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The Successful Norelco Universal 70/35mm (Philips DP70/35) Film Projector
... as it had been, for example, demonstrated with the long-term runs of the films A) "South Pacific" and B) "Spartacus".

The 70mm Newsletter
Written, compiled and partly translated by: Gerhard Witte (Berlin, Germany) in winter 2020/21 – also with the help of the impressive non-profit library "Internet Archive" (especially from the collections of the "Library of Congress" in Washington, D.C.) Date: 20.02.2021

"South Pacific" (USA, 1958)

Magna Theatres' $6,500,000 film production had its World Premiere at New York's "Criterion Theatre" on 19.03.1958, where it ran until 06.10.1958 (29 weeks). Then it moved over to New York's "Rivoli Theatre", where it ran until 31.03.1959 (another 25 weeks).

An article from the trade magazine "Motion Picture Daily" dated 18.03.1958:

Criterion Changes for "South Pacific" Run

For the New York presentation of "South Pacific", the "Criterion Theatre" has required little change beyond installations for the Todd-AO 70mm projection and six-track sound. Two Todd-AO-Philips projectors, complete with pedestals, optical and magnetic soundheads, etc., replace the standard equipment. Existing lamps, Peerless Hy-Candescents, are being continued in service, however, with modification for wider aperture. A Raytone moderate-gain screen has been installed within the arch for a picture 46 feet wide, in a ratio of about 2-to-1. With a throw of 113 feet, it has a curvature of 6 feet from the chord at the center. Increase of picture size has resulted in removal of the first two rows of seating. For sound, five screen channels and one for 12 speakers around the auditorium have been installed by Altec Service, with Fred J. Pfeiff representing Todd-AO. Projection installations were under the supervision of T.P. Prendergast of Todd-AO.

An article from "Motion Picture Daily" dated 19.03.1958:

"Pacific" Premiere for PAL Benefit Tonight

Rogers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific" in Todd-AO will open at the "Criterion Theatre" here tonight in a benefit premiere for the Police Athletic League. Some 1500 civic, state, and prominent entertainment personages will attend. The guests will be showered with more than 1,000 orchids, flown here direct from the Pacific island of Kauai, where most of the film was made. In addition, PAL's 30-member chorus and drum and bugle corps will be stationed in front of the theatre to play a medley of popular songs from the picture. Heading the celebrities will be Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, along with producer Buddy Adler, who supervised the entire production, and Joshua Logan, who directed the picture.

An article from "Motion Picture Daily" dated 20.03.1958:

Second Charity Showing Of "Pacific" Tonight

A 60-foot replica of a United States aircraft carrier will be anchored in front of the "Criterion Theatre" here tonight for the festivities attending the second charity premiere of Rogers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific". Proceeds from the benefit debut will go towards the construction of the new Navy-Marine Corps stadium to be built at Annapolis.

The 25-man Third Naval District band and color guard will parade down Broadway stopping in front of the "Criterion" to play a medley of songs from the Todd-AO musical. Heading the list of guests will be Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rogers, Buddy Adler, Joshua Logan, Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor and John Kerr.
More in 70mm reading:

PDF: The Successful Norelco Universal 70-35mm (Philips DP70) Film Projector

Gerhard Witte's Library

55th Anniversary of the DP70 Academy Award

DP70 / Universal 70-35 / Norelco AAII - The Todd-AO Projector

in70mm.com's Todd-AO Page

Restoration of "Spartacus"

A Brief History of Philips Cinema

"South Pacific" 70mm Seasons

Internet link:

The Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road, London

Los Angeles Theatres: Pantages Theatre: an overview

The two adverts about the Todd-AO movie "South Pacific" are from the American trade magazines "Film Bulletin" dated 17.03.1958 (left), and right from "Film Bulletin (Summer Product Prospectus) 1958" … "South Pacific" No. 1 Boxoffice Champion! In only 23 engagements, playing only 10 shows per week, it has grossed to date $2,571,835.25. In London & Manchester SOLD OUT SINCE OPENING! … Note – "South Pacific" will be shown only in TODD-AO indefinitely!

