Ziegfeld Theatre

141 W. 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 28, 2006 at 10:27 am

Most 70mm presentations in the 70’s and 80’s were blow-ups from 35mm negatives. Other than IMAX, very few movies in the last 20-30 years have been photographed on wide-guage stock (“Tron” and “Far and Away” come to mind). This includes all the original Star Wars films. There were a number of films, however, that did utilize 65mm film stock for the special effects photography (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Contact”) but even that gave way to the use of 35mm VistaVision for optical shots.

Vito
Vito on February 28, 2006 at 10:12 am

Movieguy, I really can’t make it any clearer than I have already, of course their were exceptions, but having seen the deteriation going on in film presentation during the 60s and 70s I can tell you, Lucas helped make some impressive improvments. As to death of 70mm, we all know that, with the exception of IMAX it is no more and I have said many times in other threads I have never thought Digital Cinema was better than 35mm film because it most certainly is not. By the way I attended a few THX cerifications, they were tough, I saw a theatre lose out simply because the theatres HVAC (heat/air conditioning) systems hummed too loud. Eventually exibitors stopped buying into it.
You are right with respect to the cost when talking about Digital Cinema, only the studios gain here, there is nothing in it for the theatre owners. People don’t care if a movie is shown in DLP, it does not come into play when making a descion about seeing a movie.
I will say, I suggest you check out the Dolby 3-D Cinema, it is quite amasing. I also loved IMAX but it seems to be slipping away as well, not many films being made available anymore. The same could be said for Digital Cinema, very few films being shown now, in fact none since Christmas.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 28, 2006 at 10:06 am

Vito must be referring to enhancements to 70mm film presentation in the ‘70’s and '80’s for, surely, he is way too young to have been involved with the development of 70mm film stock that goes back to the late 1920’s!

Unfortunately, Lucas hasn’t contributed much to the enhancement of the movie going experience from an ARTISTIC point of view in nearly 30 years! While technically dazzling, these last three Star Wars installments contain some of the worst dialog, most wooden performances (from the human beings) and flat direction I can remember in such big budget, high profile, major studio productions.

Vito
Vito on February 28, 2006 at 9:56 am

Sorry Bob, I did not mean to confuse you, Lucas did not develop 70mm but he was a big supporter of the process, which had all but dyed out in the late 60s. It was Lucas with “Star Wars” that started the trend of using 70mm again, coupled with the use of Dolby sound. I give credit to Lucas for the explosion of Dolby stereo with the release of “Star Wars” in 70mm mag as well as Dolby Stereo optical.

Movieguy718
Movieguy718 on February 28, 2006 at 9:55 am

Vito,

Not be argumentative, but you say >>>he did play a role in how well the picture and sound were presented.<<< Clearly you have never been to the Chelsea 9 – there is no such thing as good picture and sound there. If you mean that he ensured a good sound mix and premium quality prints, well – that doesn’t matter much if the theaters don’t live up to the standard.
I agree with most of your comments about what he did for film presentation, but… 70mm is dead. THX in theatres is dead. Before it died, we had… either 3 or 5 (depending on who you ask) rooms that were THX certified. Digital Cinema is not even up to the quality of 35mm and is really about saving studios money. DLP completely underwhelms me. It is bright tho. Very bright. And usually very red also…

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on February 28, 2006 at 9:44 am

I didn’t know Lucas had anything to do with the development of 70mm!

Vito
Vito on February 28, 2006 at 9:38 am

By the way, Fox did not only have problems with Loews, but National Amusements and others as well. The cost(%)to exhibitors to show Fox films was just too high.

Vito
Vito on February 28, 2006 at 9:33 am

Movieguy, Lucas did noy have the power to dictate which theatres played the films, those decisions were usually made by biding and other methods through the studio and film buyers. However he did play a role in how well the picture and sound were presented. If you think about it, eventually, “Star Wars” played in just about every dumb in town, there wasn’t much George could have done about that.
I saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears, Lucas was a pioneer in developing methods of improving picture and sound quality in theatres. Beginning with 70mm, THX and continuinmg today with Digital, I know no one who has contributed more to the enhancment the movie going experience.

Movieguy718
Movieguy718 on February 28, 2006 at 9:06 am

VITO,

I read about how much Lucas is concerned about where they show his movies, YET… all three new Star Wars pictures were shown in the crappiest theaters in the city (Ziegfeld excepted.) The Park and 86st, the 86st East, the Clearview 62/1, the Clearview Chelsea 9, the Murray Hill come to mind immediately. Granted, Fox had $$$ issues with Loews but if Lucas cared soooo much, he certainly would not have allowed his babies to be displayed in these places. It’s all about the bottom line, not the audience (who doesn’t really care cuz they went to these dumps anyway.)

Z.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 28, 2006 at 9:05 am

Astyanax: “Helen of Troy” is out on DVD from Warner Home Video, and it includes the overture.

