Home of 7OMM in Stuttgart, Germany
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Hans
Haenssler, Stuttgart, Germany
Colm, who had been operating cinemas in Heilbronn and Fellbach before the
Second World War, was the first one who got a licence from the American
occupying forces to open a cinema is Stuttgart in 1946. His first one was
"Die Filmbühne im Universum", actually a makeshift auditorium in the
ruins of the former Universum Cinema, bombed out in 1942 by the Royal Air
Force. In 1946 he moved to a building previously used as an orphanage near
the Charlottenplatz called Planie. There were not too many cinema buildings
left intact after the war, so the business was very good for Mr. Colm and he
was soon able to obtain a ruined site area near the main shopping street of
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Gallery: Atrium Stuttgart Gallery
• Go to PDF 70mm Films Shown At The Atrium
Under the supervision of the well-known architect Hans Kieser, the Atrium
Cinema in a 5-story building was erected during the next 5½ months. The
cinema with balcony was laid out for 730 spectators and was the most
state-of-the-art house in town. Thanks to the knowhow of the architect (Mr
Kieser built more than 500 cinemas during his working life) the projection
booth was in between the lower cinema auditorium and the balcony. So there
was a straight-on view to the screen, no up- or downwards projection
necessary as seen in other cinema buildings in town. For the sound
reproduction the walls were decorated with rarely-used Faserit plasterwork
and a false ceiling with more than 30.000 acoustic holes. Equipped with
Ernemann X projectors and 80 ampere carbon arc light along with Zeiss-Ikon
sound system, the Atrium opened on the 31st October 1952 with the Ernst
Lubitsch comedy "Heaven Can Wait", a 20th Century Fox Picture with
Gene Tierney and Don Ameche. It was running for 2 weeks. At that time the
cinema was showing seven performances each day. Programs usually changed on
Monday and Friday. The first long running attraction, "Gone With The
Wind" started on March 25, 1953 for 9½ weeks. Later on in the history of
the Atrium "Gone With The Wind" would be shown for a week or more,
almost every year.
With television programming taking more and more viewers, the theatre
business went down rapidly. So the answer of the movie industry was
Cinerama, a 3-strip projection system on a big curved screen, along with 7
channels of stereophonic sound. The stereo vinyl record was not yet on the
market. The first film in the new system was "This Is Cinerama",
which opened 30. September 1952 in New York. It was a big event. For smaller
theatres the CINERAMA system was too expensive to install. Instead 20th
Century Fox came up with the French invention by Henri Chrétien who used an
anamorphic lens to squeeze the picture horizontally by a factor of two
during filming. During projection a second lens would unsqueeze the picture
to create a 2,55:1 aspect ratio on the screen. As the first installation in
Stuttgart, The Atrium was equipped with the new technique in March 1954,
showing "The Robe" in CinemaScope and 4-track magnetic sound. Until the end
of 1958 many widescreen titles like "How To Marry A Millionaire",
"Beneath The 12 Mile Reef", "River Of No Return", "The
Gladiators" and "The Egyptian" just to mention a few, were shown.
July 30, 1959 started a major modification for a new cinematic
Cinemiracle. For this, the screen
frame had to be completely renewed in a steel construction, along with the
set design of curtains, and black electronically movable vertical and
horizontal masking for 35, 70mm and Cinemiracle or Cinerama. Part of the
suspended ceiling in front of the stage had to be removed, also the middle
part of the balcony, to give room for the projection beam and three bigger
windows in the projection room. This was to allow the FP20-S projectors to
now be positioned at a greater distance from the walls, due to the mirrors
for projection in between. All these modernizations needed to be done in a
short time. The architect was Hans Kieser again, and the technical equipment
was deliverd by Photo Hildebrand in cooperation with Philips Kinoton in
Munich. The Cinemiracle equipment was lent from Modern Cinema System,
Munich. In the wide-angle cinema, the capacity of the Atrium would be 712
seats, and the impression of the great space-filling picture was
particularly impressive. The screen measured 15 x 6,3 meters and the curve
in the center 1,8 m.
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Gallery: Atrium Stuttgart Gallery
PDF 70mm Films At The Atrium
from the KRRR! 70 film fest in Krnov (Czech Republic) from April 13 -
KRRR! 70mm filmfestival in Krnov/Czech
Republic 8 – 10 April 2011
Cinemiracle/Cinerama in Germany
in70mm.com auf Deutsch
Projectionist Frau Eisenlauer rewinding
the Cinemiracle reels.
