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Visit biografmuseet.dk about Danish cinemas


....one performance, one review (your results may vary)
“Interstellar” in 70mm at the Ziegfeld

The 70mm Newsletter
Written and photographed by: Vince E. Young, November 14, 2014 Date: 20.11.2014
A view of the screen.

It had been years since I had set foot in the Ziegfeld, now about to enter its 45th year of existence, since it had gone through two changes in ownership after the original Walter Reade Organization. I wanted to see if a 70mm presentation nowadays could hold a candle to similar wide-gauge engagements in the past.

As I entered the spacious, albeit empty, auditorium, the pre-show had already begun: the main and screen curtains were open, and the masking was pulled back. In the first photograph, you can see that the pre-show (projected digitally) image is also not the full height of the screen opening. Over the years, I've seen bottom masking appear and disappear, and am not sure if it's put in place by hand or electrically operated. At any rate, this first series of advertisements ran within the boundaries of the 1.85:1 image in a variety of shapes and sizes.
More in 70mm reading:

"Interstellar" Goes IMAX 70MM and 5/70 MM

"Interstellar" in 70MM at the Ziegfeld in New York

Internet link:

A view of the full 70mm screen.

Taken during a slight pause between individual ads, shows the extent of the screen in use. It certainly appears to be of an aspect ratio closer to two-to-one than 2.2:1 which has always been the case here with full-frame 5-perf 70mm films. I'm used to, but not fond of, commercial advertisements in theatres, especially when they're the very same commercials I see every day at home.
Here's an ad for the Syfy television channel, and the next one is from the ubiquitous Geico. A few more minutes into the pre-show, two employees walk behind the right curtain.(I've highlighted one of them in the lower right corner of the screen) and they spent about two minutes attempting to do something with the right masking panel, resulting in the top right edge of the masking remained askew until the gentlemen gave up their attempts and disappeared back into the auditorium.
Two curtains. The outer curtain the inner curtain.


The Bow-Tie Cinemas “flash” screen.

17 minutes and an exhausting number of trailers later (we're still digital at this point), the curtains begin to close, and I stop staring at my watch.

The image disappears...the curtains have not completely closed, but they've started....inner curtain first...

...followed by the house curtain...

...finally closed.

A pause for a few seconds. No image. No sound. A nice touch. It's beginning to smack of real old-school showmanship though the timing is a little awkward. Then the outer curtain opens, followed by the inner.
Oops, a tail-out. Nobody in the booth to close the dowser, so we experience 10 seconds of blinding white light

Hooray! An image flashes....but, drat!, it's an MPAA green band signalling yet another trailer. But at least we've finally switched to 70mm film projection.

The trailer image is 1.85:1, and, yes, the masking still hasn't closed. And you can see that the 70mm image now fills the entire height of the screen. The trailer is for Paul Thomas Anderson's “Inherent Vice” which is an 1.85:1 production. If that full visible screen masked is actually 2.2 times wider than high, then I'm running off for an eye exam.

And finally, at 11:20 am, the Paramount logo.
A view of the booth. Behind the left porthole is the film platter, the Century 35/70 projector sits in the middle, and the digital projector is located at the right.

Eventually 2 hours and 49 exciting minutes later, the last frame slides through the projector head, and the the print's tail, too....but, oops!, nobody in the booth to close the dowser, so we experience 10 seconds of blinding white light, until someone notices, extinguishes the light, turns the house lights back up, and closes the curtains. Well, nobody's perfect. At least it was 70mm and in its second week of projection via a platter, the print still looked gorgeous! Congratulations, booth personnel!
A view of the marquee as seen from the East. See any mention of 70mm?

On the way out...and sorry about the shakiness...can't really bring a heavy-duty tripod into the theatre...here's a view of the booth. Behind the left porthole is the film platter, the Century 35/70 projector sits in the middle, and the digital projector is located at the right. I believe I counted eight loudspeakers on each side wall and two on the rear.

Mr. Reade would spin in his grave if he knew that the theatre features no mention in any of its signage outside the building that this is not only a 70mm presentation, but the last one in a long while, and not IMAX. Not a single word.
The man who sponsored Aromarama, Wonderama, and himself was on the Board of Directors of Cinerama Inc would probably not be pleased.

However, my purchased ticket plainly states “70mm”. Message to BowTie: I have already paid for a ticket; I no longer need to be titillated by the statement “70mm” or “giant screen”. You already have my money.

I didn't mention the audio at this showing. As hoped for and expected, the audio was at the Ziegfeld's denture-loosening best, the punch-in-the-gut bass moments as vibrant as in
"Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" or "Apocalypse Now" here.

Not sure if BowTie plans to install Dolby Atmos. A grid of overhead loudspeakers might not mesh with the auditorium's décor, but would truly be effective.
A view of the marquee as seen from the West. See any mention of 70mm?

Years ago, the Ziegfeld normally ran non-sync music through ceiling speakers in stereo without utilizing the wall units. But I want to take the opportunity to thank not only those responsible for the practically unflawed presentation, but also those involved in the production and distribution of this feature film with the intent of wide-gauge projection in 70mm. It wasn't perfect, but it was a megastep in the right direction, and perhaps if distribution hadn't contracted so many simultaneous competing venues along with the Ziegfeld, the theatre might have attracted more than the six people who showed up yesterday morning. Very special kudos to Bow-Tie for retaining its film capabilities. [I just read in in70mm.com that “Inherent Vices” will [is rumored to] be a 5/70 release.]

And a special shout out to the kind lady at the boxoffice who, looking at my driver's license photo, refused to believe I am a senior. You made my day, ma'am.
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Updated 04-05-22