See advert on the left: First US Premiere Engagements of "South Pacific" in 1958:

World Premiere at the:
New York "Criterion Theatre" on 19th March
Miami Beach at "Sheridan Theatre" on 24th March
Philadelphia at "Midtown Theatre" on 26th March
Chicago at "McVickers Theatre" on 26th March
Washington at "Uptown Theatre" on 1st April
Baltimore at "New Theatre" on 1st April
Cleveland at "Loew's Ohio Theatre" on 2nd April
Pittsburg at "Nixon Theatre" on 7th April
Boston at "Saxon Theatre" on 8th April
Detroit at "United Artists Theatre" on 9th April
Dallas at "Winwood Theatre" on 15th April
St. Louis at "Pageant Theatre" on 16th April.

"South Pacific" had its European Premiere at London's "Dominion Theatre" (located in London's West End at 268-269 Tottenham Court Road) on 21st April 1958 – this had been the very first TODD-AO presentation in the U.K.

For this event, the theatre's former 677-seat balcony (the upper circle) had been closed off and was converted into offices. Two Philips DP70 projectors were installed into a newly built projection booth at the back of the orchestra stalls that now provided a 78ft level throw to the screen. A large 46ft wide screen (with a 5ft deep curvature – measured from the chord at the center) was erected in the theatre's 54ft wide proscenium opening. Other side seats with a bad view were also taken out. Thus, the seating capacity of the theatre was ultimately reduced to 1,654. [Source: the book "London's West End Cinemas" (1991) by Allen Eyles & Keith Skone, and the website "cinematreasures.org"].

"South Pacific" ran at London's "Dominion Theatre" until 30th September 1962 in 2,551 performances. This had been an exceptional (unique) long season of 4 years, 5 months, 1 week and 2 days (or 232 weeks). At the time, they had used two "South Pacific" 70mm prints with one print shown more than 1,382 times. This was followed by Otto Preminger's “Porgy and Bess” presented in 70mm Todd-AO too.

Joshua Logan, the movie's director, writes in his book "Movie Stars, Real People, and Me" (1978) about London's "Dominion Theatre":

"In that theatre alone the picture had taken in enough pounds, shillings, and pence to pay off the entire production cost. The English loved it, and it was. The English have such dreary weather that the color seemed to give them a lift. South Pacific turned out to be the most financially successful thing I ever did in my life."

"South Pacific" premiered at Manchester's "Gaumont Theatre" on 29th April 1958, where it successfully ran for more than 2 years.

Go to: Gaumont, Manchester, England (2009)

PROGRESS WITH TODD-AO – advertising from the trade magazine "Motion Picture Daily" dated 18.03.1958.

A short article from the trade magazine "International Projectionist" dated February 1960:


Twin records for the number of runs made with a single 70mm print were recently set by two theatres in the United Kingdom. Both, the "Dominion Theatre" in London and the "Gaumont" in Manchester have topped the 1,000-run mark with their very first print of "South Pacific".

The original prints are still in excellent condition and regular performances continue with them, using Norelco (Philips/Todd-AO) 70/35mm equipment – according to Niels Tuxen, manager of its motion picture equipment division and Martin Sweeny. North American Philips Co., Inc., is manufacturer and supplier of the Norelco Universal projector for the US. Mr. Sweeny is with Todd-AO Corp., which distributes the equipment.

Go to PDF: The Successful Norelco Universal 70-35mm (Philips DP70) Film Projector
Go to: DP70 / Universal 70-35 / Norelco AAII - The Todd-AO Projector

Back to the United States of America – here an article taken from the American trade magazine "International Projectionist" dated July 1960:

Norelco 70/35 Now On the Market

Niels Tuxen of North American Philips Co. and George P. Skouras have announced that Norelco Universal 70/35 equipment, previously handled exclusively by the Todd-AO Corp. George P. Skouras interests, has now been placed on the open market, to be made available to exhibitors by theatre supply dealers throughout the States, including National Theatre Supply.

In addition to the Norelco 70/35mm projectors, the complete line of Philips projection equipment will also be made available. This line includes the FP 7-35mm projector and the new FP 20-S "shutterless" 35mm projector with pulsed gas discharge light source, as well as portable 35mm and 16mm professional projectors.