A Philips 7 channel amplifier system with 5 front- and 3 surround speakers
on both sides was wired up. Using an inventive special plug-in cable system,
the Cinemiracle projection equipment was able to go into operation within 48
hours for upcoming events. The Atrium in Stuttgart was the
4th 3-strip installation
in Germany. While Munich, Berlin and Hamburg used heavy American Century
projectors with carbon arc light, Stuttgart was the first installation
Philips FP-20S projectors, with the advantage of needing smaller space. The
discharge lamps were operated by a pulsator setting a frequency of 78 hertz,
so there was no need for a shutter in the projector while transporting the
film. The 7 channel stereophonic sound for Cinemiracle or Cinerama was
reproduced from 35mm perforated magnetic fullcoat film, running on a
separate machine synchronized with the 3 picture projectors, via Selsyn
motors. All 4 filmstrips had to be loaded at the same specific starting
cross. In case of a breakdown during the performance, there were edge
numbers on all 4 films to resume the synchronization at the same spot again
and continue the show. While Cinerama normally needed 3 projection booths, Cinemiracle was running the program from only the single projection room.
The center picture B came directly from one projector, while both side
pictures A and C were projected via a mirror system from the opposite side.
This allowed adjustment of the seams by moving the mirror electronically via
remote, since it also had some kind of soft edge covering, minimizing the
two dividing lines. For the operation of Cinemiracle, there were four
projectionists necessary, three standing by the film projectors and one at
the remote control board starting the system and monitoring the picture and
sound during the show. Due to the capacity of the reels of 2800 m, there was
a planned intermission after 60 to 70 minutes to set up the second part of
the show. "Windjammer" was the one and only 3-strip performance in
South Germany at that time, running 23 weeks.
From this date on, all incoming big productions were shown as so called
"Roadshow Presentations", meaning only two performances a day and with
advance ticket sales, souvenir booklet and big advertising in the newspaper.
Sometimes there would be a première with special guests or actors from the
movie. The typical show started with a short featurette, news reel,
commercial advertising and preview trailers. Closing curtain and dimmed
light for the overture of the main film and opening the curtain with the
first picture of the film (mostly distributer logo). After the first part of
the feature, there was a 15 minutes intermission and you could buy some
drinks or, exclusively in the Atrium, a hot red sausage. The second part of
the show started with dimmed light again and the Entr'acte music. After the
end of the film there would be walk out music recorded on blank film, same
as the intermission title cards.
After the first Cinemiracle event was over, the equipment was removed and a
new pair of Philips DP70 70mm
universal projectors along with a standalone Philips FP56 35mm projector was
installed for the first Todd-AO
70mm film "South Pacific". TODD-AO 70 was a development of Michael
Todd and the American Optical Company for widescreen projection coming out
of one hole.
was the first production in 1955 with this new system but shown at the
Atrium only in 35 mm CinemaScope for 2 weeks. The 2nd TODD-AO production
"South Pacific" came out in the USA in 1958. It started in Stuttgart on
January 22, 1960 and ran for 4 weeks only. Until November 25, 1960 there was
one more 70mm event at the Atrium, "The Big Fisherman" filmed in
Super Panavison and starring Howard Keel.
With a prepayment to MGM, Friedl Colm (the wife of Willy who died in 1957),
secured the rights to run "Ben-Hur" in Camera 65 for the first time
in the greater Stuttgart area. "Ben-Hur" was shipped in 16 containers
with a weight of 20 - 23 kg per reel making a total over 330 kg to get it up
in the projection booth. Today your films are delivered on a hard disc
drive, or via satellite dish, or even via the internet and no heavy
transportation anymore. It was in April 1961 when I was visiting Stuttgart
and the Atrium was still running "Ben-Hur" in the 5th month and
almost sold out in the afternoon show. I was extremely impressed by the
picture- and sound quality of the film. It was something I had never
experienced before at my local theatres in Göppingen, running only 35mm and
optical monaural sound. "Ben-Hur" was in the first run for 32 weeks,
later repeating almost every year again and again until July 1982 reaching a
total of 72 weeks. From that point on, I began watching the newspaper ads of
the Atrium, so I was able to see "Exodus" running 9 weeks and
"Spartacus" 12 weeks, all in the year 1961 and in the 70mm format.
