“Back to the Future”: The North American 70mm
“He was never in time for his classes… He wasn’t in time for his dinner… Then
one day…he wasn’t in his time at all.”
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following is a reference / historical listing of the 70-millimeter
engagements of “Back to the Future” in North America. These were the cinemas
worth seeking out to experience this film.
“Back to the Future” was among twenty-three confirmed first-run films
released in 1985 with 70mm prints for selected engagements. The Amblin
Entertainment production and Universal release — directed by Robert Zemeckis
(“Who Framed Roger Rabbit”) and starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher
Lloyd — opened July 3rd.
Pre-release screenings included a sneak preview screening June 29th at Avco
Center and an invitational preview July 2nd at the Cinerama Dome.
The 70mm prints of “Back to the Future” featured Six-Track Dolby Stereo (“A”
encoded “baby boom” format) and pillarboxed imagery (approximately 1.85:1)
blown up from spherical 35mm.
For the release of “Back to the Future,” Universal employed the services of
Lucasfilm’s Theatre Alignment Program (TAP) to evaluate and approve the
cinemas selected to book a 70mm print.
Universal circulated 70mm Six-Track Dolby coming-attraction trailers for
“Creator,” “E.T.” (re-release), “Legend,” ”The Money Pit,” “Out of Africa”
and “Weird Science” during the release of “Back to the Future.” Other
studios circulated 70mm trailers during this period, as well. Ultimately,
any 70mm trailers screened during 70mm presentations of “Back to the Future”
varied by venue and screening.
The duration of the engagements (measured in weeks) has been included in
parenthesis following the cinema name.
Los Angeles — GCC’s Avco Center Triplex (25) [THX]
Los Angeles — Pacific’s Cinerama Dome (14)
San Francisco — Blumenfeld’s Regency I (22)
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Washington — Circle’s Avalon Twin (24) [HPS-4000]
New York — Loews’ State Twin (18)
Toronto — Cineplex Odeon’s Hyland Twin (20)
Dallas — GCC’s Northpark West Twin (21) [THX]
Note that some of the presentations included in this listing may have been
presented in 35mm during the latter week(s) of engagement due to contractual
terms or print damage and the distributor’s unwillingness to supply a 70mm
replacement print or because the booking was moved to a non-70mm-equipped
auditorium within a multiplex. As well, the reverse may have been true in
some cases whereas a booking began with a 35mm print because the lab was
unable to complete the 70mm print order in time for an opening-day delivery
or the exhibitor negotiated a mid-run switch to 70mm. In these cases, any
35mm portion of the engagement (or movement out of a branded auditorium) has
been included in the duration figure.
SUBSEQUENT 70MM ENGAGEMENTS & SCREENINGS
1985-10-11 … Los Angeles, CA — Pacific’s Hollywood Pacific Triplex (1)
1985-11-08 … Atlanta, GA — Columbia (6)
1985-12-04 … San Francisco, CA — Blumenfeld’s Regency II (2)
1985-12-20 … Downers Grove, IL — Classic Cinemas’ Tivoli (4)
1985-12-20 … San Francisco, CA — Blumenfeld’s Regency III (4)
1986-01-08 … Toronto, ON — Cinesphere* (12 days)
1986-02-21 … Toronto, ON — Cineplex Odeon’s Canada Square 8 (2) [THX]
1986-03-07 … Los Angeles, CA — Cineplex Odeon’s Century Plaza Twin (2)
1986-03-07 … Tucson, AZ — Cineplex Odeon’s El Dorado Twin (2)
1986-04-18 … San Francisco, CA — Cineplex Odeon’s Northpoint (2)
1986-06-06 … Los Angeles, CA — Pacific’s Hollywood Pacific Triplex (1) [w/ “E.T.”]
1986-06-23 … Atlanta, GA — Fox**
1986-08-29 … San Francisco, CA — Blumenfeld’s Regency I (1) [w/ “Howard the
1987-03-18 … Toronto, ON — Cinesphere* (5 days)
1987-06-30 … Universal City, CA — Cineplex Odeon’s Universal City 18***
1988-03-16 … Toronto, ON — Cinesphere* (5 days)
1988-05-06 … Edmonton, AB — Cineplex Odeon’s Meadowlark (1)
1988-11-05 … Los Angeles, CA — Pacific’s Cinerama Dome****
1990-05-24 … Los Angeles, CA — Pacific’s Cinerama Dome***** (70mm?)
1990-05-24 … San Jose, CA — Syufy’s Century 22 Triplex***** (70mm?)
*Screened during the annual Winter 70mm Film Festival
**Screened during the 9th Annual Fox Summer Film Festival
***Screened during the Magnificent Movie Poll grand-opening event
****Screened during Steven Spielberg Day as a part of the Cinerama Dome’s
25th anniversary film festival, a 17-day, 35-title celebration of popular
movies shown at the famous cinema between 1963 and 1988.
*****Screened during the Back-to-Back-to-Back triple feature event.
The information included in this article was principally referenced from
film industry trade publications, regional newspaper promotion, print
enclosures, TAP records, and Dolby records. Special thanks to John Emery,
Bill Kallay and Bill Kretzel.
International 70mm engagements of this title have not been accounted for in
If you believe this article contains any errors or omissions, please
consider emailing the
author or editor.
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