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So,

I meet a group of friends at the Uptown Cinerama in DC to attend the 1pm showing of 2001: A Space Odyssey yesterday.


I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to this event. I was fortunate to see the premire engagement of 2001 back in '69 at the Uptown, and visually & sonically it was stunning. At times, I had to hold on to the seat, the images were so breathtaking on that huge curved screen: crisp, colorful, almost 3-D. I saw 2001 probably a dozen times during the roadshow run at the Uptown. The quality of that presentation has always been a benchmark for me. Folks who had not seen 2001 in such a theater had not truly seen the movie - period.


So, when I found out that MGM had remastered the movie in the 70mm, super panavision, 6-track format, and was showing it at the few remaining movie houses that can properly display it, I was thrilled.


I had recently added the remastered DVD to my collection, and although my intimate home theater does a good job of displaying 2001, it is nowhere as immersive as seen at the Uptown. I was encouraged by the look of the remastered DVD - crisp, detailed, colorful, and the sound was good, if not a bit 'screechy' at times. My expectations were very high...


BOY, WHAT A LETDOWN!

I don't even know where to begin. When we sat down, there were those hateful ads being displayed on the center of the huge curved screen. But at 1pm, the curtain closed, and as the lights dimmed, the overture begin. OH RAPTURE.


The curtains opened, and the blue screen with the stylized MGM lion appeared, filling one's field of vision. Boy, was the sound loud or what - oh well. But the first scenes told the sad story - WHAT AN UGLY LOOKING PRINT! I couldn't believe it. Smeary looking, ugly colors, dirt, scratches, grain - you name it, it looked like crap! And the projector could benefit from further tweaking as well. As far away from 3-D as one can get. No need to hold onto the seat for this lame ride. And the sound, pushed into distortion, was painful even for my younger friends.


Oh, my firends who had never seen the movie presented in this format were thrilled (one said, "Wow, I've never been to a movie with an intermission before.") Talk about low expectations!


And that's why today I weep. I weep for the lost art of projection, I weep for the shallow promises of the movie studios who are so careless with their precious property. I weep that the bean counters will not allow intermissions (not even for Titanic??), and that the Joe Sixpacks think the ugly pictures and painful distorted sound found at the local octaplex is state-of-the-art.


The current generation will never ever know how good a movie can look and sound. What a sad thing.
 

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That was a very interesting post Mike. It's truly sad that the art of projection has been abandoned almost completely. Still, I envy you. We lost our precious Indian Hills Cinerama theater in Omaha, Nebraska back in August. It's now a parking lot. Not because it wasn't economically viable, but that's a long story that I won't get into. Nevertheless, I won't have the opportunity to see that new print, and I envy you.
 

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Mike,


Too bad about your recent experience with 2001 on film.


I also saw 2001 back in early '69, at a very large cinema house in San Diego, California...and had a similar experience as yours; glorious looking 70mm images, with superb stereophonic sound. Oh, and indeed there was an intermission too, just like many roadshow engagements I had the utter pleasure of viewing many years before 2001 and throughout the 60s.


Indeed it is sad to see that high quality film projection showmanship has had such a meteoric downward spiral ever since...


-THTS
 

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My Dad took me to see this in 69, I was only 13 at the time, but it turned me into a SF lover forever.

What I don't understand, and perhaps you guys can tell me is this: How can a 70mm print not look as good as the DVD?

To many viewings? Incorrect focus? Improper blanking?

How do you get smeared colors?
 

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KennyG,


I think I would rather ask:


What film generation did the current 70mm theatrical prints of 2001 were sourced from?


I can't for the life of me explain why film would have "bleeding" colors (out of registration?) and similar visible problems...unless it was a total botched up job from the lab (possible).


I know original 70mm theatrical prints, taken from the original 70mm (65mm) camera elements, looked superb, so I find this whole affair extremely puzzling... :confused:


-THTS
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Supposedly, this is a new print, but I think only one was created, and the print has gone from theatre to theatre. I saw evidence of damage to the print (especially during the trip scene). I imagine that the condition of 70mm projectors around the county (last count was around 12 - CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!!!) is variable.


I don't know the specifics of how they created the print, but the colors were all off and grain was very evident. Probably it was a print made from the orginal negative (33 years old!). The remastered DVD looks better in every way!


Can they 'clean up' a negative before they produce the print?
 

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Mike,


Interesting stuff...about the print being one off one. I have no idea what was used to produce the theatrical print, but I am determined to find out. Perhaps I can come up with something that can help explain this affair soon.


You know, I was told not long ago that if I really wanted a newly struck 70mm print of Lawrence Of Arabia all I had to do was to plunk down $10,000 and would be mine...less public exhibition rights, of course.

Now, for me $10K is a real fortune, but for WB (the new owners of 2001, I believe), who has about as much cash available as does Bill Gates, such a figure is a mere pittance. Thus it boggles the mind as to why they ordered only one theatrical print!

But perhaps was as you say: the lack of more 70mm exhibition venues availability now days?


The Norelco AA2 35/70mm film projector I wound up with (a friend of mine bought its twin brother) was one of eight such projectors that once graced an older cinema house somewhere back East, which was slated for the wrecking ball in order to give room to a "modern" cinema multiplex complex (no more 70mm exhibitions there!).

I paid around $1800 for it, yet the damned thing originally sold for a cool $60K in 1960! These 1000+ pound beauties are considered to be the Rolls Royce of film projection, and they handle both 35mm and 70mm film prints with rock solid stability and the gentleness of a baby's touch...so long as operators do their part. Go figure...


-THTS
 
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