Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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PeterApruzzese on January 20, 2006 at 8:22 am

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 on January 20, 2006 at 8:21 am

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 on January 20, 2006 at 8:15 am

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 8:03 am

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 on January 20, 2006 at 6:38 am

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 on January 20, 2006 at 6:28 am

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 on January 20, 2006 at 6:18 am

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 on January 20, 2006 at 6:11 am

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 on January 20, 2006 at 6:05 am

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 on January 20, 2006 at 5:59 am

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 5:52 am

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 on January 20, 2006 at 5:51 am

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

PeterApruzzese on January 20, 2006 at 5:40 am

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 on January 20, 2006 at 5:32 am

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 on January 20, 2006 at 4:17 am

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 on January 20, 2006 at 3:38 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 on January 20, 2006 at 3:37 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 2:27 am

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

And holy cow! What a line-up!

RobertR on January 20, 2006 at 2:19 am

Am I crazy? I can’t find the list on the Clearview site?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 20, 2006 at 1:41 am

And if any Clearview executives are reading this page: Thank You! I’m sure we at Cinema Treasures will be attending in force.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 20, 2006 at 1:16 am

I’d say this falls under the heading of A Dream Come True. My only big concern is how many times I will get to attend a showing of “West Side Story”.

Thanks, Movieguy, for being the first to announce what we Ziegfeld lovers have long been waiting for.

Movieguy718 on January 19, 2006 at 10:35 pm

Ummm…guys…check out the Clearview Cinemas website :–) It’s better than what you could hope for!

Movieguy718 on January 19, 2006 at 10:18 pm

Hey Guys,
I was told that they were toying with the possibility of showing the Godfather movies in February.

William on January 19, 2006 at 1:23 pm

One of the reasons that theatre chains use platters in single screen theatres is they have cut the hours of the union projectionist and the other hours are handled by management. This fact has happened in many large single first run houses across the country. Another thing is the studios prefer to have the film run on a platter during major events like premieres. No matter how good an operator you are , you are only as good as your last change-over. I’ve had operators tell me that it would be easier to run it reel to reel. But the studios do not want to take the chance of a operator screwup. Yes, Grauman’s Chinese has a platter in the main house. But the operator also has to operate the six-plex next door too. The days of one operator per booth or theatre is long gone. Was the main premiere of “The Producers” at the Chinese or over at the Brand new AMC plex in Century City? When the Chinese Theatre had the twin houses next door that operator had to handle those theatres too. In Westwood, California all those single screen first run theatres are handled by two operators and management. Another reason is they only have to deal with one xenon lamp during a screening for those EK/Wetgate
showprints. I’ve run many premieres and major studio screenings over the years on the West Coast, so I’ve been right there in the booth for all of that progress.

Vito on January 19, 2006 at 10:25 am

Yes Bill, I think we are all salavating over Vincent’s idea