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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Large Format Forum   » Polar Express largest 70mm print order in cinema history (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Polar Express largest 70mm print order in cinema history
Jeffry L. Johnson
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 - posted 01-12-2005 02:49 PM      Profile for Jeffry L. Johnson   Author's Homepage   Email Jeffry L. Johnson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Original Cinema : the newsletter of the Large Format Cinema Association. Volume X, Number 3 (2005 January).
quote:
An Historic Print Order

In completing Polar Express for IMAX 3-D and shipping it to nearly 70 Large Format theaters in North America, David Keighley and the team at DKP/70mm Inc. were dealing with some big numbers. "It's the biggest 70mm print order in cinema history," says Keighley. "Star Wars used 250 70mm prints in the 1970s. That would be 3.2 million feet. This release is 5.5 million feet. It's also got other parameters. All those prints put end-to-end, the left and right eye, are almost 1000 miles long. Each print is about 14 miles long. Each print goes into ten boxes which hold the 30 reels left eye and 30 reels right eye. That weighs 661 pounds. There are almost 290,000 frames in the film. At 4k that's 7.3 terabytes. So that's 7 trillion pieces of data.

To project Polar Express 3-D as a feature film, new 150-minute platters had to be built for the theaters. Separate platters hold the left eye and right eye prints which run in tandem through the projector.

The IMAX effort to produce a LF 3-D version of The Polar Express seems to have paid off. After only eleven days in release in North America, it had grossed a total of almost $6 million.


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Michael Coate
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quote:
Star Wars used 250 70mm prints in the 1970s.
Bullshit.

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Jeffry L. Johnson
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 - posted 01-12-2005 09:02 PM      Profile for Jeffry L. Johnson   Author's Homepage   Email Jeffry L. Johnson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I knew you would pounce on that one.

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Brad Miller
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 - posted 01-12-2005 11:23 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
The IMAX effort to produce a LF 3-D version of The Polar Express seems to have paid off. After only eleven days in release in North America, it had grossed a total of almost $6 million.
And how many millions did the 35mm prints make in the first eleven days in release? Of the $6 million from IMAX tickets, how many of those customers would've seen it in 35mm if the IMAX version had not existed?

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Lyle Romer
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Brad,

I know of a bunch of people in my neighborhood that saw it in 35mm first and then decided that it would be cool to see it in IMAX 3D. Once they all buy the DVD in a few months, they'll complete the distribution trifecta.

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Dick Vaughan
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 - posted 01-13-2005 03:16 AM      Profile for Dick Vaughan   Author's Homepage   Email Dick Vaughan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
To project Polar Express 3-D as a feature film, new 150-minute platters had to be built for the theaters. Separate platters hold the left eye and right eye prints which run in tandem through the projector.


150 minute platters have been around for at least 3 years and anyway PE is only 101 minutes so will fit on any platter larger than ,and including, the 60" "90 minute" platter.

Also ,switches to pedantic mode, the word tandem is defined as

A two-wheeled carriage drawn by horses harnessed one before the other.
A team of carriage horses harnessed in single file.
A tandem bicycle.
An arrangement of two or more persons or objects placed one behind the other: driving horses in tandem.

adj.
Having two identical components arranged one behind the other: a tandem axle.

As the the two eyes of a 3D film are not identical neither do the two films follow on behind each other this is not an appropriate or accurate description of the 3D projection process

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Kyle McEachern
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quote: Brad Miller
And how many millions did the 35mm prints make in the first eleven days in release? Of the $6 million from IMAX tickets, how many of those customers would've seen it in 35mm if the IMAX version had not existed?
A better question would be "what was the average dollar amount PER SCREEN that the movie brought in in 35mm in the first eleven days, vs. IMAX?" -- there was an initial order of 65 prints (According to DKP) for Polar Express, and assuming no extras were added in the first 11 days, that would be just over $92,000 per screen in 11 days...pretty impressive for LF theatres, competing with the thousands of 35mm ones that had the film. And as to the second half of the question, most of the customers who saw it at my theatre seemed to have already seen it in 35mm (granted, we got the movie about two weeks after its inital release), and we still sell out weekend shows and sold out almost every show for the first two weeks.

As to the facts of the original quote, they're slightly different than the ones given by David Keighley Productions initially. This is from a sheet sent out by DKP along with the Polar Express print to IMAX Projectionists:

quote:
Here are some answers to FAQs:
  • 289,574 frames were digitally recorded. We belive this is the longest digital intermediate (DI) negative recorded to date anywhere and that these 4K frames equal 7.3 terabytes of data. That's 7.3 trillion bytes of data, in case you're counting
  • Each print weighs 661.5 lbs in boxes
  • Each print of 30 left eye and 30 right eye reels is 73,845 feet or 13.98 miles long
  • The initial order of 65 3D prints is the largest 70mm print footage order in cinema history at 4.94 million feet
  • Sixty-Five prints of The Polar Express: An IMAX Experience is 908.7 miles of 70mm film
  • 3,900 reels of film were processed
  • 4,550 boxes were assembled for shipping
  • 11,700 labels identify each individual reel
  • 42,997.5 lbs, or 21.49 tons of film has been shipped for the inital 65 print order

That's all well and good...but my question is on:
11,700 labels identify each individual reel
I think they could have worded it better...either that or they used 45,630,000 labels (11700 * 3900 reels). That's a lot of labels, hope it doesn't leave residue.

