The distributor’s 70MM theater count will be comprised of about 30 Imax venues that can handle the format, plus the old Hateful Eight projectors which Warner Bros bought from The Weinstein Company. Remember those? TWC shelled out $11M for The Hateful Eight 70MM renaissance.
WB is saying that Dunkirk is the widest 70MM release in 25 years. The film opens July 21.
Following the release of Hateful Eight, several exhibitors were in possession of 70MM projectors. Some 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 operating the 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, and getting them installed. In certain cases, such as a Los Angeles screening for the Tarantino Western, Lomis would actually head up to the projection room himself to fix a projector that had broken down.
Prior to Hateful Eight, 70MM nearly went the way of the dinosaur. As far as the old projectors go, it is not an easy format to screen in: Bulbs burn out, prints become unthreaded from the platter, and motors can fizz out. And if anything goes wrong with the old machines, it’s bound to happen on opening night.
That said, there’s a love for 70MM among die-hard moviegoers. