Maybe you've heard that Interstellar is opening early to IMAX to encourage audiences to see Christopher Nolan's latest in the 70mm glory he intended. But do you actually know what screening a 70mm film print entails? If not, let this expert projectionist break it down in this detailed video.
AutoNation IMAX Theater Chief Projectionist Armando Mena tells us, "this is the true way that you can experience the IMAX experience," as he cuts together on a single 6-foot platter the 48 separate reels that make up Interstellar's 169-minute running time. Yahoo tells us that is more than 11 miles of footage, the length of 200 football fields. And all that film weighs more than 600 pounds. Meaning every IMAX screening of Interstellar is a very physical activity, involving a lot of crucial moving parts.
All this is part of the romance of film prints, a romance that is ending as studios turn their backs on film print releases, stock makers close, and movie theaters switch to digital. But this environment only adds the appeal of Interstellar, which will screen on 760 IMAX screens all over the world ahead of its wider theatrical release this Friday.
The caption on the video reads in part:
"Christopher Nolan shot Interstellar in 70mm film format, which offers the biggest, brightest, clearest images at ten times the resolution of 35 millimeter film shown on a new giant five-story-tall screen.
Nolan has long been a vocal supporter for preserving film stock as a medium for filmmaking. He and his long-time director of photography Wally Pfister both made this point firmly, not just with films like Batman Begins, The Prestige and Inception but also in the documentary Side By Side, which compared analog and digital filmmaking methods.
You can now watch Side by Side on Netflix. If you consider yourself a film buff, it's an absolute must-see.
Christopher Nolan's Interstellar isn't the only upcoming release making use of the increasingly rare 70mm film stock. Next year, Quentin Tarantino will make use of the grand old format to shoot his Western, The Hateful Eight. And according to the Weinstein company, this film will have the widest release a 70mm has seen in twenty years. Film stock might be on its last legs, but it's likely to go out in a blaze of glory.
Interstellar is now in select (read: IMAX) theaters.