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Author Topic: 8-Perf 70mm Print Availability
John Pytlak
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 - posted 03-09-2005 01:01 PM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
From the Hartford Courant, March 9, 2005:

http://www.courant.com/features/lifestyle/hce-bigmovies.artmar09,0,6342542.story

quote:
Crown Doesn't Get Big Picture

Dominant IMAX `800-Lb. Gorilla'
March 9, 2005
By LARRY WILLIAMS, Courant Staff Writer The Crown Palace 17's giant-screen Odyssey theater in Hartford hasn't played a large-format movie since "Beauty and the Beast" more than a year ago, and it's anyone's guess when there will be another one.

The problem for Crown Theatres is that it chose a cheaper Gigavision projection system over industry leader IMAX, and few new movies are being issued in the film format used by Gigavision.

In the five years since the Hartford complex opened, the large-format film industry has come to be dominated more than ever by IMAX, which has cut deals with Hollywood studios to make digitally remastered versions of prospective blockbusters for IMAX theaters only.

Thus "Robots," an animated family film that opens Friday in both 35mm and IMAX versions, is only available to Crown in 35mm. The IMAX version will be at Showcase Cinemas Buckland Hills, which equipped one auditorium in November with IMAX's new MPX projection system.

In addition, IMAX 3D has become the industry standard, meaning virtually all large-format films made in 3-D or converted to 3-D are not available to the Odyssey. That's true even when a competing IMAX theater doesn't book a film, as happened with James Cameron's "Aliens of the Deep," which attracted enthusiastic audiences in many locales but bypassed Buckland Hills.

Crown Theatres, which is based in Norwalk, did not respond to repeated requests for interviews over several days.

But Crown's plight was acknowledged and elaborated upon by the man who sold it the Gigavision projectors in Hartford and Jupiter, Fla. - Ernie Tracy, director of large-format and cinema sales and marketing for Kinoton America, the North American distributor for the German projector maker Kinoton GmbH.

"What Crown had originally intended was to be able to show more entertainment-oriented large-format films," Tracy said, as opposed to the more educational films traditionally shown in museums, science centers and zoos.

"But unfortunately, because IMAX is the 800-pound gorilla in the industry, they decided to saturate the market, and they started to focus on commercial cinemas," he said.

In the past year, IMAX has launched an expansion into the world of multiplexes with MPX, a smaller, simpler version of the original IMAX. IMAX also stepped up production of remastered versions of studio films such as "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," "Spider-Man 2," "Robots" and the upcoming "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Batman Begins." The Christmas feature "The Polar Express" not only was blown up to IMAX proportions but converted to 3-D. It was the debut IMAX feature at Buckland Hills Nov. 10.

"A place like Crown doesn't have access to that material because they're not an IMAX," Tracy said.

The compatibility problem is this: Each frame of IMAX film is 70mm by 15 sprocket holes, and runs horizontally through the projector. The film used by Gigavision and other alternatives to IMAX is 70mm by eight sprocket holes and runs vertically. IMAX has its loyalists, but most experts agree the average moviegoer can't tell the difference.

People in the industry refer to the two formats as 15/70 and 8/70.

Perhaps the coup de grace for the Crown was the decision by Walt Disney Pictures to stop converting its animated features to both formats. Disney's decision also robbed Crown of "The Young Black Stallion," a rare live-action drama made with large-format cameras (as opposed to a remastered 35mm film).

The decline in the fortunes of the 8/70 format is evident in Tracy's North American sales the last three years - four Gigavision projectors, period.

It's not that Crown Theatres didn't see this coming. Tracy said the chain had the opportunity to convert the Hartford theater to IMAX about six months ago but didn't do it. It's possible that IMAX's deal with National Amusements, parent company of Showcase Cinemas, foiled Crown's plans. But Tracy said it's evident, too, that Crown has lost some of its enthusiasm for large-format films, which - if they're not studio blockbusters - require expensive promotional efforts with schools and civic groups to be successful.

The Crown Odyssey in Hartford is far from the only giant-screen theater to be playing 35mm movies such as "Constantine" instead of the spectacles for which it was built. A check of multiplex websites across the country didn't turn up any non-IMAX large-format theaters showing large-format films.

Even many IMAX theaters are doing it, including Buckland Hills, which in the last few weeks has shown "Hitch," "Meet the Fockers" and "Boogeyman" on the IMAX screen.

Brian Callaghan, spokesman for National Amusements, said the theater couldn't get "Aliens of the Deep" for Buckland Hills because of a shortage of prints. It did play at the other three IMAX screens in the chain, however.

