling the surround speakers and directing the sound which requires the use of a Perspecta Integrator, for Left - Back - Right directions. 35mm were also provided for some other cities of the Asia Pacific Region such as Sydney, Tokyo, Manila and some others. The movie ran from February 15th 1958 to April 10th 1958 which was exceptional to last this long here. Should Mike Todd have remained alive longer, his following Todd-AO projects would have been "War and Peace", "Don Quixote" and "Moby Dick”.
|VII - The 3-strip Cinerama engagements in Singapore (1959-1960)|
Initially in August 1955, for the International Fair of Jakarta (Indonesia), a US Pavilion with a Cinerama theatre was scheduled but was then canceled. 3-strip projection became a reality in December 1958 at the Constitution Fair of Bangkok (Thailand) with the showing of "This is Cinerama" in open air at night.
Back in Malaya, since Cathay had introduced CinemaScope, it was the time for the Shaw Brothers to also innovate. They secured the exclusive rights to present the 3-strip Cinerama in Malaya, first in Singapore then in Kuala Lumpur. They converted the Sky theatre into a Cinerama one in early June 1959. Two representatives from the Cinerama Company: H. D. Perry and F. W. Richmond came to the island and claimed the Sky would become a permanent Cinerama theatre (the reality would be quite different). Tons of equipment were shipped from the US to Singapore. A proper Cinerama screen was installed (146 degrees curvature) with a chord of 18m. Three projection booths were built to accommodate the Century projectors. The Premiere, advertised truthfully as being the South East Asia premiere, took place on Tuesday, July 28th 1959 at 9.15 PM and was for the profit of the SATA (Singapore Anti Tuberculosis Association). Most of the Premieres in Asia at that time were always connected to various Charity Associations. Many distinguished guests from Malaya did attend such as Tunku Abdul Ratman Putra Al-Haj the first Prime Minister of the newly independent country and many others from Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand. The reviews were positive but not that great. Some found the sound too noisy and some critics stated the most noticeable defect was the joins on the screen (critics have to criticize since they do not know anything else) and also said that having seen Cinerama in London and Tokyo, the technique has improved: How could it be? At least the positive ones said Cinerama was amazing and gigantic. The five travelogues engagements were as follows:
• "This is Cinerama"- July 28th to September 29th 1959.
• "Cinerama Holiday" - September 30th to December 3rd 1959.
• "Seven Wonders of the World" - December 4th 1959 to February 24th 1960.
• "South Seas Adventure" - February 25th to April 28th 1960.
• "Search for Paradise" - April 29th to May 29th 1960.
After a "success" of only 44 weeks, Shaw Brothers decided to move Cinerama to Kuala Lumpur. Consequently the next 3-strips films were not shown in their original format but in 35mm Scope for: "How the West was Won" at the Lido on February 10th 1965. "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" at the Orchard from May 5th to May 24th 1965. And 70mm for: “Russian Adventure" which was the local title for "Cinerama's Russian Holiday" [“Cinerama's Russian Adventure", ed] at the Odeon but only for few days from October 29th 1966 to November 9th 1966. "The Best of Cinerama" was never shown.
|VIII - Todd-AO is coming (1959)|
Since Shaw Brothers had been promoting the Cinerama process, their rival Cathay (Mr Loke Wan Tho) picked up on the Todd-AO one. Todd-AO followed the steps of Cinerama by less than 3 weeks. A Todd-AO demonstration (a real Todd-AO this time) took place on July 2nd 1959 at the Cathay Singapore. This demonstration was actually the short "The Miracle of Todd-AO”. Again, this was a Premiere for the South East Asia region. The imported projectors were from Cinemeccanica and a new curved screen of 17.5m x 8.3m and 20m along the curve was installed. Regarding the question: What is the difference between Cinerama and Todd-AO", the answer from Mr Loke Wan Tho was: "Todd-AO is Cinerama without the seams, one camera with 70mm fills out the screen whereas Cinerama uses 3 separate cameras, each covering a third of the screen". The two competitors Shaw and Cathay were engaged in a Widescreen War. The first Todd-AO movie shown in Asia at this Cathay theatre was: “South Pacific" (plus the short "The Miracle of Todd-AO”) which had its Asia Premiere on Tuesday, August 11th 1959 (the previous Todd-AO presentation in Asia had been in December 28th 1956 at the Shinjuku Stadium of Tokyo: “Oklahoma!"). In Malaya, the local preview advertising was stating:
1927 - First sound picture: “The Jazz Singer".
1929 - First public showing of Widescreen.
1933 - First public showing of Stereoscopic (3D).
