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In 70mm at the PARAMOUNT OPÉRA

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Francois CARRIN Date: 28.02.2009
At the Paris premiere of the "Faubour 36" free samples of 70mm film was given away.

An EVENT OF NOTE to 70mm film-lovers occurred on Wednesday September 24th, 2008: for the first time since 2002, and the restoration of "Play Time" to its original 70mm format, a new feature film was released in a 70mm print! It’s Christophe Barratier’s new film, “Faubourg 36”, featuring brilliant performances by Gerard Jugnot, Clovis Cornillac, Kad Merad, Pierre Richard and Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu. But let’s be clear here: to date, the average reviews from the critics have been, at best, mixed; will this film be successful? For example, on 25/09/08 at 1.50 I was attending the first matinee on the day following the opening: grand total = about 50 patrons! And I’d remind you that Christophe Barratier is the director of the famous “The Choir” in 2004.
More in 70mm reading:


Francois Carrin

Internet link:

At the Paris premiere of the "Faubour 36" free samples of 70mm film was given away.

The second day of the general run, (25 Sept.), I arrive in Paris-Nord station by a direct TGV from Lille, following a connection from a regional train from my town of Valenciennes. It’s a typical nice autumn day. Another 15 minutes by underground Metro and I am in front of the famous PARAMOUNT OPERA – the building front is listed as a historical monument. Despite having been purchased by Gaumont Company, The PARAMOUNT OPERA theatre still proudly still displays the neon sign, and lobby doors, with the famous Paramont logo: the mountain peak with the stars ***.
Release dates from imdb.com

Canada 6 September 2008 (Toronto Film Festival)
Belgium 24 September 2008
France 24 September 2008
Greece 26 September 2008 (Athens Film Festival)
Greece 6 November 2008
Germany 27 November 2008
Israel 18 December 2008
Portugal 15 January 2009
UK 26 January 2009
UK 14 February 2009 (Glasgow Film Festival)
Spain 27 February 2009
France 25 March 2009 (DVD premiere)
USA 3 April 2009 (limited)
Czech Republic 9 April 2009
Australia 30 April 2009
Image by Francois CARRIN, France

I take some pictures, especially the words “Projection in 70mm” and “7 Tracks Digital Sound”. At the box-office a charming receptionist gives us some souvenir pieces of a 70mm print, probably coming from stock-shots or printing tests. She takes it from a 2500 ft metallic film can. It’s the usual diameter can, but is double thick, of course (2 x 35mm)! Another receptionist is busily placing little posters on the theatre’s glass doors, with explanations about the 70mm format. The film is screened in the upper theatre, numbered #3, the former balcony of the grand old PARAMOUNT. The booth is equipped with a Kinoton FP30-D and a DP75 – 7000W X bulb, using a Benoist-Berthiot 110mm Super Cinestar lens. The theatre has 800 seats, a 16.50m screen with 2 curtains -- very rare in these times! But the sad thing: this is the first Thursday matinee of this new show in a 70mm print, and the audience is only 50. The audience appears to be comprised mostly of retired people. After trailers and ads in 35mm, the feature starts with the PATHE logo and … it’s a disaster; no sound!
From left to right: Franck NIS - Kinepolis-Le Chateau du Cinema. Chief-projectionist, Jean-Paul MATHE - Paramount-Opera. Chief-projectionist and Bernard DESFORGES - former CINERAMA/ KINOPANORAMA enthusiast & now 9.5mm collector. Image by Francois Carrin

A few moments later they stop the screening and a receptionist comes to inform us about technical problems with the 70mm DTS decoder. And then, an even rarer event happens: the projectionist unloads the machine, and backs up the print on the platter (not an easy task!), in order to start again! I think that’s only the second time that I’ve seen such an attitude: the first was in March 2008, in Bradford, with “STAR!”. I call this attitude “performing your work conscientiously”!!! Only one member of the audience, apparently a bit small-minded, became upset over the delay. After about 20 minutes, they were able to start again.

Then it was the sight of an absolute delight: images and sound of an unsurpassable quality… complete with digital audio. Uninitiated members of the audience might not know whether it is from an original 65mm negative, but it’s not at all: it’s only a 35mm or Super35mm negative. Yet to now be on the screen, in such a steadiness, and frame sharpness comparable to an academy screening, this is paradise!  Film locations (the film was photographed in Prague) and colors are glorious. And, the 70mm enhances beautifully the music and the ballets, especially the section about 2/3 of the way through.
Image by Francois Carrin

Which goes to show, yet again, that a 35mm  70mm good quality blowup is better than standard old 35mm Cinemascope. In my opinion I still think that to screen Cinemascope 35mm on any screen wider than 20.00m is a sacrilege. At the end, during end titles, all the members of the audience (except that small-minded complainer!) remained seated to watch (and listen to) the end credits. Then, as the audience exited, remarks overheard were positive and enthusiastic. Myself – I’m sincere – I had tears in my eyes…I don’t lie!

I called Jean-René FAILLOT just after my return to home, to congratulate him. M. Faillot is the Laboratory Manager of ARANE-GULLIVER laboratory, in Clichy. This lab is one of the VERY RARE laboratories processing 70mm in Europe (and in the world ), printing, blowing up or reducing, and he can be proud of his efforts! Then he informed me about new tests for a new 70mm filming but… shhhhh!, it’s a secret for the moment.

I hope that this production will be successful with the 70mm version, despite the lack of interest from the French media (especially newspapers, TV news, Pariscope & L’Officiel), none of which generally are tuned in or sympathetic to describe or promote any special techniques. After the Parisian 70mm playdates, this print will go to a Normandy cinema… and after? I especially wish that most of the”ALICCiens” (members of ALICC= Inter Cinema Collectors Link Agency)** -- certainly those having passion for wide screen cinema -- can see this feature in this 70mm version, in order to be able to appreciate the values of 70mm presentation.

I previously mentioned something on the ALICC forum: Thomas Hauerslev (in70mm.com) and I had been privately informed by ARANE-GULLIVER manager Jean-René FAILLOT about 70mm printing tests of this feature during our visit to the laboratory on July 21st 2008. However, they did not have a final decision about a 70mm print at that time, and Jean-René asked us to be discreet about discussing this project until it had been given final approval.
Image by Francois Carrin

** The French ALICC (“Agence de Liaison Inter Collectionneurs de Cinéma”) publishes a review 4 times a year named “INFOS-CINE” and has an Internet site. Unfortunately, that site is in French only! The recent issue of INFOS-CINE-n° 71/December 2008, has a big article about "HTWWW" and CINERAMA.

***Ultimate and sad news!
During December of 2008, all Paramount logos were removed from front and doors theatre. Now the name is… GAUMONT OPERA.
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Updated 21-01-24