Astyanax
Astyanax on February 28, 2006 at 7:39 am

Max Steiner’s overture for Helen of Troy may have been one of the best characteristics of a disappointing film. The early scenes in Sparta are defintiely a snore, until the start of the battle scenes in front of Troy.

Don’t know if there is a DVD version yet, but the VCR edition has a separate segment devoted exclusively to the remarkable overture.

Vito
Vito on February 28, 2006 at 5:37 am

Thanks for that update Peter, it does not surprise me that Lucas has decided to to go Digital rather than IMAX, he is one of Hollwood’s biggest Digital supporters. I saw the new Disney Dolby 3-D cinema format demonstrated this past fall, I was quite impressed,it is quite amasing, which is saying a lot for old die hard film guy like myself. The problem is you can’t use the same Digital projectors curently in use, exhibitors will have to purchase additional servers as some did for “Chicken Little”. However, with Lucas on board we will perhaps see more of the Digital format, both flat and 3-D than we currently do. Although I am in favor of film in motion picture theatres, I will support anything that helps get folks back to our theatres in force again.

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on February 28, 2006 at 5:14 am

The next re-release of the Star Wars films is scheduled for 2007 with the new “converted to digital 3-D versions” that Lucas is currently working on.

Vito
Vito on February 28, 2006 at 4:20 am

My last discussion with the guys at Fox regarding “Star Wars” was, that lucas still has plans to release all of the movies in IMAX.
I don’t know how far along that idea has progressed.
As for “Star Wars” at the Ziegfeld, I can only tell you based on my experiences with his movies in theatres, Lucas is a control freak, print quality and presentation is, as it should be, extremly important to him. He involves himself in many aspects of the films showings in our theatres, including dictating which size auditoriums could be used in Multiplex Cinemas, which trailers (previews) could be shown before the movie and even the types of ads or slides that could be shown.
In 1983 Lucas helped develop the THX Theatre Alignment Program (TAP) as a service to filmmakers and studios. TAP was/is the industry’s most comprehensive quality assurance program whose services include reviewing release prints for image and soundtrack quality, distribution to theatres of technical facts about a film and proper equipment alignment, on-site equipment alignment
I am sure if “Star Wars” were to be presented at the Ziegfeld he would most certainly get involved.

SWIJ3
SWIJ3 on February 28, 2006 at 2:52 am

My mistake on the Star Wars screenings, hope the Indiana Jones are crisp

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 27, 2006 at 5:50 pm

I wonder if anyone who visits this page attended any of the LOTR showings. I saw all of these in theaters on their initial runs and have enjoyed the expanded DVD’s since then, so I elected to skip this series. Curious as to how well they are being attended, however, and whether the prints are good. In different times, these movies would have rightly been released (perhaps even filmed) in 70mm during their initial runs.

I don’t think any of the Star Wars films are scheduled for this series. Besides, if they were, how much would you wager that Lucas even allows prints to be struck any longer, the huge proponent of digital technology that he is. Not sure I’ll be able to make it to any of the Indiana Jones flicks (though I am trying to arrange for it) but I will definitely be around for “2001” and – with some luck – “Lawrence of Arabia.” I hope folks post on the quality of those prints before I make the trip in.

SWIJ3
SWIJ3 on February 27, 2006 at 4:01 pm

Any news onn the Star Wars and Indiana Jones prints?

How was the LOTR showings?

Vito
Vito on February 27, 2006 at 8:17 am

For the premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, the program includes short subjects, a theatre orchestra overture by Al Erickson directing, and a prologue by Sid Grauman.

YMike
YMike on February 27, 2006 at 8:06 am

If this overture was not originally part of the film it should not have been added to the DVD. Maybe the overture was added to the film for foreign distribution and not used in the US.

Vito
Vito on February 27, 2006 at 7:40 am

Do we know if the original 1933 Roxy/Music hall run included overture?
Opps, now I’ve started something : )

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on February 27, 2006 at 6:40 am

I agree Ed. I’m seeing this gent tomorrow and I’ll ask for additional details…

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 27, 2006 at 6:14 am

Bob… if your Kong expert is correct, that raises an interesting debate in corrolation to this topic. By adding the “overture” to the DVD, are the producers doing the film a disservice by adding something to the presentation that was never intended by the film makers? Similar criticism was aimed at the “restored” VHS version of “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” that included some footage that Kramer never intended to see the light of day in an effort to return the film to as close an original “roadshow” length as possible.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 27, 2006 at 5:58 am

Robert Wise’s “Helen of Troy” (1956) had an overture, and quite a lengthy one, by Max Steiner.

Vito
Vito on February 27, 2006 at 5:46 am

TCM has now included the overture when they play the film.

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on February 27, 2006 at 5:38 am

I was told by a Kong expert that the “overture” on the DVD was not played before the film in 1933. It was recorded for a souvenir record created after the film was released.