1952 - First public showing of Cinerama.
1953 - First public showing of CinemaScope.
Soon "The Perfect Show in Todd-AO"
South Pacific Todd-AO was very well received and many Todd-AO movies followed afterwards. The Todd-AO Premiere in Kuala Lumpur took place at the Odeon on Wednesday, November 11th 1959 also with "South Pacific”. After 34 days, more than 100.000 Malaysians had attended this show. Mr Richard Yeo (Odeon KL manager) said this film might exceed the record held by "The Ten Commandments” shown last year for 8 weeks (in standard 35mm of course). In Malaya, Todd-AO was better received than Cinerama.
|IX - The 3-strip Cinerama engagements in Kuala Lumpur (1960)|
The Cinerama equipment left Singapore in June 1960 to be installed at the Capitol Theatre in Kuala Lumpur also belonging to the Shaw Brothers. This theatre had a capacity of 1568 seats (400 more than the Sky) and had been opened in February 1956 by the Sultan of Selangor. The screen used for the Sky was installed at the Capitol. In the local newspapers (The New Straits Times), we could read: "From July 4th to July 16th 1960, the Capitol will be temporary closed due to the extensive renovation for the installation of Cinerama". The Pre-opening Premiere and the five travelogues were presented as follows:
• "This is Cinerama": Pre-opening Premiere on July 22nd 1960 (Friday) at 9.30 PM. The entire proceeds will go to the F.M.O.C for the Olympic Games in Roma. Then from July 23rd to August 31st 1960.
• "Cinerama Holiday": September 1st to September 20th 1960.
On September 9th, there was an extra 35mm movie: "Olympic Games in Roma: Finals of women swimming and diving in slow motion. This extra was also shown at the Rex KL.
• "Seven Wonders of the World": September 21st to October 17th 1960.
• "South Seas Adventure": October 18th to November 15th 1960.
• "Search for Paradise": November 16th to November 30th 1960.
Then the Cinerama equipment were removed from the Capitol and shipped to Christchurch/New Zealand. This was the end of the 3-strip Cinerama in Malaya. The Sky in Singapore has been demolished a long time ago along with the entire Great World Amusement Park to give place to a shopping mall. The building of the Capitol in Kuala Lumpur is still there and used as a supermarket (how original!). The Balcony is still there (filled up with crates), the wide projection booth is now a storage unit, and the large open door at the front shows clearly the screen location.
X - The Super Cinerama engagements (1965) in SG (Singapore) and Kl (Kuala Lumpur)
Since the Shaw Brothers still held the rights for the 3-strip Cinerama, Cathay also took the rights for the one lens Cinerama, called Super Cinerama in Malaya and installed it into 2 theaters: one in Singapore (SG): The Orchard, and one in Kuala Lumpur (KL): The Pavilion. After having played "The Sound of Music" 333 times from July 21st 1965 in the Scope format, the Orchard theatre closed on November 1st up to November 10th 1965 to be equipped for Super Cinerama with their first show: “The Hallelujah Trail”. In the local newspaper The Straits Times of November 9th 1965, we could read: “Singapore has the biggest screen in the Pacific (28m x 10.7m and 23m on the cord) to show a film projected under what is described as the New Miracle Single Lens Projector: the Super Cinerama.". This Orchard (Cathay Organisation) theatre was just opened at the beginning of 1965 and had the first escalator in the region and only 10 months after opening had been renovated for the showing of Super Cinerama. Sound equipment and projectors were from Gaumont-Kalee. In April 1966, Cathay converted their Pavilion in Kuala Lumpur.
An aborted project in 1963 with Seven Film and Alexander P.C Company of Roma and Antara Films Ltd of Singapore were supposed to produce a film entirely shot in Singapore in Super Cinerama. This 2 hours long film was going to be about the horrors of the Pulau Senang massacre, a historical event which took place in July 1963. Pulau Senang was a prison on the island and the prisoners revolted and killed the wardens. The remaining Super Cinerama engagements were as followes:
• "The Hallelujah Trail" at Orchard (SG): November 11th 1965 to January 6th 1966. at Pavilion (KL): From June 19th 1966.
• "The Greatest Story Ever Told” at Orchard (SG): March 28th to May 4th 1966. at Pavilion (KL): Dates unknown.
• "Grand Prix" at Orchard (SG): March 30th to May 11th 1967.Shown in connection with the Singapore, Grand Prix. at Pavilion (KL): From July 19th 1966.
• "2001 a Space Odyssey" at Orchard (SG): September 11th to October 3rd 1968. at Pavilion (KL): Dates unknown.
