It's still years away from now, but Star Wars Episode IX is looking to put an end to the new Star Wars trilogy with style. When J.J. Abrams brought back the franchise, he did so by filming in 35mm film -- a bold choice for a blockbuster. Rian Johnson followed suit and filmed Episode VIII in 35mm as well. 35mm isn't big enough for what Collin Trevorrow has planned for the finale, and it sounds like he's going to kick it up a notch.
Kodak has revealed (via The Playlist) that they have upgraded their processing facility in the UK and have added the capability of handling 65mm film. One of the projects listed to use the 65mm format is Collin Trevorrow's Star Wars Episode IX. No stranger to the format himself (some of Jurassic World was filmed in 65mm), Trevorrow will be capping off the highly anticipated trilogy with some old school flourish.
What's the difference between 35mm and 65mm film? The name refers to the actual width of the film cell, meaning the diameter of a 35mm film stock is roughly (you guessed it) 35mm. A movie shot on 65mm film is something akin to IMAX; it allows the filmmaker wider frame to capture image at a much higher quality. The format for an IMAX cell is about 70mm, so a 65mm film is best served on a screen format like IMAX. This means that Star Wars Episode IX is going to have great, eye-popping resolution in IMAX theaters.
We can debate the merits of film vs digital until both formats are replaced with images shot directly into your brain, but film has been making a comeback on the big screen as of late. Christopher Nolan shot parts of Interstellar on 65mm, and his upcoming World War II drama Dunkirk was filmed almost entirely in 65mm. It was also the format Paul Thomas Anderson used to shoot The Master, as well as Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight (which was a beautiful looking movie if you had the chance to see it played with the right projector).
There are plenty more movies lined up to use Kodak's new service. Included on the same list as Episode IX is the Kenneth Branagh-directed Murder on the Orient Express, as well as Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Other films using 65mm include segments of The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan and the musical Vox Lux.
A major blockbuster trilogy choosing to film entirely in this format is a very cool and bold choice. 3D is largely a gimmick -- with some exceptions -- but this format is actually worth your time, and it adds a certain incentive for cinephiles to take a trip to the theater for a legitimate film experience. Or just watch it on your phone.
We'll be able to see the awesome power of Star Wars Episode IX when it hits theaters on May 23, 2019.