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“Back to the Future”: The North American 70mm Engagements
“He was never in time for his classes… He wasn’t in time for his dinner… Then one day…he wasn’t in his time at all.”

The 70mm Newsletter
Compiled by: Michael Coate Date: 30.07.2018
The following is a reference / historical listing of the 70-millimeter engagements of “Back to the Future” in North America. These were the cinemas worth seeking out to experience this film.

“Back to the Future” was among twenty-three confirmed first-run films released in 1985 with 70mm prints for selected engagements. The Amblin Entertainment production and Universal release — directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Who Framed Roger Rabbit”) and starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd — opened July 3rd.

Pre-release screenings included a sneak preview screening June 29th at Avco Center and an invitational preview July 2nd at the Cinerama Dome.

The 70mm prints of “Back to the Future” featured Six-Track Dolby Stereo (“A” encoded “baby boom” format) and pillarboxed imagery (approximately 1.85:1) blown up from spherical 35mm.

For the release of “Back to the Future,” Universal employed the services of Lucasfilm’s Theatre Alignment Program (TAP) to evaluate and approve the cinemas selected to book a 70mm print.

Universal circulated 70mm Six-Track Dolby coming-attraction trailers for “Creator,” “E.T.” (re-release), “Legend,” ”The Money Pit,” “Out of Africa” and “Weird Science” during the release of “Back to the Future.” Other studios circulated 70mm trailers during this period, as well. Ultimately, any 70mm trailers screened during 70mm presentations of “Back to the Future” varied by venue and screening.

The duration of the engagements (measured in weeks) has been included in parenthesis following the cinema name.

Los Angeles — GCC’s Avco Center Triplex (25) [THX]
Los Angeles — Pacific’s Cinerama Dome (14)
San Francisco — Blumenfeld’s Regency I (22)

Washington — Circle’s Avalon Twin (24) [HPS-4000]

New York — Loews’ State Twin (18)

Toronto — Cineplex Odeon’s Hyland Twin (20)

Dallas — GCC’s Northpark West Twin (21) [THX]

Note that some of the presentations included in this listing may have been presented in 35mm during the latter week(s) of engagement due to contractual terms or print damage and the distributor’s unwillingness to supply a 70mm replacement print or because the booking was moved to a non-70mm-equipped auditorium within a multiplex. As well, the reverse may have been true in some cases whereas a booking began with a 35mm print because the lab was unable to complete the 70mm print order in time for an opening-day delivery or the exhibitor negotiated a mid-run switch to 70mm. In these cases, any 35mm portion of the engagement (or movement out of a branded auditorium) has been included in the duration figure.


1985-10-11 … Los Angeles, CA — Pacific’s Hollywood Pacific Triplex (1)
1985-11-08 … Atlanta, GA — Columbia (6)
1985-12-04 … San Francisco, CA — Blumenfeld’s Regency II (2)
1985-12-20 … Downers Grove, IL — Classic Cinemas’ Tivoli (4)
1985-12-20 … San Francisco, CA — Blumenfeld’s Regency III (4)

1986-01-08 … Toronto, ON — Cinesphere* (12 days)
1986-02-21 … Toronto, ON — Cineplex Odeon’s Canada Square 8 (2) [THX]
1986-03-07 … Los Angeles, CA — Cineplex Odeon’s Century Plaza Twin (2) [HPS-4000]
1986-03-07 … Tucson, AZ — Cineplex Odeon’s El Dorado Twin (2)
1986-04-18 … San Francisco, CA — Cineplex Odeon’s Northpoint (2)
1986-06-06 … Los Angeles, CA — Pacific’s Hollywood Pacific Triplex (1) [w/ “E.T.”]
1986-06-23 … Atlanta, GA — Fox**
1986-08-29 … San Francisco, CA — Blumenfeld’s Regency I (1) [w/ “Howard the Duck”]

1987-03-18 … Toronto, ON — Cinesphere* (5 days)
1987-06-30 … Universal City, CA — Cineplex Odeon’s Universal City 18***

1988-03-16 … Toronto, ON — Cinesphere* (5 days)
1988-05-06 … Edmonton, AB — Cineplex Odeon’s Meadowlark (1)
1988-11-05 … Los Angeles, CA — Pacific’s Cinerama Dome****

1990-05-24 … Los Angeles, CA — Pacific’s Cinerama Dome***** (70mm?)
1990-05-24 … San Jose, CA — Syufy’s Century 22 Triplex***** (70mm?)

*Screened during the annual Winter 70mm Film Festival

**Screened during the 9th Annual Fox Summer Film Festival

***Screened during the Magnificent Movie Poll grand-opening event

****Screened during Steven Spielberg Day as a part of the Cinerama Dome’s 25th anniversary film festival, a 17-day, 35-title celebration of popular movies shown at the famous cinema between 1963 and 1988.

*****Screened during the Back-to-Back-to-Back triple feature event.

The information included in this article was principally referenced from film industry trade publications, regional newspaper promotion, print enclosures, TAP records, and Dolby records. Special thanks to John Emery, Bill Kallay and Bill Kretzel.

International 70mm engagements of this title have not been accounted for in this article.

If you believe this article contains any errors or omissions, please consider emailing the author or editor.
More in 70mm reading:

“Back to the Future Part II”: The North American 70mm Engagements

“Back to the Future Part III”: The North American 70mm Engagements

70mm Cinemas in North America

in70mm.com's list of films blown up to 70mm

70mm Engagements by Title

35mm to 70mm Engagements by Year

Large Format 7OMM Engagements

Month by month premiere list of wide gauge and 3-strip films

Chronological premiere list of major 70mm films

70mm Blow Up List

Dolby Stereo
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