"Spartacus" (USA, 1960)

Announcement advert left from "Motion Picture Exhibitor" dated 05.10.1960, and on the right a picture that shows the façade of the film's World Premiere venue – New York's "DeMille Theatre", located at the corner of Broadway and 47th Street (image from "Motion Picture Daily" dated 07.10.1960). At the time, one of the largest advertisings in New York's city in order to herald a motion picture. Measuring 90 feet by 88 feet, it had over 10,000 lamp bulbs. The "S" of the title "SPARTACUS" was 30 feet high and the other letters were 22 feet high. For the film's festive premiere the cinema's 36 usherettes wore specially Hollywood designed togas rather than the customary usherette uniform. The toga costumes were inspired from those worn by Jean Simmons who plays the role of `Varinia' in the film. (Information from "Motion Picture Daily" from that time).

Following a series of invitational previews the widely-heralded BRYNA Production "Spartacus" (released by Universal International) had its world bow at New York's revered "DeMille Theatre" on 6th October 1960 (as a benefit for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts), where it consequently ran for 53 weeks (runtime source: Michael Coate & William Kallay).
A short article from the trade magazine "Motion Picture Daily" dated 17.08.1960:

50 "Spartacus" Prints

HOLLYWOOD, Aug. 16. – The initial order of "Spartacus" prints went to Technicolor this week. It was for fifty 70mm color prints. At 26 reels per print, this represents a run of over a million feet of film for the Technicolor plant, a run that is expected to take two months to process.
Image left from "Film Bulletin" dated 22.07.1960: Peter Ustinov (left) and John Gavin, both in New York for advance promotion activity on Universal's "SPARTACUS" back then, had visited `Artkraft-Strauss Sign Co.' in order to see how work had been progressing on their giant likenesses. The big round signs became part of the spectacular "SPARTACUS" advertising that had decorated the corner façade of the "DeMille Theatre".

Image right from "Motion Picture Exhibitor" dated 12.10.1960: a 70/35mm Victoria Cinemeccanica projector with an Ashcraft lamphouse installation in the projection room of New York's "DeMille Theatre" – the projector with which "SPARTACUS" was projected back then.

The movie's festive U.S. West Coast Premiere took place at the Los Angeles "RKO Pantages Theatre" on 19.10.1960, where it consequently ran for 61 weeks.

From the trade magazine " Motion Picture Exhibitor" dated 22.06.1960:

Pantages Gets "SPARTACUS"

HOLLWYOOD – "Spartacus", Bryna Productions` $12,000,000 epic film, has been booked into the "RKO Pantages" here for an extended, reserved-seat roadshow engagement commencing Oct. 19, it was jointly announced by RKO Theatres and Universal Pictures Company, Inc. – distributors of the film. The Hollywood engagement will be the third in the country, following the New York world premiere at the "DeMille" on Oct. 6, and the "McVickers", Chicago, opening Oct. 13.

Among the planned innovations at the new "Pantages" is a Swedish curtain, a mechanically operated drapery of opulent fabric which can, at the touch of a switch, alter the seating capacity from 2,800 down to 1,500. These 1,500 seats, the "heart of the house", will be used for the showing of "Spartacus", assuring perfect sight lines and hi-fi audio quality for each seat.
A short article from "Motion Picture Daily" dated 18.08.1960:

70mm for 2 Theatres – The sale of NORELCO 70/35mm projectors, as well as are lamps and 6-channel stereophonic sound equipment, to "RKO Pantages Theatre" in Hollywood and the "RKO Grand Theatre" in Cincinnati, Ohio, was announced by Todd-AO Corp.
The "RKO Pantages Theatre" in the evening of this extraordinary premiere. In order to accommodate a film of the importance of "SPARTACUS" (presented in Super Technirama 70), the theatre previously had to be closed for remodeling for a month. These transformations cost $150,000 (author's note: another source says $125,000). Image taken from the French trade magazine "Ciné-Télé-Revue" from that time.