• "Ice Station Zebra" at Orchard (SG): September 3rd to September 31st 1969. at Pavilion (KL): Dates unknown. The other Cinerama movies were shown but not in Super Cinerama.
|XI - The other 70mm engagements|
Here we are showing the lists by processes; the dates are expressed by Day / Month / Year. The Films are indicated chronologically from their initial year of distribution in their original countries.
11.1 - Todd-AO
"South Pacific” at Cathay (SG): 11-08-59 to 30-09-1959. at Odeon (KL): From 22-10-1959.
"Porgy and Bess" at Cathay (SG) - Was advertised on 21-09-1960 in 70mm and cancelled.
"Cleopatra" at Odeon (SG): 19-12-63 to 10-01-1964.
"The Sound of Music" at Orchard (SG): 20-11-70 to 9-12-1970.
"Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines" at Cathay (SG): 9-2-1966 to 9-3-1966.
"The Agony and Ecstasy" at Odeon (SG): 7-9-66 to 21-9-1966.
"Star!" at Orchard (SG): 6-11-68 to 28-11-1968. at Pavilion (KL): From 6-11-1968 under the title "The Star".
"Hello Dolly!" at Orchard (SG): 18-12-69 to 8-1-1970.
"Krakatoa, East of Java" at Lido (SG): From 9-2-1971. Advertised as Super Cinerama but the Lido has no Cinerama screen.
The following Todd-AO movies were shown in Scope format but not in 70mm:
"Oklahoma!" at Rex (SG): From 11-3-1957. at Pavilion (KL): From 12-3-1957.
"Around the World in 80 Days" at Sky (SG): see paragraph VI.
"Can-Can" at Orchard (SG): From 17-7-1962.
"The Alamo" at Capitol (SG): 24-5-61 to 22-6-1961. at Federal (KL): From 27-7-1961.
"Doctor Dolittle" at Orchard (SG): 14-12-1967 to 10-1-1968. at Odeon (KL): From 14-12-1967.
"Airport" at Capitol (SG): From 9-10-1970.
"The Last Valley" at Capitol (SG): 15-7-71 to 21-7-1971.
|11.2 - MGM 65 / Ultra Panavision 70|
"Ben Hur" at Orchard (SG): 16-1-69 to 14-4-1969.
"Mutiny in the Bounty" at Lido (SG): 6-3-63 to 24-4--1963.
"The Fall of the Roman Empire" at Odeon (SG): 16-7-64 to 25-8-1964.
"Battle of the Bulge" at Capitol (SG): 25-5-66 to 18-6-1966. at Capitol (KL): From 25-5-1966.
The following movies were shown but not in 70mm:
"Raintree County" at Sky and Rex (SG): From 1-5-1958.
"It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" at Capitol (SG): From 23-12-1964. at Federal (KL): Unknown date.
"Khartoum" at Lido (SG): 23-12-1966 to 11-1-1967. at Federal (KL): From 23-12-1966.
11.3 - Super Technirama 70
"Solomon and Sheba”: The South East Asian Premiere was scheduled on December 22nd 1959 at the Lido (SG) and banned at the last minute by the censor board finding the movie too sexy just after having watching the preview!
"Sleeping Beauty" at Cathay (SG): From 25-12-1959.
"Spartacus" at Capitol (SG): 27-7-61 to 31-8-1961. at Federal (KL): From 25-9-1961.
"King of Kings" at Lido (SG): 10-5-62 to 13-6-1962.
"El Cid" at Sky and Roxy (SG): 3-10-63 to 31-10-1963.
"The Savage Innocents" at Cathay (SG): From 4-1-1962.
"Barabbas" at Sky and Rex (SG): 11-8-64 to 2-12-1964.
"55 Days at Peking" at Odeon and Palace (SG): From 23-2-1966.
"Custer of the West" at Lido: 18-11-71 to 30-11-19771.Wrongly advertised as Super Cinerama as the screen of the Lido was not a Cinerama one.
"The Black Cauldron" at Cathay (SG): 22-11-85 to 5-12-1985
The following movies were shown but not in Technirama 70mm:
"Buddha" at Odeon (SG): From 10-9-1969.
"Imperial Venus" at Odeon Bangsar (KL): From December 1968.
"Hercules and the Captive Women" at Sky and Rex(SG): 22-5-62 to 4-7-1962.
"Circus World" at Odeon and Palace (SG): From 28-4-1965. at Cathay (KL): From 28-4-1965.
"The Long Ships" at Sky and Rex (SG): From 10-8-1966.
