1968: A Road Show
- The Original Reserved Seat Engagements Of ‘2001: A
The 70mm Newsletter
and compiled by: Michael Coate
May 29, 2004
Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” had its world premiere on 2
April 1968 at the Uptown Theatre in Washington, D.C. Thus began an
interesting 70mm odyssey. The critically acclaimed film had what is
believed to have been a record number of 70-millimeter wide gauge prints
made for a film during the roadshow era. Included here is a
nostalgic and historical look back at the original engagements.
The original reserved seat release of “2001” played for many,
many weeks in cinemas all around the world, with engagements exceeding one
year being quite common. In some cities, the film’s engagement
even reached two years. In Los Angeles, for instance, the film
played for 103 weeks as an area exclusive. In addition to the successful
roadshow release and subsequent general release, the film has been
re-released numerous times, with the official United States re-releases
occurring in 1974, 1977, 1980, and, are you surprised, 2001.
in 70mm reading:
"2001" release dates
Comments to The Original Reserved Seat
Engagements Of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’
"2001:A Space Odyssey"
Yet another soundtrack
Full credits for
"2001:A Space Odyssey"
"2001" A Concert Article
"2001" newspaper advertisement. Ads of this type appeared in
major city newspapers in advance of release and throughout the engagement.
This one is advertising the Atlanta, Georgia engagement. Note the reserved
seat ticket order form.
the film has, essentially, never been out of release. Between
general release, revival runs, return engagements, retrospectives,
festival screenings, midnight screenings, and even drive-in engagements
(yes, “2001: A Space Odyssey”
has screened in 70mm format at a drive-in), Kubrick’s award-winning
science-fiction epic has been seen on the large cinema screen — where it
no doubt plays best — virtually every year since its original release.
Over the years, “2001” has quite possibly been shown in
the high-quality 70mm format more times than any other film. One of
the most recent 70mm screenings was held in Bradford, England in summer
2003 during the Widescreen Cinema Conference held at the National Museum
of Photography, Film & Television.
"2001" web site (Completely out of date)
"Good day, gentlemen. This is a prerecorded briefing, made
prior to your departure and which, for security reasons of the highest
importance, has been known on board during the mission only by your H-A-L
9000 computer. Now that you are in Jupiter's space, and the entire crew is
revived, it can be told to you. 18 months ago, the first evidence of
intelligent life off the Earth was discovered. It was buried 40 feet below
the lunar surface, near the crater Tycho. Except for a single, very powerful
radio emission aimed at Jupiter, the four million-year old black monolith
has remained completely inert, its origin and purpose still a total
“2001: A Space Odyssey” roadshow program booklet
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer placed a tremendous amount of confidence in Stanley
Kubrick and his vision, and during 1968 in support of the release there
were more than one hundred 70mm reserved seat engagements throughout the
world (the majority of which are accounted for in engagement
seems that practically any city with a Cinerama theatre played the film,
and by the late 1960s, at its peak, there were more than 150 cities with
at least one such venue. (With rare exception, post-1963 Cinerama
was Cinerama in name-only. Post-’63 Cinerama is recognized to be
single-strip 70mm, not the original 35mm/six-perf three-strip format.)
Many other 70mm-equipped, non-Cinerama cinemas played the film in
1968, promoting the film in “regular” 70mm rather than Cinerama.
“2001” was put into 35mm general release beginning in
advert. in70mm.com collection
“2001” is ranked number 22 on the American
Film Institute’s Top 100 movies of all-time. In 2002, Philips
Electronics and Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation selected it as one
of the fifteen “Best Widescreen Films”.
The film’s collective U.S. & Canada box office gross, following a
handful of engagements during the 2001/2002 re-release, is reported to be
$56.9 million, while the film’s U.S. & Canada box office
“rental” (the portion of the gross returned to the distributor based
on the booking terms — typically an average of about 50 to 60 percent )
was $25.5 million through 1996. The film’s worldwide gross exceeds
$100 million. Those figures, of course, represent the film’s
entire theatrical exhibition history — 70mm, 35mm, and 16mm.
On 4 April 1968, a couple of days following the world premiere of “2001,”
civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in
Memphis, Tennessee. Following some civil unrest and thousands of
arrests, several cities were assigned a curfew, resulting in some
theatres, including the District of Columbia’s Uptown Theatre where “2001”
was playing, being dark for a few days.
In spring 1969, “2001” was awarded its only Oscar. (The
film received four nominations in total.) The Oscar, for Visual
Effects, was awarded to producer/director/co-screenwriter Kubrick, who had
also been credited as the film’s Special Photographic Effects Designer
and Director. As a result of having the award given solely to
Kubrick, some have felt that the contributions of the landmark film’s
special photographic effects supervisors — Wally Veevers, Douglas
Trumbull, Con Pederson, Tom Howard — and crew were overlooked by the
30, 2001 re-release advert from London. in70mm.com collection
Over the years, prints of “2001” have been prepared in a
variety of audio formats, including magnetic stereo prints in both 35mm
and 70mm at a time when few movies were mixed and released in a
multichannel format. The film’s original 70mm prints were in the
so-called Todd-AO channel layout (left/left-center/center/right-center/right/surround),
which was standard at the time. Contemporary 70mm prints of “2001”
have utilized Dolby SR noise reduction and have been made available in the
original Todd-AO channel layout, as well as in the modern-day
“5.1”-channel configuration (left/center/right/left-surround/right-surround/LFE).
