The Return of 70MM | Features
Movie Reviews

The Return of 70MM | Features

Mark E. Anastasio, director of special programming at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Mass., says the theater’s recent, 70mm run of “Napoleon” did quite well. “I don’t think any showings were sold out, but we certainly had healthy-sized audiences for the primetime shows,” Anastasio said in an email. “The demographics definitely skewed a bit older and male. People were talking about the 70mm difference! We have a display of 70mm and 35mm frames set up in our box office window to show folks the size difference. And I feel like a lot of the celluloid fans know to come here for these special engagements.”

Nolan and Tarantino aren’t the only film-loving auteurs striking up 70mm prints of their pictures. Last year, Damien Chazelle and Jordan Peele were going around showing their respective, old-Hollywood tributes—“Babylon” and “Nope”—in 70mm. In previous years, Steven Spielberg (“Ready Player One”), Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”), Todd Phillips (“Joker”), and Patty Jenkins (“Wonder Woman”) have also done 70mm blow/glow-ups.

If you wanna know when this 70mm resurgence truly began, we have to go back over a decade ago. Paul Thomas Anderson shot his 2012 film “The Master” in 65mm film stock, which led to the film having 70mm showings during its run. This was mostly thanks to former distribution boss Erik Lomis, who passed away earlier this year. When Lomis was head of distribution at The Weinstein Company (which released “Master”), Anderson convinced him releasing it in 70mm was the way to go. “He explained how the projectors worked, I was humbled,” Anderson said during an event that honored Lomis, “He mapped out how he would release the 70mm (edition of ‘The Master’).” Lomis also told him that if theaters didn’t want to play it, he “was going to put projectors in them.”

Anderson has not only struck 70mm prints of his post-Master films; he has also gone back to get a 70mm print of his breakthrough 1997 film “Boogie Nights,” which played at several repertory theaters this year. Grant Moninger, artistic director of LA-based rep-theater collective American Cinematheque, has programmed many 70mm films. (“Boogie” did five packed nights at the Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre last February.) He’s glad Anderson got the ball rolling on reviving 70mm. “It had been pretty much neglected since Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Hamlet’ or Spike Lee’s ‘Malcolm X,’” he says. “Some of those were the last gasp of 70. And, so, when Lomis and PTA did that, I think it opened up a world where people started to see it again.”

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