Smithsonian receives $5 million grant from Warner Brothers

posted by CSWalczak on September 24, 2010 at 7:50 am

WASHINGTON, DC – A five million dollar grant from Warner Brothers will enable the Smithsonian Institution to convert its nearly fifty-year-old Carmichael Auditorium into a theater which will present the history of American film. It will be equipped for both 35mm and digital projection.

The full story is in the Washington Post.

Comments (10)

moviebuff82 on September 24, 2010 at 11:26 am

This is good news. I haven’t been to the Smithsonian in years. I only have been to the Air and Space Museum for its IMAX theater and space exhibits. Too bad it won’t show 70mm film.

CSWalczak on September 24, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Indeed; While I thinks it is great that the Smithsonian will be getting a new facility for showing the history of American film, I wish the concept were enlarged so that the facility could present both the history of American film AND the history of the exhibition of the American film, something akin to the Bradford, England National Media Museum’s Pictureville Theater, which can present just about any film format except IMAX: (Cinerama, any 70mm format (Todd-AO, Super Panavision 70, etc.), 1950s era 3D, digital, and digital 3D in addition to standard 35mm and 35mm anamorphic prints. One would hope it would have elegant curtains and top-notch sound system, that can show off monophonic, digital, and multi-track magnetic soundtracks.

chiropracticmarketing on September 24, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Warner Brothers is a producer of film and television entertainment but I am just wondering how a big company like them could influence and affect the content of the American sitcom “Friends”. Thanks.

chiropractic marketing

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on September 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm

While I agree with CWalczak’s comments re the Pictureville Museum in Bradford, they do indeed have a fully equipped IMAX auditorium. It’s located across the street from the theatre in the Bradford Film Television and Photography museum which the Pictureville is part of. I’ve been there and if anyone interested in the history of the motion picture plans a trip to England anytime soon, they should include, at the very minimum, a 2 day visit to the museum. It’s definitely worth the trip.

CSWalczak on September 25, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I had originally typed that the Pictureville Theater could show any format, and then I realized that that would imply IMAX as well. Thanks, Jon for pointing out that there is an IMAX very near by.

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on September 25, 2010 at 1:20 pm

You’re very welcome CW. Here in Toronto we now have the new Bell Lightbox facility which is part of the annual Toronto Film Festival. It features auditoriums which are able to screen every format from 16mm, 35mm, 70mm and digital (currently 2K but upgradeable to 4K). Sounds great, but hate to complain, the screen for 70mm should be bigger to accommodate the format correctly. Mike Todd wouldn’t be amused seeing that he spent all that effort developing a 70mm projection format to rival the more complex giant screen Cinerama system. 70mm projected onto a standard size flat screen looks like nothing more than a really sharp CinemaScope presentation. This for me, as a long time resident of Toronto is a real disappointment: so close to perfection – but not quite there. I truly hope the Smithsonian upgrade can learn from the Toronto experience and are able to go the distance.

CSWalczak on September 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Thanks also for the information about 70mm projection at the Lightbox. I m hoping that someday soon I can go there. It is unfortunate that its designers did not consider the appropriate screen size. As I said in my remarks about the Smithsonian above, I think if one is truly serious about building a facility to show film history, one should be concerned about not only what is shown but also how it is shown. If young people today, who only have seen primarily films in megaplex theaters (or even in IMAX, real or faux), they really cannot fully the history of moviegoing if all they can be shown are the films themselves.

One of m favorite memories is of a Showing of “How The West Was Won” during the Cinerama revival at Dayton’s Neon movies. In the row in front of me was a little boy who couldn’t have been more than seven or eight, who was squirming around before the movie started and frankly seemed a little bored. But when those curtains opened and the movie began, that boy sat up on the edge of his seat and hardly moved during the film, it was that riveting for him. I would like to think there would always be a few places where an interested young person could see “Lawrence of Arabia” or “Around the World in Eighty Days” or even one of the last of the clunkier 70mm Cinerama features like “Ice Station Zebra” the way many of us first got to see them.

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on September 26, 2010 at 9:07 am

CW: couldn’t have said it better myself.

JodarMovieFan on September 26, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Gotta love living near DC and having the Smithsonian and all its historical artifacts available to be seen in the various museums for FREE. 70mm would be nice, maybe they could upgrade in the future?

Giles on October 2, 2010 at 8:28 pm

really I find that shocking – unless they are acoustically fixing it, the old auditorium’s acoustics were quite frankly terrible.

Except for the IMAX screens, most all of the auditoriums in the varying Smithsonian musuems are terribly lacklustre – the new one in National History is good, since it features digital projection but it’s on the small side.

Really the best place to see movies on the Mall is at the National Gallery of Art (which isn’t part of the Smithsonian – even though ‘Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian’ wants you to believe so) – the seats are raked and comfortable, the screen is large, and projection ranges from 16mm, 35mm, HiDef – no 70mm unfortunately.

I’ve not been to the Museuem of the Native Americans – but a friend of mine said he wasn’t impressed with that auditorium either – from what I recall they can’t even project 35mm.

Freer’s auditorium is fine since they show alot of great Asian, contemporary and classic, but you really have to sit up close to able to read the subtitles.

Hirshorn is a joke, it’s just a blank white wall, and the flat floor seating is hit or miss depending on ‘who’ sits in front of you. When they showewd Peter Greenaway’s Tulse Luper film – the first one and the companion film, he was quite frankly appalled by the lack of an actual screen and vocally expressed to everyone attending at the film’s post Q&A – I’m sure the film programmer was royally embarrassed.

Maybe with the construction of the new African American museum, maybe an architect can do a multi function auditorium right – like the one at National Geographic – they can do lectures, speakers, performances, concerts and film (complete with three channel behind the screen sound and 35mm/Sony 4K LCoS digital projection) and comfortable seats/better sightlines to the stage.

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