Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on January 20, 2006 at 5:36 pm

REndres -
Thanks for clarifying the early days of CinemaScope via Marty Hart’s site. I haven’t read through all of his material in a long time.

Regarding the weight of 70mm reels, how would you compare it to a fully-loaded 6000' reel of 35mm acetate? I’ve always wanted to run 70mm but, sadly, will probably never get to do it. But at least I’ve run just about every 35mm format during my festivals at the Lafayette.

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on January 20, 2006 at 5:22 pm

If you check the Widescreen Museum, Martin Hart has a copy of the original CinemaScope handbook on line. The cuved screens were also meant to emulate to some extent the Cinerama screens although the curve was shallower, dictated by the projection throw as a radius. Another reason for the curve in addition to focus was light distribution. The Fox “Miracle Mirror” screens were aluminized and fairly high-gain. You could actually run Polarized 3-D on them. In addition they were embossed with lenticulations to further focus the light into the audience. There were for a while “Miracle Mirror” screens which were designed for theatres with a steep projection angle such as the Music Hall which has a nominal 19 degree downward projection angle. The lenticulations would be embossed at a 5 degree tilt to bring the light (which would be be reflected off the screen at a downward angle into the orchestra) up to cover at least the back of the house and front balcony. Fox insisted on a curved screen for all CinemaScope installations, which meant the Music Hall couldn’t run Scope until MGM released “Knights of the Roundtable” a year later. They wanted it at the Hall and said they didn’t care if the screen were curved.

Vito: Yes we ran reel-to-reel for MFL, but since one reel (and case) had been destroyed I was able to splice the two reels on one. We did use 6,000' 35mm reels after we installed xenon lamps to save strikes on the bulbs, and as did the Ziegfeld, we doubled up a number of our 70mm prints combining two reels on one. You could usually do that because the 70mm single reels were designed for 30 frame 70mm release and could accomodate two of the average 24 frame 70mm release reels. When I think about all those double 70mm reels I lifted at the Ziegfeld I shutter — I’m not sure I could do that now! We did use platters for “Lion King” because Disney wanted Dolby Digital sound and there was no 70mm digital format at the time. Thus we interlocked a 70mm print to a 35mm print with Dolby Digital running on the next projector. (Although this really belongs on the Hall site, we also ran “Napoleon” and other silent features on 6,000' reels to make it easier for the conductor to keep the score synchronized consistantly on each show by minamizing any discrepency that might occur with multiple changeovers.The opposite situation occurred with the Universal festival. We were running archival prints and the studio didn’t want them assembled on platters or 6,000' reels. We always wanted to accomodate the producers when we could.)

Movieguy718
Movieguy718 on January 20, 2006 at 5:18 pm

Not a comment about the Ziegfeld, but about theatres with with/without projectionists…
I have seen movies in theatres with fulltime projectionists who do a truly crappy job – and if there’s a problem, they can usually be found sitting around or holding up a wall or having coffee and usually are incapable of fixing the problem anyway. I have left the auditorium to try to get sound/projection problems fixed up to SIX times at a single showing (at a union theatre with a “tech” on duty) with zero results – for really simple things to fix (wrong sound format, pictures out of focus, picture on the wall, low volume.) Conversely, I’ve been in manager run theatres where they do a superb job and if there happens to be a problem, it is usually fixed. I always come away with the feeling that the projectionists just don’t want to be bothered.
At the manager run theatres, the answer to a complaint is “I’ll fix that for you right away” and it usually is done by the time I’m back in the auditorium. At union theatres the answer is “I’ll let the projectionist know.” The second time “I told the projectionist, I’ll call him again.” The third time I get a manager and it’s “The projectionist said he was just up there and nothing is wrong. I’ll call him again.” The fourth time it’s “The projectionist said that’s what the movie is supposed to sound like.” Then I have the manager come into the theatre with me at which point he says “Oh, I see. I’ll call again.” The fifth time I tell the manager that it’s the fifth time I’ve had to come out about this and then he says “I’ll go up there myself.” And then he does and manages to fix the problem.
Additionally, most complaints are about loud trailers (that really aren’t that loud anymore) and every single projectionist I have spoken with either doesn’t know about or is too lazy to use the capability of the new sound processors to set a separate sound cue for each commercial/trailer so that the feature can be shown at the proper level. They’re too busy holding up the walls.
Sorry to vent on you guys, but I see about 150 movies each year and that has been my experience in general. There are good and bad in all professions, but here in NYC, I find that there are more bad projectionists than good.

