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70mm: "3-D without glasses", or "The Showmanship Format"

The 70mm Newsletter
Edited by: Ramon Lamarca Marques, Brian Guckian and Mike Taylor Date: 04.05.2009
Dear 65/70 workshop,

My slogan for 70mm would be (and this is for 65/70 productions shown in 70mm or SDS-70), "3-D without glasses", or "the showmanship format".

As far as for marketing 70mm as viable format, the proof is not only with "The Dark Knight" run in IMAX theaters, but with movies shown in IMAX period. I think back to the weekends of June 30th, 2006, and March 9th, 2007 when "Superman Returns" & "300" broke house records. On the Saturday we tried to see SM, it was sold out not only for the rest of that day, but it had been sold out since it's opening day. When we got home to try and order tickets for Sunday, it was sold out. So we got 'em for Tuesday afternoon. When "300" came out, we were going to see it that Saturday (when it comes to movies, I'm a Saturday kind of guy), but it was sold out. Thankfully, we were able to get tickets for Sunday. For that 1:10pm showing of 300 on 3/11/07, nearly all 270 seats in the IMAX auditorium were full. And while we were coming out, another crowd of 250+ were trying to pile in.

Now with "The Dark Knight", when word got out that scenes were going to fill the entire image, there was intense frenzy of sold out tickets in advance. It opened 7/18, yet if you hadn't bought your tickets online, you weren't going to get in. I had to see it in 35mm that weekend. But I was able to see it a month later in IMAX, and THAT screening was almost filled to capacity.

So our evidence to producers/directors is this: Moviegoers will go out of their way to see a movie presented in the best way possible. Look at the always packed showings in IMAX, and look at how 3-D screenings outgross their 2-D counterparts in multiplexes. This was especially true for "Monsters vs. Aliens", which opened to 59.3 million, 25 million coming from 3-D, or 42% of it's weekend gross. "The Dark Knight" grossed 533.3 million at the domestic BO. 49.9 million of that was made from IMAX, which is a record for a movie re-mastered for the format.

If there is a production in 70mm, then if it's the right movie, and promoted right, it will make money.

Now, if there is a new production in 70mm, then a program booklet could be included for every paid admission. This booklet would explain to moviegoers what 70mm is, the history, and what they're about to witness. This wouldn't be a large scale release. Only about 12-20 prints in select markets would be needed. This way, moviegoers will drive/commute 30 miles or more to a premier theater in said market. The rest of the movie's release would be in 35mm or digital. But watch the SDS-70 theater outgross the others in terms of per-screen average & online ticketing.

It is my belief that Ron Fricke & Mark Magidson should go about in showing "Samsara" this way. Since it's release will be very limited, only a dozen or so prints would be needed.

Most of it's marketing would be done online at say, myspace or other teen-based sites. You get teens interested, then you'll make money.

Another great thing about SDS-70 is that the exhibitor won't be buying the projector, they would be leasing it for a movie's run. It would be paid for via the admissions. Another thing (sorry for this long e-mail), 4K DLP has a resolution factor of over 4 to 8 million pixels. SDS-70 is 22 million pixels.

I do believe digital projection will be commonplace, and it's not a bad thing. But it won't replicate the experience of seeing a movie on a super large screen with life-like resolution. If digital comes close to this, it will be when I'm a grandfather with white hair. For now, attempts to stretch a hard drive to it's limits could result in damaging the projector.


Tamir Sharif (future exhibitor, fan of the widescreen).
More in 70mm reading:

White paper - Re-introduction of 70mm


Widescreen Weekend

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Updated 07-01-21