An article from "International Projectionist" dated November 1960:
Bausch and Lomb has New 70mm Projection Lenses

A new Bausch and Lomb optical system for 70mm projection was used for the West Coast premiere of Bryna's "Spartacus" at the "RKO Pantages Theatre". This new Bausch and Lomb design permits the exhibitor to take full advantage of the high quality of production, which has been achieved in the film.

Advantages of this new system, according to the company, are: (1) Excellent depth of focus, (2) Extreme flatness of field, (3) Uniform screen illumination, (4) The new lenses are smaller than most lenses used for professional 35mm projection.

The Bausch and Lomb lenses used for "Spartacus" premiere, and a uniquely different 35mm design introduced at the New York Premiere of "Sunrise at Campobello" (author's note: at the "RKO Palace Theatre" on 28.09.1960), are the first two such sets of Bausch and Lomb lenses in the world.
758 screenings of "SPARTACUS" from one 70mm print with NORELCO 70/35mm projectors at the "RKO Pantages Theatre" in Los Angeles.

An advert from the North American Philips Company, Inc., taken from the trade magazine "Boxoffice" dated 05.03.1962.

A `technical triumph' in the field of motion picture projection – that's what it was called when a single Super Technirama 70 print was used for the entire 61-week run of "SPARTACUS" at Hollywood's "Pantages Theatre". By comparison, the life of the average 35mm print is 200 runs! (Author's note: I think that more than 400 runs are quite possible)
According to Universal-International's engineering chief, Walter Beyer, this unprecedented durability was due to the installation of new Philips Norelco projectors, and careful handling of the film by the theatre projectionists.

As more and more great 70mm attractions are produced, more and more theatres will naturally depend on the famed Norelco 70/35 – the time-tested and proven 70mm projector now used in twice as many theatres as all other makes combined.

Get all the facts about the complete line of Norelco motion picture equipment from your favorite theatre supply dealer today!

North American Philips Company, Inc., 100 East 42nd Street, New York 17, N.Y. – OXFORD 7-3600.

More detailed information about the remodeled Los Angeles "RKO Pantages Theatre" and the screening of "SPARTACUS" (in an extra bonus section also about the film's Berlin/Germany openings) is available in the report's attached PDF file.

An article from the trade magazine "International Projectionist" dated January 1962:

Grauman's Chinese Installs Norelco 70/35 Projectors

The famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, has installed Norelco Universal 70/35mm projectors, it was announced by Niels Tuxen, general manager of the motion picture equipment division of North American Philips Co., New York City. The installation was made in preparation for the engagement of the new 70mm picture "West Side Story" distributed by United Artists.

[Author's note: "Grauman's Chinese" is one of the most famous movie theatres in the world. It opened in May 1927 – today also known and branded as "TCL Chinese Theatre". In 2013, the naming rights were sold to the Chinese Electronic Company TCL (Telephone Communication Limited), and it was renamed "TCL Chinese Theatre"]

Tuxen added that some 130 theatres in the U.S. are now equipped with Norelco 70/35 projectors, including a number of drive-ins. "The amount of 70mm product available is rising sharply. A recent survey showed that approximately 70 pictures have already been released or are being planned in the 65mm and 70mm process", he said.

Image from the trade magazine "Boxoffice" dated 15.04.1963, and an article from "International Projectionist" dated July 1963: Previous Projector Wins Academy Award

[Author´s note: in 1963, a Scientific and Engineering Award – "Award of Merit for outstanding Achievement" – (a Class 2, golden plaque-style Oscar) from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for the design and engineering of the Norelco Universal 70/35mm motion picture projector. The 35th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 1962, were held at the "Santa Monica Civic Auditorium" in Santa Monica (California) on 08.04.1963].

The Norelco Universal 70/35mm projector (author's note: the successor model was the Norelco AAII UNIVERSAL 70/35 projector) received one of the special awards from the `Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' in recognition of outstanding technical achievement for the showing of the newer wide gauge films. It is the first such award in the projection field since 1959.