"Zulu" at Cathay and Palace (KL): From 4-9-1964.
|11.4 - Super Panavision 70|
"The Big Fisherman" at Cathay (SG): From 2-11-1960. at Odeon (KL): From 3-2-1961. Wrongly advertised as being in Technirama 70 in both places.
"Lawrence of Arabia" at Sky and Rex (SG): 13-3-64 to 13-4-1964. at Capitol (KL): From 5-3-1964.
"My Fair Lady" at Lido (SG): 16-12- 1964 to 30-1-1965. at Capitol (KL): From 16-12-1964.
"Lord Jim" at Cathay" (SG): 10-11-65 to 3-12-1965.
"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" at Lido (SG): From 12-4-1974.
"MacKenna's Gold" at Orchard (SG): From 4-4-1974.
The following movies were shown but not in 70mm:
"West Side Story" at Capitol (SG): From 23-8-1963. at Federal (KL): From 4-4-1963
"Cheyenne Autumn" at Capitol (SG): 6-3-65 to 17-3-1965.
"Song of Norway" at Lido (SG): From 1-12-1971.
"Ryan's Daughter" at Orchard (SG): From 8-4-1971. at Odeon (KL): From 7-4-1971.
"Tron" at Orchard (SG): 10-3-83 to 23-3-1983.
"The Horsemen" (partially Panavision 70 and blow up 35mm at Odeon SG): From 27-10-1971.
11.5 - MCS 70 - Super Panorama
"The Black Tulip" at Odeon (SG): 6-2-65 to 17-2-1965.
The following movies were shown but not in 70mm:
"Flying Clipper" at Palace (SG): 25-12-1970 (one night only).
"Sheherazade" at Odeon and Palace (SG): From 18-10-1964. at Cathay (KL): From 11-11-1964.
"Savage Pampas" at Odeon (SG): From 15-2-1968. at Cathay (KL): During March 1968.
11.6 - Sovscope 70
"The Great Battle" at Odeon (SG): 11-11-71 to 19-11-1971.
The following movie was shown but not in 70mm:
"The Story of the Flaming Years" at Cathay (SG): From 21-7-1966.
11.7 - Kinopanorama
"Russian Adventure" at Odeon (SG): 29-10-66 to 9-11-1966. Just shown in 70mm (not 3-strip, obviously) since all relevant equipment was gone by the end of 1960.
11.8 - Dimension 150
The following movies were shown but not in 70mm:
"The Bible in the Beginning" at Odeon (SG): From 16-11-1966.
"Patton" at Orchard (SG): 30-4-70 to 3-6-1970.
|XII - Blow Up Engagements (list incomplete for Kuala Lumpur so far)|
"Gone With the Wind" at Orchard (SG): From 13-7-1967.
"Julius Caesar" at Cathay (SG): From 23-1-1970.
"Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" at Orchard (SG): From 26-6-1968. at Pavilion (KL): From 20-9-1968.
"The Bridge on the River Kwai" at Orchard (SG): From 11-10-1973.
"The Longest Day" at Orchard (SG): From 17-7-1969.
"Becket" at Cathay (SG): From 14-4-1965.
"Doctor Zhivago" at Orchard (SG): 15-5-66 to 30-7-1966.
"In Harms Way" at Cathay and Palace (SG): From 20-10-1965.
"The Great Race" at Capitol (SG): From 30-3-1966. at Federal (KL): From 30-3-1966.
"The Heroes of Telemark" at Odeon and Palace (SG): From 1-6-1966.
"Around the World under the Sea" at Orchard (SG): 12-5-66 to 26-5-1966.
"Is Paris Burning?" at Odeon (SG): 22-3-1967.
"Camelot” at Lido (SG): From 14-2-1968.
"The Dirty Dozen" at Odeon and Palace (SG): From 21-10-1967.
"Far from the Madding Crowd" at Orchard (SG): 21-2-68 to 13-3-1968.
"Guess Who's Coming For Dinner" at Orchard (SG): From 25-5-1968.
"The Shoes of the Fisherman" at Orchard (SG): From 26-3-1969. at Pavilion (KL): From 5-5-1969.
"Oliver!" at Odeon (SG): From 13-3-1975.
"Guns for San Sebastian" at Orchard (SG): From 24-4-1968.
"Where Eagles Dare" at Odeon (SG): From 8-2-1969.
"Sweet Charity" at Lido (SG): From 27-11-1969.
"Goodbye, Mr Chips" at Orchard (SG): From 26-3-1970.
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" at Orchard (SG): 9-12-1970 to 1-3-1971.
"Waterloo" at Odeon (SG): 7-4-71 to 26-4-1971.
"Raid on Rommel" at Capitol (SG): From 30-9-1971.
