Warner Bros. is releasing Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk in 70MM at 125 locations, that’s 25 more than the 100 than Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight played at during its Christmas 2015 release.
WB’s 70MM theater count will be comprised of about 30 Imax venues that can handle the format, plus the old Hateful Eight projectors which WB bought from Weinstein Co. Remember those? Weinstein Co.’s The Hateful Eight 70MM renaissance reportedly cost $11M. WB is exclaiming that Dunkirk is the widest 70MM release in 25 years.
Following the release of Hateful Eight in December 2015 a number of exhibitors were in possession of 70MM projectors. Some of them were destroyed because they were a challenge to operate. Some theater chains didn’t even have an experienced staff on hand to operate the machines. We hear WB will be working with exhibition should anything go south in the operation of these projectors.
Former Weinstein Co. distribution chief, now Annapurna distribution czar, Erik Lomis was behind the rescue effort and expansion of 70MM for Hateful Eight; finding old projectors, making sure they were rebuilt, getting them installed; and in certain cases such as a LA screening for the Tarantino western, Lomis would actually head up to the projection room to fix a projector that broke down.
Prior to Hateful Eight, 70MM nearly went the way of the dinosaurs. As far as the old projectors go, it is not an easy format to screen in: Bulbs burn out, films become unthreaded from the platter and the motors on the machines can fizz out. But if anything goes wrong with the old machines, it’s bound to occur on opening night. That said, among true die-hard moviegoers, there’s a love for 70MM. Hateful Eight played in 70 70MM locations during its first week, then after the pic went wide, its per screen was twice that of Tarantino’s movie’s digital run. Hateful Eight‘s overseas play in 70MM wasn’t as wide as the U.S. with some houses in Australia and the U.K. playing the title in the format. Hateful Eight made $54.1M stateside, $155.8M worldwide at the B.O. Following the release of Hateful Eight, the 70MM machines that TWC provided to exhibitors were ultimately sold to WB.
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