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Dan Suomi
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 - posted 01-13-2005 09:26 AM      Profile for Dan Suomi   Author's Homepage   Email Dan Suomi   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Polar Express in 3D has raked in $30,243,050 with a $487,791 per screen average in just 8 weeks. I'd say it's a success.

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Steve Kraus
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Perhaps the Star Wars reference refers to the 3 films combined.

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Brian Michael Weidemann
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quote: Dick Vaughan
150 minute platters have been around for at least 3 years and anyway PE is only 101 minutes so will fit on any platter larger than ,and including, the 60" "90 minute" platter.
This original point was probably trying to allude to the fact that, while the 150 has existed, many QTRU's needed to be upgraded, on account of this movie, so that FOUR decks could run 150's. As is the case with us. Our decks 4 and 5 could run 150, but 1, 2, and 3 could only do 60's.

Poor wording causes so much confusion. There was a newspaper article a month ago about this and it led the reader to believe that IMAX projectors have been running 35mm prints forever, but this "DMR" thing just makes them look better. I also saw a "clarification" that 15/70 means "15mm by 70mm". Hmmm ... that's skinnier than a 35mm frame!

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Michael Coate
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quote: Steve Kraus
Perhaps the Star Wars reference refers to the 3 films combined.
No, for two reasons. (1) David Keighley's quote mentions "in the 1970s," implying just the first movie since the two original trilogy sequels were released during the '80s. (2) The combined 70mm print total for the three exceeded 250.

Star Wars: 25-30
Empire: 135
Jedi: 160

Numbers are for US & Canada, are approximate and are based on researching published articles in Variety and the original newspaper ads, and communication with Lucasfilm.

[But then... maybe my research is just plain poor and the 250 figure is correct. That would explain how there were enough prints to get to places like Tucson. [Smile] ]

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Mark Gulbrandsen
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quote:
In completing Polar Express for IMAX 3-D and shipping it to nearly 70 Large Format theaters in North America
Seems to me that one of the Star Trek films had a 200 plus 70mm release print count but I don't remember which one it was.

I don't think the number of feet of 70mm printed counts as a record..... ecept for the number of feet printed.

To me it would be the number of screens that it plays on simultaniously that makes any 70mm "quantity printed" film the winner..... So star Trek wins hands down.

This undoubtdly qualifies as the largest amount of 70mm film printed for a release but only because of its format. 70 screens is nothing in the exhibition buisness.

Mark

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Brian Michael Weidemann
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quote: Brad Miller
Of the $6 million from IMAX tickets, how many of those customers would've seen it in 35mm if the IMAX version had not existed?
Regarding the first few weeks of the film's release, I'm sure the answer is a significant amount. Now, however, over two months after the fact, our IMAX version is still pulling in a lot of people. Our 35mm print is ... oh, wait, we lost that a month ago! If we had a 35mm print of Polar Express now, and NOT an IMAX, it wouldn't do any business at all. (Well, does anyone still have it in 35mm and can confirm or deny?)

In fact, the business it's doing now--for ANY movie two months after its release--is actually impressive. Amazingly. Neither of the Matrix sequels were still attracting patrons after this long.

quote: Mark Gulbrandsen
but only because of its format.
Well, there you go! If it's true in ANY capacity, then it's fair game to be used to promote the film. Every marketing department EVERYWHERE is guilty of this, I'm sure. Oh, this is the the first time that over 1000 computers were networked to render the darned thing ... oh, this is the first time every print was personally viewed by the director for quality assurance ... oh, this is the longest film ever that was produced in the time it took ...

Whatever the gimmick is, someone'll point it out. And really, what does it all mean when it comes down to it? A whole heck of not a lot. [Razz]

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Michael Coate
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quote: Mark Gulbrandsen
Seems to me that one of the Star Trek films had a 200 plus 70mm release print count but I don't remember which one it was.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

BTW, the 70mm print record for a single U.S./Canada saturation release print run (according to figures supplied by TAP) is "Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom" (1984).

quote: Mark Gulbrandsen
I don't think the number of feet of 70mm printed counts as a record..... ecept for the number of feet printed.

To me it would be the number of screens that it plays on simultaniously that makes any 70mm "quantity printed" film the winner..... So star Trek wins hands down.

This undoubtdly qualifies as the largest amount of 70mm film printed for a release but only because of its format. 70 screens is nothing in the exhibition buisness.

The work done on "Polar Express" IS noteworthy...but only within the realm of the current Large-Format industry. The fact that the details needed to be qualified by pointing out the dual prints and total footage measured in feet does little but remind me of all of the silly box office "records" created every time a new movie does well. "The largest Wednesday, non-holiday, non-summer opening of a non-sequel film ever."

And the sports world is just as bad (and I'm a sports fan!) with the endless stats: "Randy Johnson has a 1.15 ERA when pitching on Wednesday night games on astroturf."

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Brian Michael Weidemann
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Just got an e-mail today about the official Robots IMAX press release. The plot summary includes such phrases as ...

"this is the first time ever that an animated feature presents a unique, completely imagined world"

and

"never has such a cast been assembled for a single feature, including no less than five Academy Award winners"

Whatever! [Roll Eyes]

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