Contact Larry Williams at lwilliams@courant.com.




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Mark Gulbrandsen
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Actuaually they probably make more $$ showing 35mm on the giant screen so it is of no real consequence, such is the case here in SLC. Had Crown went with Imax they would probably be a broke chain and have to go file chapter what ever by now. The 8/70 thing is dismal and I think I know of more 8/70 machines sitting in basements at the moment than are installed and running.... The only real use for 8/70 that I've seen lately is in dedicated museums where they produce theor own films and in theme parks where they do just the same.

Mark @ CLACO

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Steve Guttag
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Note that the Kinoton machine, the MP75 is a 4/35, 5/70 and 8/70 machine. Thus their equipment is not sitting domant as other systems would...they can use it like any other 35/70 system too until another 8/70 feature is available.

Steve

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Richard Hamilton
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Mark, I agree. I've only installed a couple of 8/70's in multiplexes, and they had a 35 sitting right next to them. As far as I know, they only run 35 right now. For a while, it looked like Disney was pushing the 8/70 format, but I'm not sure what happened with that. In the last couple of years, all of my installs have been planetariums, museums and amusement parks. They run either the basic educational titles or in the amusement parks, they have their own films made. I know of one museum that converts to 35 on the weekends and probably does as much, if not more business on 35.

Rick

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Brian Michael Weidemann
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 - posted 03-09-2005 11:13 PM      Profile for Brian Michael Weidemann   Author's Homepage   Email Brian Michael Weidemann   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
IMAX has its loyalists, but most experts agree the average moviegoer can't tell the difference.
I love the wording of this. What are these experts in? Audience survey and polling, it seems. Nothing to do with the ACTUAL presentation differences. And what, of course, do we know about all "average moviegoers"?

Admittedly, I've never seen an 8/70 presentation, but I can guess that my first impression would be the difference in aspect ratio. 8/70 is slightly wider, although the image is printed on less film area. Oh, but then these DMR transfers are all in their Scope aspect anyway (except for Robots, originally Flat, which fills more of the 15/70 frame than the others) and it throws the distinction out as it is.

This article makes "IMAX" seem like the big, corporate, bully bad guys, intentionally making obsolete a fellow format. Poor Crown Theatres.

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Mark Hajducki
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quote: Steve Guttag
Thus their equipment is not sitting domant as other systems would...they can use it like any other 35/70 system too until another 8/70 feature is available.
Do they have masking that ajusts to the conventional 35mm aspect ratios, if not it there will be a lot of white space surrounding a scope film.

The UGC in Edinburgh used to show 8-70 films in one auditorium, but now only shows 35mm (I have never been to that screen in the complex but since they don't have movable masking in the other screens it is unlikley that they mask this screen). The Iwerks motion simulator in the same complex as the UGC is now closed (along with the nightclub, Mcdonalds, coffee shop).

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Mark Gulbrandsen
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quote: Brian Michael Weidemann
Admittedly, I've never seen an 8/70 presentation
Actually they can look quite good, very sharp, when projected with good optics. The quality of todays negative stock is why there have been alot of 15/70 productions shot in 8/70 these days. The cameras are also lighter and the film stock savings is about 40%. The main problem with 8/70 is achieving the high light levels that one gets with 15/70(Imax SR systems excepted!)projectors. I've seem Imax SR systems that are only a tad better in light level than the better 8/70 systems can do. The Iwerks Linear Loop for instance has the equivelent of a high speed pull down and is extremely light efficient.... thanks to Phil..... [thumbsup]

Mark

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Brian Michael Weidemann
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That's pretty neat. And, yes, a great many things in life are directly attributed to Phil. [Big Grin]

I'm sure 8/70 is a fabulous format, and I can see it making more practical "large format" sense in many ways, for just those reasons. Still, there's something just really darned cool about a horizontal motion-picture format that gets me all excited. And who can deny the 1:1.33 aspect as the single most aesthetically pleasing shape ever to be known in the history of existence? I mean, really. [Cool]

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Mark Gulbrandsen
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quote: Brian Michael Weidemann
Still, there's something just really darned cool about a horizontal motion-picture format that gets me all excited.
Thats exactly why I like the VistaVision format!! I still own both a camera and projector and have threatened to make boring VistaVision films about the Western States. Where I disagree with you and I think you're dead wrong is about the 1.33 ratio...... pleasing it is not....... difficult it is to compose for and fill properly.... in Imax much of it is wasted because of the special requirements for composition that Imax reccomends. I think if you did a poll you'd find that Wide Screen 1.85 or wider ratios would win hands down. In recent years a poll dictated the new 16X9 wide screen aspect ratio for HDTV!! 1:33 to 1 [thumbsdown] , 1.85 or wider.... [thumbsup] .