There have been reports that at least one 70mm print prepared for
the 2001/2002 re-release was in the DTS-70 digital sound format, though
sources at Warner Bros. (the current distributor of the film) have denied
that such prints were available. (Recent 35mm prints have included
Dolby SR/Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS. The DVD versions have Dolby Digital
Perhaps most interesting is that following several film critics bemoaning
the slow pace of the film and excessive running time, Kubrick — perhaps
reluctantly — cut about 20 minutes from the film (and added some
location ID titles). Variety’s film review noted MGM’s initial
print order for “2001” being just over 100, prompting some to
wonder: if all of those (expensive) prints had been struck from a two and
one-half-hour-plus negative prior to the revisions, did the studio order
new replacement prints from the re-cut negative, or was each print that
had already been struck physically re-cut by a projectionist or studio
representative to conform to the new, shorter negative?
Capitol Theatre in New York City. Copyright 2001 Warner Bros.
A contemporary audience may think that making changes to a film is a
recent phenomenon. It was common in previous decades (just not as
widely publicized), and, in the case of roadshows, it was not uncommon for
films to be shortened during their transition from reserved seat run to
general release. Some roadshow releases, however, including the
classics “Lawrence Of Arabia” (1962) and “Doctor Zhivago”
(1965), were shortened during the initial hard ticket, reserved seat
release. What makes the changes interesting in the case of “2001”
is that it appears, at least initially, that the film was not re-printed.
Rather, the changes were made directly on each already-struck print.
One may wonder how many days and in which cities audiences saw the
original cut before being replaced with the shorter version. Given
the production timeline and the distribution sequence, it appears that the
initial three cities in which the film was publicly screened —
Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles — began showing the
original-length version. The book “The Making Of 2001” cites the
shortened cut appearing for the first time on 6 April 1968. Variety,
however, reported in a 17 April article that the original three cities,
plus Boston, started their runs with the long version. If Boston
indeed initiated their engagement with the long version, it is conceivable
that the other few engagements that began on the same day as Boston (10
April; see engagement list) also showed the long cut to a paying
audience before being replaced with the revised edition. (A film
review published in the Harvard Crimson included a reference to the Boston
Cinerama Theatre’s print having been physically altered, referring to it
as a “splice-ridden rough-cut”.)
"2001" 70mm film frame with six-track magnetic soundtrack - projection aspect ratio 2.21:1
Some might ponder how the press would have reacted to the film had they
been shown the tightened, revised edition. During this age of
director’s cuts and deleted scenes — special features popular on the
DVD format — “2001: A Space Odyssey” continues to be seen
today only in its shorter 149-minute edition. (The running time is
139 minutes plus about ten minutes of roadshow components: overture,
intermission, exit music.)
"2001" Original Reserved Seat Engagement List
1969 70mm release advert. in70mm.com collection
research was conducted in the trade publications Boxoffice, The Hollywood
Reporter, and Variety; the magazine Widescreen Review; the Internet
newsgroup rec.arts.movies.tech; the websites www.boxofficemojo.com,
and www.in70mm.com; and the books “Box
Office Hits” (Susan Sackett, Billboard, 1996), “Show Houses: Twin
Cities Style” (Kirk J. Besse, Victoria, 1997), “Motor City Marquees: A
Comprehensive, Illustrated Reference To Motion Picture Theaters In The
Detroit Area, 1906-1992” (Stuart Galbraith IV, McFarland, 1994), and
“The Making Of 2001: A Space Odyssey” (The Modern Library, 2000).
Specific details have been principally referenced from daily newspapers
archived on microfilm, and the following:
- “$2 Mil ‘Odyssey’ B.O. Gross To Date”. Variety, 7 June
- “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Film Review. Variety, 3 April
- “2001: In 35m Version”. Film Review. Variety, 15 Jan
- “2001 Gross Passes $13 Mil”. The Hollywood Reporter, 18
Box Office Mojo
- Kretzel, Bill. “Cinerama And Large-Frame Motion Picture
Exhibition In Canada”.
- “Kubrick Trims ‘2001’ By 19 Mins., Adds Titles To Frame Sequences;
Chi, Houston, Hub Reviews Good”. Variety, 17 April 1968.
- “Making Of 2001: A Space Odyssey, The”. The Modern Library,
- “Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures”. Documentary film.
Warner Home Video DVD 21158, 2001.
2001 re-release artwork. in70mm.com collection
Dr. Sheldon Hall
Richard L. Lenoir
Jose Gonzalez Mancera
Jan E Olsen
Dr. Jochen Rudschies
If you wish to provide feedback or contribute to this list, please contact
Michael Coate or Thomas Hauerslev.
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