Movieguy718
Movieguy718 on January 20, 2006 at 5:17 pm

Not a comment about the Ziegfeld, but about theatres with with/without projectionists…
I have seen movies in theatres with fulltime projectionists who do a truly crappy job – and if there’s a problem, they can usually be found sitting around or holding up a wall or having coffee and usually are incapable of fixing the problem anyway. I have left the auditorium to try to get sound/projection problems fixed up to SIX times at a single showing (at a union theatre with a “tech” on duty) with zero results – for really simple things to fix (wrong sound format, pictures out of focus, picture on the wall, low volume.) Conversely, I’ve been in manager run theatres where they do a superb job and if there happens to be a problem, it is usually fixed. I always come away with the feeling that the projectionists just don’t want to be bothered.
At the manager run theatres, the answer to a complaint is “I’ll fix that for you right away” and it usually is done by the time I’m back in the auditorium. At union theatres the answer is “I’ll let the projectionist know.” The second time “I told the projectionist, I’ll call him again.” The third time I get a manager and it’s “The projectionist said he was just up there and nothing is wrong. I’ll call him again.” The fourth time it’s “The projectionist said that’s what the movie is supposed to sound like.” Then I have the manager come into the theatre with me at which point he says “Oh, I see. I’ll call again.” The fifth time I tell the manager that it’s the fifth time I’ve had to come out about this and then he says “I’ll go up there myself.” And then he does and manages to fix the problem.
Additionally, most complaints are about loud trailers (that really aren’t that loud anymore) and every single projectionist I have spoken with either doesn’t know about or is too lazy to use the capability of the new sound processors to set a separate sound cue for each commercial/trailer so that the feature can be shown at the proper level. They’re too busy holding up the walls.
Sorry to vent on you guys, but I see about 150 movies each year and that has been my experience in general. There are good and bad in all professions, but here in NYC, I find that there are more bad projectionists than good.

BobT
BobT on January 20, 2006 at 5:10 pm

I saw MFL and “The Exorcist” at RCMH. Lady, I thought looked terrific but “The Exorcist” was a disaster. Especially since they advertised a restored 70MM print. It was so bad that when William Friedkin and Ellen Burstyn came out on stage after the film, Friedkin apologized for the terrible condition of the print.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 20, 2006 at 5:09 pm

Thanks Peter and Vincent. After realizing that I had posted a link to the excellent widescreen museum site a number of posts back, I availed myself of the information therein and have received a nice education on the rectification process associated with single strip Cinerama presentation. I really hope this policy continues at the Ziegfeld beyond the 5 weeks currently scheduled. I plan on seeing (finally!) “Ben Hur” and “West Side Story” on the big screen at the Ziegfeld (and will probably take the kids to experience the original “Raiders of the Lost Ark” as intended), but I look forward to a screening of “2001: A Space Odyssey” – if only my prayers would be answered.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on January 20, 2006 at 4:54 pm

And early Cinemascope is wider than Panavision.

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on January 20, 2006 at 4:22 pm

Ed Solero:

In terms of standard 35mm “anamorphic” (CinemaScope, Panavision, et al), no correction was made to the prints. The reason they curved the ‘scope screens for 35mm early on was because it was easier to get a focus on the edges of the image. As the projection optics improved, the curvature wasn’t as neccesary.

For films exhibited in 70mm single-lens Cinerama, they made optically-rectified (on the sides) prints to compensate for the extreme curvature of the screen. Standard 70mm films (West Side Story, Sound of Music, et al) were generally not designed for curved screens. Please note that there are also exceptions, MGM’s Camera65 productions such as Ben-Hur had special 70mm prints made that required a special anamorphic lens to project the extreme wide ratio of that film. Normal 70mm films are not as wide as 35mm CinemaScope/Panavision films.