Mark

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Dick Vaughan
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quote: Mark Gulbrandsen
I've seem Imax SR systems that are only a tad better in light level than the better 8/70 systems can do
Don't generalise Mark. properly lined up SR's can give very good results

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Darren Briggs
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UGC edinburgh do have masking on ther 8/70 screen, 35mm looks very grainy. The 8/70 system they have is on poor condition, the sound system is down, and the projectors air jet system is also caput.

Not the ideal location for a large format theatre, its a bit out of the way from the center.
They do have a couple of prints sat there that i saw when i was last up there in Aug. Lion King and if i recall Everest.

IMAX is alot clearer than 8/70 presentations, you can even tell when they blow up 8/70 to 15/70, it is alot more grainy.

The IMAX projection system is the Rolls Royce of film transport, I look forward to seeing an MPX system in operation in the future.

Must say that Dick's Bradford IMAX is the best one ive seen, not keen on the other UK theatre, think it is due to Bradford being alot steeper and you are closer to the screen, even thought the screen is smaller, also i believe that 100% of the IMAX frame is seen on the screen, other theatres have slight cropping, did you tell me this Dick!?

Darren

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Mark Gulbrandsen
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quote: Dick Vaughan
Don't generalise Mark. properly lined up SR's can give very good results


Dick,
I was not generalizing. I have yet to see an SR system(I've seen at least six different locations) that gives half the image quality(mainly due to lower light levels) that the full size systems can give. The difference is really quite a bit in some cases. The Boise Imax is not passable to me when it runs 3D, not enough light level. Its ok in 2D but not like the real thing. The SLC SR system is a far cry in screen brightness from the CDC system down in Utah County or the CDC at Zion Canyon(which also runs just 7kw). I am not barking up a tree for CDC at all here nor about the image steadiness on the SR which is adaquate. Although reports I get from other Imax projectionists that you know, at least one on this forum, suggests the SR is harder on film, especially new film. I also think the lenses on the SR's could be done a bit better. For what ever reason they chose to leave the black masking(coating) off the O.D. of the lens elements.... this does not help contrast at all. Under extreme conditions this can and will reduce contrast ratio through the lens. Oddly, I've never seen this on any other Imax(Leitz)lenses before till I saw my first SR system. Can send you a photo of the lens if you request it but I won't post it here. All in all to me the SR is just an Imax excuse that doesn't come close to the full size Imax machine. And yes, the full size systems are indeed the Rolls Royce of 15/70. Its sad that Imax has let its quality slip with the SR.

Mark

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Adam Martin
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quote: Mark Gulbrandsen
they chose to leave the black masking(coating) off the O.D. of the lens elements
What do you mean? The SR has the same masking plate setup on the spherical lens assembly as the GT and practically the same lenses.

Seriously, I don't know what you mean by a "masking/coating" on the "O.D." What is this O.D.?

Feel free to email me the photo. [Smile]

Cheap companies didn't want to pay full price for a real Imax system, so Imax came up with the SR for those who wanted to drive a BMW and the MPX for those who would be satisfied with a VW Jetta. I'd say, overall, that Imax did a pretty good job within the constraints. (Evil as they may be [Wink] )

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Darryl Spicer
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quote: Adam Martin
What is this O.D
I am going to take a wild guess on this and say that the O.D. is the Outer Diameter or Optical Diffuser

Like I said that is a wild guess and if I am wrong you can deduct $2,000 off of my score [Smile]

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Brian Michael Weidemann
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quote: Mark Gulbrandsen
Where I disagree with you and I think you're dead wrong is about the 1.33 ratio...... pleasing it is not.......
I had hoped that the [Cool] would have expressed the sarcasm behind my comment, just in case the hyperbole and "I mean, really" didn't. I honestly have no convictions toward the 1:1.33 aspect. I think 1:2.35 is a much more dramatic window into a cinematographer's soul. I do not disagree with your comments. [beer] [Razz]

quote: Adam Martin
Cheap companies didn't want to pay full price for a real Imax system, so Imax came up with the SR for those who wanted to drive a BMW and the MPX for those who would be satisfied with a VW Jetta.
I think this is an accurate analogy. And yes, it is a little sneaky and evil. Oh well, that's business, apparently!

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