11, 1962 was when Cinerama came back to town with "Seven Wonders of the
World" (12 weeks) followed by "South Seas Adventure" (another 4
weeks) and "Windjammer" again for 5 weeks. 1962 also brought "El
Cid" in 70mm for 12 weeks to the Atrium, along with "The Longest Day"
in CinemaScope and 4-track magnetic sound running 10 weeks. The year ended
with a re-run of "Gone with the Wind" for the first time in 35mm
widescreen format running 8 weeks. On April 5, 1963, a 24 weeks engagement
of "How The West Was Won" started in Cinerama with the Philips
Cinemiracle System loaned again from the German Cinerama GmbH. This was the
first 3-strip dramatic feature film telling the story of a family saga
covering several decades of Westward expansion in the nineteenth century -
including the Gold Rush, the Civil War, and the building of the railroads.
From September 20 until November 11, 1963 "55 Days in Peking" a
Samuel Bronston production filmed in Spain in Super Technirama was running
Starting for the Christmas season, Cinerama was installed again on November
27, 1963 for the last 3-strip projection in Stuttgart. "The Wonderful
World Of Brothers Grimm" ran for only 7 weeks.
Right after the end of "The Wonderful World Of Brothers Grimm",
another blockbuster arrived in town from 20th Century Fox starring Elisabeth
Taylor, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison. "Cleopatra" one of the most
expensive productions of the year produced in Todd-AO. Again I would be
travelling to Stuttgart from my hometown to see this colorful production and
walked past a billboard on a construction fence, advertising the show for
"Cleopatra" was running for 16 weeks followed by "The Long Ships",
"Porgy and Bess" and "West Side Story" in 70mm. After that came 6
weeks of different 35mm titles until September 11, 1964 with the opening of
the first single lens Cinerama production of "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad,
World". The filming system was Ultra Panavision, using a 65mm negative
with a anamorphic squeeze lens of x1,25 giving the 70mm projection an aspect
ratio of 1:2,75, using the full screen as Cinerama did before. The system
was not new, it had already been used in "Raintree County", "Ben
Hur" and "Mutiny On The Bounty". "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad,
World" was not a big success, running only 3 weeks before being replaced
by "The Alamo" for only 1 week as a re-run in Stuttgart. One day
before Christmas Eve "My Fair Lady" started for a very, very long run
of 37 weeks. This Super Panavision 70mm title was shown in a German dubbed
version (usually all titles in our country are synchronized), so even the
songs had German lyrics. During the 37 weeks, there were some evening shows
running the original English version in 70mm. The year 1965 brought the
following titles to the Atrium: "The Hallelujah Trail", "Circus
World", "55 Days At Peking", "Cheyenne Autumn", "The
Greatest Story Ever Told" and for another 15 weeks "Those Magnificent
Men In Their Flying Machines". "The Agony And The Ecstasy"
started on April 22, 1966 for 4 weeks, followed by the first blow-up 35mm
Panavision production of "The Great Race" (3 weeks), "Battle Of
The Bulge" (5 weeks), "My Fair Lady" again (4 weeks) and 2 titles
in CinemaScope and 4-track magnetic sound "The Blue Max" (4 weeks)
and "Is Paris Burning" (5 weeks).
December 2, 1966 marked the start of "Doctor Zhivago", filmed in 35mm
Panavision and blown up to 70mm with 6-track stereophonic sound. At a run
length of 77 weeks, this would be the longest running title in the history
of the Atrium. I would have to wait over one year for my next 70mm show to
attend in Stuttgart. "The Bible" started on May 25, 1968 for 5 weeks,
followed by "Grand Prix" (9 weeks), "Doctor Zhivago" again (6
weeks) and till the end of the year "2001: A Space Odyssey" (6 weeks)
and "Mutiny On The Bounty" (1 week). During the '68 season the
Olympic Cinema Chain became the next tenant of the Atrium. Followed by
another re-run of "Ben Hur" (1 week) and for the first time "Gone
With The Wind" in a 70mm blow-up version running 14 weeks. One of
the last Todd-AO features; financed by an American television company was
"Krakatoa - East Of Java", which started on March 28, 1969 for only 3
From May to September of 1969 most of the next titles were shown only for 1
week: Tati's "Play Time", "Custer Of The West" (3 weeks), "El Cid", "The
Great Race", "Spartacus", "Battle Of The Bulge" (only 2 days), "55 Days At
Peking", "Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines", "The Alamo", "The
Fall Of The Roman Empire", "MacKenna's Gold", "Can Can", "Funny Girl"
all in a series called "The Best of 70mm" followed by "The Shoes
Of The Fisherman" (2 weeks) and "Doctor Zhivago" (2 weeks). On
October 11, 1969 I bought my first car and drove to Stuttgart to see "Ice
Station Zebra" another Super Panavision film from MGM, running 4 weeks.
