Why You Should See ‘Oppenheimer’ in IMAX 70-Millimeter

On Friday morning, Vasili Birlidis and three friends plan to pick up a rental car in Gainesville, Fla., and make the 10-hour round trip to see the film on thousands of screens across the country, including their own. .

But this is more than just a movie. More importantly, they aren’t traveling just for screens.

this is “Oppenheimer” In a new biopic about the man who spearheaded the development of the atomic bomb during World War II, 27-year-old Bill Liddis said he’d be in a suburb of Atlanta on opening day because it’s the closest place the film would ever be shown in IMAX. claim to see it at the Mall of Georgia. 70 mm.

Many moviegoers consider this format to be the golden rule, and ‘Oppenheimer’ writer and director Christopher Nolan made it so that the film could be seen. However, the film is available in his IMAX 70mm on only 30 screens worldwide, of which in the US he is on 19 screens. None of these sites are in Gainesville. Or Chicago, where Eiso Tan, 30, lives. He’s driving to Indianapolis to see it. Or Rome, where 34-year-old Federico Larosa lives. he is flying to london

If “Oppenheimer” has an IMAX theater option, chances are it’s digital projection, not 70mm film. “Oppenheimer” can be seen on over 700 screens worldwide, and the format has many recommendations: high definition, excellent sound. Like IMAX 70mm, digital IMAX has a different aspect ratio than standard theater, resulting in a higher image. Imagine ET and Elliot biking past the moon. You can also see the night sky from the top of the moon to the ground.

Comparing IMAX 70mm to IMAX digital, let alone standard digital, is like comparing lightning to lightning bugs, especially for film lovers, movies shot and projected on physical photochemicals.

“It matters how much of the image is lost when you see it on another screen,” said former theater manager Bill Lidice. “Being able to see the entire film exactly as the director intended,” he added. on filmIn a theater that is on the brink of extinction, to be shown in one of the 30 theaters on the planet is pretty special. ”

In an interview, Nolan admitted that the majority of moviegoers wouldn’t watch “Oppenheimer” the way he thought it best. “I’m a first- or second-generation filmmaker, and it was clear to them that the vast majority of people would see their work on TV after the fact,” he said. said. He added that the first time he saw one of his favorites, his 1982 film Blade Runner, was on a bootleg VHS tape of him.

But Nolan is evangelical about the format, bringing to our interview two types of film stock and a flipbook made by the IMAX company to illustrate the superior visual detail of film over digital. . He said that IMAX’s 70mm negatives are about ten times the size of 35mm film, the theatrical standard that digital projection has sought to replace for decades, resulting in sharper, clearer images. explained that a good image can be obtained. He can quickly list some IMAX 70mm destinations. (The AMC Metreon in San Francisco is a “fantastic big screen.”) He knows one of about 100 theaters in Brooklyn is showing “Oppenheimer” on regular 70mm film. It’s a “very beautiful” print, he said.

Despite relatively few theaters showing the cutting-edge format, the effort to make it available has paid off for him, as well as for premium rates (an evening ticket to see 2015’s “Oppenheimer”). It’s also worth it, he argued, for audiences who can expect to pay He charges close to $30 for his IMAX 70mm film in Manhattan). “It’s more like having a good dinner than going to Jimmy John’s,” says executive director Julian Antos. Chicago Film Instituteand Midwestern sandwich chains.

“The sheer scale and quality of this event affects the excitement of the film in all other media, even when someone is watching it on their phone,” Nolan said. “They have different expectations of what a film distributed in such a way would be like. So it’s always been important beyond the number of screens.”

IMAX now represents the entire experience. IMAX certifies theaters with stadium-like seating, viewing angles, and darkness. The film itself is projected onto a giant screen (the one at his AMC Lincoln Square in Manhattan is 97 feet by 76 feet) and dominates the view of its surroundings.

Nolan’s work is the only feature film these days to use an IMAX film camera and be shown using an IMAX projector. (Several recent films that were shot partially on IMAX cameras, including last year’s Nope, didn’t show in IMAX 70mm.) With Oppenheimer, theaters remain all over the world. It has exhausted most of the 48 operating IMAX 70mm projectors currently in operation. . These gigantic machines can drag a copy of “Oppenheimer” (his 53 reels containing footage of him running 11 miles at a total weight of 600 pounds) across a 15,000-watt lamp. The theater employs 60 specially trained projectionists, some of whom are retired.

“Chris has a special affinity for IMAX films and is almost a unicorn in that regard,” said IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond. “Without Chris, there certainly wouldn’t be as many people as there are today.”

Following 2005’s action film Batman Begins, which was digitally remastered in IMAX, Nolan’s sequel The Dark Knight (2008) was the first Hollywood feature film to be partially shot on IMAX cameras. I was. He used them for the opening set-play, a daring bank robbery masterminded by Heath Ledger’s Joker, showing the reels to studio executives. “They were really excited,” said Nolan. “Once you’ve seen it, you’ll understand it to the bone.”

Since then, almost every Nolan film has used an IMAX camera. “Dunkirk” (2017) IMAX is about two-thirds, and like his work, 2020 drama “Tenet” And this time “Oppenheimer”, the one that is not IMAX was taken with the conventional 70 mm. If you’re watching a Nolan movie in IMAX, you might notice how the image toggles between an image that fills the entire screen and a letterbox that fills just the center.

Unlike many Nolan films, “Oppenheimer” is dominated by tense dialogue rather than action spectacle. Director Nolan and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema found IMAX to be “a great format for faces” and a great format for the small boardroom where many of Oppenheimer’s scenes take place. Told. “The screen goes off,” said Nolan. “That means you’re in intimate space with your subject.”

Nolan believes that his passion for how movies are made and presented is driven by the film’s impact on the viewer’s ultimate experience, even if the average moviegoer doesn’t consciously perceive the difference. claimed to be justified.

“I can’t help but believe that if it wasn’t for the emotional impact, I wouldn’t mind it so much,” Nolan said. “There’s a tactic that studio executives like to use,” he added, “I mean, isn’t everything, after all, a story? We will be distributing radio plays.” After all, stories aren’t everything. It’s moving imagery, it’s cinematic storytelling, and the best movies ever made can only be cinema. ”

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