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Apocalypse Now: The Original 70mm Engagements

The 70mm Newsletter
Compiled by: Michael Coate, Hollywood, USA Date: 19.07.2010
“Apocalypse Now” in Los Angeles, USA. Click image to see enlargement. Thomas Hauerslev collection

“Apocalypse Now” for many is remembered as a seminal moviegoing experience. Believing they had a special film, Omni Zoetrope and United Artists released Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War epic slowly. Rather than saturating the market with hundreds or even thousands of bookings, as would be the case if released today, top-flight cinemas in three large and important markets were selected to open the film in mid-August of 1979. The film was shown on a reserved-performance, guaranteed-seat basis and presented in 70-millimeter and Six-Track Dolby Stereo, which showcased a then-new quintaphonic split-surround audio mix. The film was shown without opening or closing credits or any studio logos; instead, a program was handed out to moviegoers. In September and early October, additional 70mm bookings were added for a North American total of seventeen. These initial 70mm bookings were:
More in 70mm reading:

Blade Runner: The Original 70mm Engagements
Remembering “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade”
Remembering “Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom”
Remembering “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

Films shown in 70mm in Los Angeles, CA, USA

70mm in London 1958-2001 by John Sharp

Internet link:

15.08.1979 … Los Angeles, CA — Cinerama Dome (13 weeks)
15.08.1979 … New York, NY — Ziegfeld (12 weeks)
15.08.1979 … Toronto, ON — University (18 weeks)

21.09.1979 … Newport Beach, CA — Newport
21.09.1979 … Orange, CA — Cinedome 6
21.09.1979 … San Francisco, CA — Northpoint (12 weeks)
21.09.1979 … San Jose, CA — Century 21

03.10.1979 … Washington, DC — Uptown
05.10.1979 … Calumet City, IL — River Oaks
05.10.1979 … Chicago, IL — State-Lake
05.10.1979 … Evergreen Park, IL — Evergreen
05.10.1979 … Montreal, QC — York (25 weeks)
05.10.1979 … Niles, IL — Golf Mill
05.10.1979 … Oakbrook, IL — United Artists
05.10.1979 … Vancouver, BC — Stanley (25 weeks)
10.10.1979 … Boston, MA — Cinema 57
12.10.1979 … Seattle, WA — Town
In mid-October, 1979, the film was put into a nationwide, 35mm general release where it played in hundreds of cinemas across the United States and Canada and, eventually, the rest of the world. The 35mm version of the film was different from the 70mm version in a number of respects. Aside from obvious visual and sonic differences, the 35mm version, whether Dolby Stereo or mono, featured a completely different audio mix, providing a less dynamic, less immersive experience than was provided by the 70mm version and, most notably, featured an end-credit sequence which included footage of the Kurtz compound and its destruction not seen in the original 70mm presentations.

Some key international premieres

“Apocalypse Now” in London, England. Click image to see enlargement. Thomas Hauerslev collection

Paris (26.09.1979)
Sydney (15.11.1979; Hoyts)
London (01.12.1979; ABC Shaftesbury Avenue)
Tokyo (15.03.1980)

Notably, “Apocalypse Now” was screened by special arrangement at the Moscow Film Festival in August 1979.

During the latter half of the film’s original release, as well as in the years since, “Apocalypse Now” in 70mm has been a re-issue and revival booking staple.

70mm in London 1958-2000 by John Sharp

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Updated 31-12-15