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Studios pursue bigger screens for their movies

Jackson Bell

Summer blockbuster movies are literally getting bigger and bigger

with the evolution of high-definition technology.

Movies shot on 35mm film -- standard format used at commercial

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theaters -- are beginning to be “repurposed,” or transferred to 70mm

prints, a large-format film used for screenings at

specially-configured theaters such as IMAX.

An example of the growing trend is the large-format version of

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Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix Reloaded.” It is scheduled to be released

May 29, two weeks after its 35mm release."This represents a beginning

of a paradigm shift for the industry,” said Robert Dennis, the

president of the Large Format Cinema Assn. and the director of sales

and marketing for Burbank-based CFI Laboratories.

“The Matrix Revolutions,” the third installment of the series, is

slated for a November opening and will utilize another budding

phenomenon in the large-format film industry called “day and date,”

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meaning 35mm and 70mm are printed and released simultaneously.

The turning point that sparked major movie studio’s interest came

in 1999 after Disney and IMAX succeeded with attracting audiences to

“Fantasia 2000.” And since last year, Dennis said, a growing number

of Hollywood producers have inquired about the industry.

Repeated attempts to reach Warner Bros. officials for comment were

unsuccessful. Disney officials declined to comment for this story.

According to Large Format Examiner, a trade publication, about 14

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movies are scheduled for release on large-format screens this year,

down from 23 in 2002. That figure, the publication reported, is

expected to increase because large-format production costs that range

from $3 million to $5 million should drop as technological

advancements of new digital and photochemical tools rise.

To some professionals in the industry, that end result will be

spectacular.

“For me, it’s like driving your car and having the speakers play

your favorite music,” said Pam Gordon, president of Burbank- based

RPG Productions, a post-production company.

“It feels like you are there with the sound and large image, and

why wouldn’t [an audience member] want to [feel like they are part

of] something like ‘The Matrix’?”


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