The year ended with "Alfred The Great" and "Where Eagles Dare"
(each 1 week only). On February 13, 1970 "My Fair Lady" was shown
again for 4 weeks and "Paint Your Wagon" (2 weeks), "Patton"
and "Hello Dolly" (2 weeks), "Cleopatra" (1 week), "Doctor
Zhivago" again for 3 weeks, "Waterloo" (2 weeks) and "Kelly's
Heroes" (3 weeks).
Daughter" in 70mm in December 1970.
My career as a part time projectionist had started in 1966 in Göppingen,
running 35mm films on Ernemann X machines. While I was stationed in
Karlsruhe during my army time in 1968, I was running 70 mm at the Capitol
Theatre with Italian Fedi 70 mm projectors for a while. Also 35mm in the
Soldier Casino Cinema in Ebingen., followed by Colm's Colibri Theatre in
Stuttgart with Bauer B11 machines. I always had an eye on the Atrium and
eventually landed a projectionist job there. On December 18, 1970, I was
running the first 70mm print of "Ryan's Daughter" in that theatre.
This David Lean film was the last 65mm Super Panavision production for many
years to come. Most feature titles were blow-ups from anamorphic or
spherical 35mm negatives. The main reason for this was the magnetic sound
reproduction of 70mm offered much better quality compared to the monophonic
optical playback on 35mm prints. "Ryan's Daughter" was running for 11
weeks followed by "Soldier Blue" in 35mm Scope for 7 weeks.
From 1970 I was working at AFN Stuttgart, the Armed Forces Radio Station and
most of the evenings and also weekends at the Atrium. A change in theatre
management also happened at that time. The Atrium was now in hands of the
Olympic Cinema Chain. I noticed the faulty equipment of the Atrium. From six
channels of sound, only three were working. The masking for 70mm was hanging
down 1,5 meters on the right screen corner, because the cables were broken.
There was no surround in the balcony and the magnetic sound heads were
completely worn down.
With the start of "Ryan's Daughter" and about the time when
I started working at the Atrium, there had been no regular full-time
projectionist working for about a year or so. The old time projectionist
before me was not interested in running films. He was eventually thrown out
and one projectionist from Essen came to Stuttgart for about two weeks,
until the staff or freelancer like me took over projection duties. A younger
guy came in and together we fixed all the problems within a short time. I
taught the young theatre manager to run 70mm with changeover reel by reel
and carbon arc light. On weekends we checked the cable of the masking,
curtains and also the surround speakers in the double ceiling. He ordered
new sound heads and much more.
There was no test equipment for the sound, so I brought in a Voltage meter
and made a loop from "2OO1" when HAL killed the deep frozen
astronauts, there was a steady cycle tone on all 6 channels, which I used to
set up the preamps on both machines for the same playback level. Of course
the next 70mm print had completely different levels, but this could be
corrected with the power amps and leaving the pre amps as it was set up
before. At that time there was no pink noise or Dolby 70mm test films on the
market. Since I worked at a Radio station I pulled out the amplifiers one
after the other to repair them at the radio station.
There were many occasions for me to run
films on weekday evenings or on weekends. Still in operation the two DP70
projectors and the Philips FP56 all with carbon arc lamps. Rewinding had to
be done manually, so there was no opportunity to leave the projection room
for a longer time during the performance of the films. A good thing was the
big windows left from the Cinemiracle installation. You could easily see the
film, observing the complete screen while operating the show.
make the story a little shorter for now, the following new 70 mm titles were
shown from April 23, 1971 until July 12, 1974: "Tora! Tora! Tora", "How
The West Was Won" in a blow up from the 35mm CinemaScope negative. (1
week). "Guns For San Sebastian", "Liberation", "Elvis - That's The Way It
Is", "Wild Rovers" and "Tchaikovsky". Also re-re-runs of:
"2001", "My Fair Lady", "Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines",
"55 Days At Peking", "Battle Of The Bulge", "Mutiny On The Bounty",
"Spartacus", "Ben Hur", "Fall Of The Roman Empire", "El Cid", "Solomon And
Sheba", "Doctor Zhivago", "Lawrence Of Arabia" and "Windjammer"
this time in CinemaScope only, but running 15 Sundays in a matinee special.
