70mm Ultra Panavision or The King is in the alltogether.


I have just been to Odeon Leicester Sq to see Hateful 8 in 70mm, and really wanted to share my thoughts. Having already seen it twice, once via a screener on my 3 meter ‘scope screen at home and once in screen one at my own cinema on DCP (The digital file we use instead of film these days), I absolutely wanted to see the only 70mm print of the film in the UK, having missed out on Interstellar.

Truth to tell I haven’t seen any actual film for quite some time, and with the current fetishisation of projecting knackered, wobbly old scratched prints reaching new proportions I thought it time I took another look for myself.

Given the amount of money exhibition has invested in switching to digital technology it’s very irritating when film makers like Christopher Nolan try to give the impression what we present is somehow inferior. To a large degree we were getting on fine, we all had film projectors that worked and broadly the customer didn’t care as long as they got to see the film.

The digital switch was partly driven by 3D and some pressure from the studios, but that argument is in the past now and not worth resurrecting, we’re all digital. Film, like Elvis, is dead, live with it.

I went in with an open mind, I swear. I wanted to wowed, I wanted to be disabused of the notion that actually DCP is better. It doesn’t wobble, it doesn’t scratch and it stays in focus.

I wanted it to be an experience like seeing the restored Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm at the Odeon Marble Arch in 1988 or the brand new 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Curzon Mayfair in 2001.

But it wasn’t.

Back in 1988 and 2001 no one had seen digital 2K or 4K projection, of course a film captured on 65mm and projected on 70mm stock was going to be miles better than our vanilla old 35mm.

Razor sharp, clean steady images are now the norm, would the gap between 70mm and 35mm be the same in a straight fight between 70mm and DCP?


It was a perfectly acceptable image, it moved around a bit and the OLS need to change their lamp as the light was not at all steady. It may have been shutter timing, but I don’t think so. But better than a DCP? Absolutely not.

Also, because QT insisted on using Ultra Panavision, an extra wide process that was rarely used even in the heyday of film, the OLS have simply dropped the top masking. They may have pushed the sides out a bit, but it looks less impressive than normal 2.35 as a result.

If QT really did want to emulate his hero Leone, he would have shot on 2 perf 35mm Techniscope, a cheap way of getting CinemaScope.

All this talk of film is utterly Emperor’s New clothes stuff and total nonsense.  Hateful Eight looks as good, I might argue better, because it appears subjectively larger, in my own theatre.

It’s most definitely a film you should see, and most definitely a film you should see in the cinema, but don’t let them make you believe you are missing out if you don’t see it on film, and definitively not worth all the fuss and unpleasantness QT’s decision has caused some UK exhibitors and distributors.

One thought on “70mm Ultra Panavision or The King is in the alltogether.

  1. Good to read that there is another projectionist sceptic out there. I completely agree with your stance of film versus DCP, especially when it comes to audience experience. Why are those scratches and jumps so over romanticised? Very shocked to read though that you were not impressed with the 70mm Ultra Panavision presentation. The Eye in Amsterdam purchased a the lens especially for this screening; similarly to the UK situation, they had sole rights in the whole of the Benelux! Would one really travel from Luxembourg to Amsterdam to see a film, even a QT? The film itself a really well-crafted piece in every way, but if I may criticise a little then I’d say that I hope QT doesn’t become too formulaic – a pattern (however enjoyable) has become very noticeable.

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