Much more information about this can be gained by visiting the Widescreen Museum website: www.widescreenmuseum.com

pbubny
pbubny on January 20, 2006 at 4:21 pm

That’s a shame, as “The New World” would look dazzling in a wide-gauge print and there are so few opportunities to see new movies projected AND filmed in 70mm anymore outside of the IMAX theatres. But in NYC, almost all of the 70mm-capable houses are gone, to say nothing of the situation in smaller cities.

Vito
Vito on January 20, 2006 at 4:15 pm

Great story REndres, but what did you mean you had to splice to the next reel? did you not run reel to reel? (Oh no, here we go again)
by the way, what are your thoughts about the ziegfeld running platter

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 20, 2006 at 4:03 pm

Too bad, I was just thinking, that the Ziegfeld screen is so flat – pleasing as the size of the screen is from mid-center orchestra. I mean, I don’t recall any curvature at all. I assume that the 35mm prints that will likely be exhibited were intended for flat screens despite the aspect ratios. This may sound like a dumb question, but humor me: When original scope films were projected, was there an optical correction made in the print for the screen curvature or was the process controlled wholly by the anamorphic projector lens? I seem to recall from a DVD of “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” where several trims from the original cut were included as extra features and were shown in a distorted wide screen image that had been corrected for projection onto the deeply curved Cinerama screen. So, for single-strip Cinerama projection, the correction was obviously in the print itself… does the same hold for the widescreen processes behind “Ben Hur” and “West Side Story”?

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on January 20, 2006 at 2:38 pm

The print of MFL that we played at the Radio City Warner series came from Kit Parker and was amazingly beaten up for a relatively recent release. The film case for one of the 70mm reels looked as if it had been run over by a fork lift. We were doing a concert when the print came in, and I had to take the case down to the stage where our stage crew took the case down to the shop and literally cut the reel out of the case. The reel itself was bent above the print so that the two flanges actually touched, and we had to pry them apart to get at the film. Fortunately, 70mm wound tightly is pretty firm, so the print itself wasn’t damaged, but I had to splice the reel to the next reel. When we called to ask for a replacement reel and case Parker’s office said to send it back on one our house reels —that “those old theatares had reels lying around.”! No — it went back spliced to the next reel. We had played “Exorcist” in the only 70mm print existing just before MFL, and there was a splice in MFL that reminded me of the prior film as so many frames had been cut out that Julie Andrew’s head snapped around much like Linda Blair’s. The “Exorcist” print was also almost completely faded. When the production department head asked if the “pea soup” scene was in tact, I said, “Yes. But think tomato soup!”

By the way, there was some thought given to releasing some prints of Malick’s “New World” in 70mm, since it some of it was shot on 65mm, but apparently there weren’t enough prime theatres left that can do 70mm to make it worth while.

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on January 20, 2006 at 2:28 pm

No, a run of 27 shows wouldn’t wear a print out unless there was a mechanical issue. But that print and the other MFL’s from 1993 – there were probably only 3 or 4 struck – played a number of other venues and at each stop there would certainly be a chance for additional wear and tear. When most films finish their runs, the majority of the prints are junked whether they are worn or not. The Music Hall print would have come from Kit Parker, so it’s most likely gone. If MOMA has a 70mm print in their permanent collection, they probably would not loan it out.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on January 20, 2006 at 2:18 pm

I guess we were lucky to see the prints that still existed in the 70’s.
I still hope the MOMA print or the Music Hall print from their Warner Brothers festival can be used.
By the way when the Ziegeld held the 93 restoration it was only for 9 days. Would this print then be available? Or would 27 showings wear down a 70mm print?