I still remember the first, almost sold out show of "Windjammer", on
Sunday December 30, 1973 at 11 o'clock. After the opening sequence in 35mm
and 1,37:1 format, there was the change-over to CinemaScope to imitate the
Cinemiracle kind of picture. But this was a very bad reproduction of the
original 3-strip films and had only optical monophonic sound. After 10
minutes the first people came out and wanted their money back. I had seen
"Windjammer" about 6 months earlier [Summer of 1973] at the Cinerama Dome
in Hollywood. The same situation from the 3 picture, only the center was
shown, but the Cinerama Dome advertisement pointed out that the film would
not be shown in the original Cinemiracle system!
From July 12 to September 14 1974 the Atrium was closed for modification.
The balcony was divided from the auditorium in the ground floor. The Colm
theatre group took over their own house so now there would be 350 seats in
the "70mm Great House" and 200 in the balcony, now called Bambi. The two
DP70 projectors equipped with 3500 watt xenon light and 70mm Philips platter
stayed in use in the larger theater. And the Philips FP56 formerly used for
preview program was installed in the new Bambi projection booth. The
original Zeiss-Ikon tube audio system in the 70mm Atrium was replaced by new
Philips magnetic preamps along with Klein & Hummel power amplifiers. The
opening 35mm title was "The Conversation" and the first 70mm
From this date on, I lost interest in running films in the Atrium, but kept
close friendship with the successor operator Detlev Mähl (who died 2017 at
the age of 73). In researching the newspaper ads in the city library, these
70mm titles were shown in the year 74 - 75: "My Fair Lady" (4 weeks),
"Ben Hur" (7 weeks), "2001: A Space Odyssey" (2 weeks) and
"Earthquake" with Sensurround sound for 13 weeks. "Paint Your Wagon"
(2 weeks), "Doctor Zhivago" (5 weeks), "Fall Of The Roman Empire"
(3 weeks), "Tora! Tora! Tora" (1 week), "Gone With The Wind"
(4 weeks) and "The 10 Commandments" (3 weeks) and "Jesus Christ
Superstar" (1 week).
author Hans Haenssler outside the Atrium - two shops at street level and
offices in the upper floors.
"Hair" was the first film with the newly installed Dolby CP50 matrix
decoder in summer of 1979. Many attractive titles like "First Blood"
followed and also 70mm blow ups where shown once in a while. 1980 another
change in the cellar, a small studio cinema with 100 seats was opened and
1985 the upper foyer equipped with a 60 seat small showplace and the
projection through the upper floor and two mirrors along with monophonic
optical sound only.
The "Big House" showed the following 70mm titles:
1981: "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Exodus", "55 Days At Peking", "Mutiny On
Bounty", "Paint Your Wagon"
1983: "Star Wars", "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind", "Return Of The
1984: "The Right Stuff", "2010 - The Year We Make Contact"
1985: "Greystoke, The Legend Of Tarzan"
1988: "Cobra Verde", "Revolution" (in a private screening), "The
1989: "The Last Emperor", "Batman"
1991: "Lawrence Of Arabia" (Original Restored Version)
1992: "Far And Away" the first and only Ron Howard feature filmed in
65mm Super Panavision, Vistavision and Panavision Anamorphic.
1993: "The Abyss", "Baraka", "Howard's End"
In 1995 it was announced that a gigantic multiplex would be built in
Stuttgart by the kino king Heinz Riech. It would have 13 single cinemas in
one structure called UFA Palast and 4235 seats in total. This was the reason
why the Atrium was closed forever on April 9, 1996. The DP70s
(SN 884+885) were sent to Schauburg
Cinerama, Karlsruhe for storage. #885 later sold to The Arcadia cinema
in Milan, 2018. The last 70mm film was "Howard's End". Today the
former Cinerama Atrium houses two shops at street level and offices in the
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Gallery: Atrium Stuttgart Gallery
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