"Jesus Christ Superstar" at Golden (SG): From 10-10-1974.
"Earthquake" at Rex (SG): 18-2-76 to 28-7-1976. One of the longest running show in SG (162 days). Cinema International Corporation did a Sensurround Demonstration at the Golden Theatre (SG) on 14-9-1974 in presence of the theatre managers from Australia, New Zealand and 10 others Asian countries. This presentation was conducted by James Corcoran, Sound Director of the 20th Century Fox and assisting Universal's Sound Department.
"That's Entertainment" at Orchard (SG): 20-3-75 to 9-4-1975. at Odeon (KL): In April 1975.
"The Wind and the Lion" at Odeon (SG): 27-11-75 to 17-12-1975.
"Damnation Alley" at Odeon (SG): From 18-10-1978.
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" at Orchard: 23-8-78 to 18-10-1978.
"Star Wars" at Odeon (SG): From 17-5-1978.
|XIII - OMNIMAX in Singapore|
There never was an IMAX here but an OMNIMAX opened on December 10th 1987 at the Singapore Science Center (in the district of Jurong). The dome screen, still existing today, is 625 m▓ on 23 m diameter. It was the first in South East Asia at that time and followed afterward by Hong Kong. There are 276 seats and the first 2 movies shown were:
• "Time Concerto" specially produced for Singapore (11 minutes) by Greg MacGillivray.
• "To Fly!" (27 minutes).
In January 1990, another specially-made movie by MacGillivray-Freeman: "Homeland", to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Republic (22 minutes). In 1990, The Rolling Stones "At the Max" was shown. To avoid shocking some sensitive public, the sound was cut off during one song (cannot remember which one) and we were back to the age of silent movies. This movie was shot in IMAX (flat screen) and OMNIMAX provided the distortions free of charge! The ratio being 1.44:1 for this film, it was not possible to avoid those. There was an intermission since the show was 89 minutes. By the end of 2014, this theatre was closed down for renovation to alter the following:
• The original screen changed to a seamless one (NanoSeam Screen) with 43.5 million perforations for the sound.
• To replace the 15/70 projectors by 5 Digital ones (Christie -4K). It was then re-opened on May 30th 2015 but the magic was gone.
XIV - IMAX in Kuala Lumpur
This theatre was installed at the shopping mall Berjaya Times Square (KL) with a screen of 29m x 21m and 555 seats. The first 2 IMAX movies shown were:
• "Mysteries of Egypt" in 3D.
• "Polar Express" in IMAX DMR 3D.
In 2012, this theatre was taken over by the local movie distribution company: GSC (Golden Screen Company) and converted (as usual) into Digital.
|XV - Some various facts in Malaya |
• The major theatres became fully air conditioned by mid May 1959.
• The DP 70 projectors were only installed at the Odeon (SG).
• The other theatres were mostly equipped with VICTORIA X projectors from Cinemeccanica (Milan). As they were distributed by Rank Precision Industries Ltd (London), the name of Gaumont Kalee was still used for a while.
• "Fantasia” was first shown at the Alhambra in August 1946 with advert: "Fantasia will Amazia"
• "Fantasia was re-released several times including in format SuperScope at the Pavilion (SG) from 7-5-59 to 13-5-1959.
• The movies (widescreen or not) having the longest run in Singapore were:
"Earthquake" 162 days.
"Jaws" 128 days.
"The Gods must be Crazy" 122 days.
"Towering Inferno" 112 days.
"The Last Emperor" 111 days.
"The Sound of Music" 97 days (in Scope format).
"Ben Hur" 89 days (in Scope).
"The Ten Commandments" 83 days (in widescreen).
"The Exorcist" 63 days.
"Thunderball" 55 days.
"Cleopatra" 54 days (in Todd-AO).
"My Fair Lady" 46 days (in Super Panavision 70).
Sadly, 70mm did not score particularly well in Malaya.
• The World Premiere of "Merry Andrew" with Danny Kaye and Pier Angeli took place on February 3rd 1958 at the Cathay (SG) and Odeon (Penang).
• The World Premiere of "Libel" with Olivia de Havilland and Dirk Bogarde took place at the Lido (SG) on October 8th 1959 in MetroScope (2.00:1).
• The World Premiere of "The Way of the Dragon" with Bruce Lee took place at Midnight on November 9th 1972 at 3 theaters simultaneously: Odeon and Cathay and Orchard (SG).
• There was a Cinema 180 at the Seaview Hotel (SG) but just for a short period from 27-4-79 to 15-5-1979 under a tent.
Next time we will talk about Widescreen in Japan.
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