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on January 20, 2006 at 2:11 pm

Vincent – Not neccesarily, but it will be more and more rare since the only new prints they can strike are 70mm DTS prints and there are even fewer theatres that can play that format than standard 70mm mag sound. And virtually all of the vintage 70mm prints from prior to 1983 have faded and/or succumbed to warping by now. So the only 70mm prints you’d be seeing – if any – will be prints struck from 1983-2001 (that probably have a lot of mileage) or newly struck with DTS tracks. If you want to see 70mm, your best bet is to keep your eyes on the festivals in L.A. in England, where they sometimes run the rare good condition studio prints but often also run totally faded prints.

Re: junking prints – they would usually do it once the print reached a certain level of wear. And when a company closes up shop, it’s cheaper to junk the prints than it is to store the films until the new buyer is ready for them. Sad but true.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on January 20, 2006 at 2:05 pm

Why would anybody junk a 70mm print of My Fair Lady? It would be like tearing down Penn Station all over again. I believe the Moma might have one. I saw it there a few years ago(screen was too small to do it justice.) Does it still exist?

William
William on January 20, 2006 at 1:59 pm

Hi Vito, Thanks for your thoughts. I the main problem is that there are so many poorly trained amatuers in the booths today.

I still run reel to reel here in Manhattan. And it feels good :)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 20, 2006 at 1:52 pm

This is the best cinematic news I’ve heard in quite a long time. 70mm would be a blast of whipped crime atop an already frosted cake. I wonder what the life expectancy of this programming will be beyond the weekend of the Academy Awards telecast.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on January 20, 2006 at 1:51 pm

So does this mean we’ll never see 70mm again?

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on January 20, 2006 at 1:40 pm

I would doubt that they are in 70mm – I don’t think MGM had any runable prints of WSS in 70mm and now that Sony owns the film, they would probably not strike 70mm prints since the capability to run them is so limited (they can’t do magnetic striping at the labs any longer). I think MFL’s 70mm prints were junked when Kit Parker Films closed up shop. I don’t know about Ben-Hur, the last 70mm of it that I saw was in 1990 or so – I’m running it in 35mm for 4 days in April at the Lafayette.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on January 20, 2006 at 1:32 pm

Oh my god. So there is a programmer out there who knows what he’s doing?
Please, please, please, let Ben Hur, WSS and MFL be in genuine 70mm!!!
How can we find out?

Vito
Vito on January 20, 2006 at 12:17 pm

Hi William, good to hear your thoughts, although I think when you use the word progress it should be “progress"
I understand the need for film transport systems in multi screen or manager/operator theatres, however that does not apply to the Ziegfield where full time union projectionists are employed. As for the studios prefernce to platters over reel to reel, please, the chance of error on one of these contraptions is far greater than running reel to reel. Platters can, and often do, have brain wraps which can delay the show for several minutes, prints can be thrown
either off center or completly off the platter where the print dangles like a dead fish, causing delays of a very long time or even complete cancellation of a performance. Then there are the scratches on prints caused by rollers forced out of alignment or damage done to them by mylar prints brain wrapping. In addition I have seen prints with reels spiced together either out of frame or out of sequence, I even saw a show where the third reel was spliced in up side down. As you know, I could go on with the problems cused by platters. As for reel to reel, like most professional projectionists, I could count the number of missed changeovers or other mishaps I experienced on one hand. Yeah, I know, I’m an ole fool for trying to hang on to the past, but one of the biggest problems, next to people taking on cell phones,in our theatres today is poor projection caused by poorly trained amatuers, running platters (God I hate them) and killing off the great art of
projection. There I feel better now :)

chconnol
chconnol on January 20, 2006 at 11:38 am

Oh BOY! They’re showing “The Godfather”. Man, that’s a hard one to catch. It’s NEVER on cable.

But I would like to see “Chinatown” on a big screen.

Sorry for the sarcasm but I agree that they’re using their heads now with programming like that. I work just a couple of blocks away and I’m wondering if there’s someway I could sneak one in. I could say I’ve got a long meeting to attend…

veyoung52
veyoung52 on January 20, 2006 at 11:37 am

Anybody know yet the “format” (gauge, audio system) of these individual presentations, in particular, WWStory?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 20, 2006 at 10:27 am

Here’s the website: http://clearviewcinemas.com/

And holy cow! What a line-up!