[Author's note: in 1960, Douglas G. Shearer of MGM, Inc., and Robert E. Gottschalk and John R. Moore of Panavision, Inc., had received a Scientific and Engineering Award (also a Class 2 – Academy Award plaque) for the development of a system of producing and exhibiting wide film motion pictures known as Camera 65]

Accepting a plaque for the `North American Philips Company' was Fred J. Pfeiff, technical manager of the motion picture equipment department of the firm.

Mr. Pfeiff has been closely associated with the development of the 70/35mm projection system since it first became available in 1955. Originally designed and developed through the joint efforts of the American Optical Corporation and Philips, this projector introduced the 70mm Todd-AO process into movie theatres. Jan Kotte of Norelco is to be commended as the original designer of this equipment.

Today there are more than 450 installations of the Norelco Universal 70/35mm projector in 35 states, Canada and other countries. In receiving the award, Mr. Pfeiff stressed that motion picture audiences the world over are enjoying greater clarity and better quality of screen images with less eye strain thanks to the wider films and the award-winning Norelco projection equipment.

And there are important benefits to the exhibitor, Pfeiff pointed out, explaining that a single 70mm print has been played for as many as 1000 runs, film damage is greatly reduced, and the Norelco 70/35mm projector may be converted in minutes for either 70mm or 35mm operation, providing the theatre owner with greater versatility in presenting the latest films.

Built primarily for 70mm with the added convenience of 35mm, the Norelco Universal 70/35mm projector enables audiences to see easily the tiniest photographic details in such current films as "Lawrence of Arabia", "Mutiny on the Bounty", "Cleopatra", and many more now in production.

An article on Fred J. Pfeiff from the trade magazine "Boxoffice" magazine dated 09.01.1961:

LONG EXPERIENCE IN FIELD – For the past five years, Pfeiff was chief engineer of the Theatre Equipment Division of Todd-AO Corporation, the original distributors of the Norelco 70/35mm projector. In that capacity, he supervised over 100 installations of the equipment in the United States and Canada.

Pfeiff's experience in the motion picture field dates back to the early days of sound, starting with the Acoustic Department of the Electrical Research Products (ERPI-Western Electric Incorporated – author's note: ERPI = Electrical Research Products Incorporated), which subsequently became the present Altec Service Company.

While with Altec, he was involved in a wide range of activities, including laboratory control, specialized equipment production, large screen TV, and the introduction of CinemaScope in the United States and Europe. Pfeiff is a member of the Audio Engineering Society and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
An advert taken from the French trade magazine "La Cinématographie Française" dated December 1961 about the successful Philips DP70 projector.

Dans l'annonce est écrit:

Succès mondial de la technique PHILIPS. Les plus belles images sur les plus grands écrans avec le prestigieux projecteur. Le projecteur Philips 70/35 est en service dans tous les pays du monde. Le succès du format 70mm s'affirme chaques jour avec de nouveaux films et de nouvelles installations. Parmi les plus spectaculaires réalizations françaises, citons: A) le `Palais du Festival' à Cannes, B) le `Gaumont-Palace' à Paris et C) le Paquebot `France'. (Philips / 162 Rue St-Charles, Paris)

In the advert is written: global success of the PHILIPS technique. The most beautiful images on the largest screens with the prestigious projector. The Philips 70/35 projector is in use in all countries of the world. Every day, the success of the 70mm format is confirmed with new films and new installations. Among the most spectacular French realizations let us quote: A) the `Palais du Festival' in Cannes, B) the `Gaumont-Palace' in Paris and C) the passenger vessel (paquebot) `France'. (Philips / 162 Rue St-Charles, Paris)

Fred J. Pfeiff (left), technical manager of Norelco Motion Picture Division of North American Philips Company, Inc., and Niels Tuxen (right), general manager of Communications and Electronics Division, inspect Philips motion picture installation on the "SS France" on the ship's first voyage to New York. (Image from "Boxoffice" magazine dated 09.04.1962)

More information on the French passenger vessel "SS France" and its maiden voyage from Le Havre to New York in February 1962 is available here:

Go to PDF: "La Fayette"

Go to PDF: The Successful Norelco Universal 70-35mm (Philips DP70) Film Projector

Go to: DP70 / Universal 70-35 / Norelco AAII - The Todd-AO Projector
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Updated 21-01-24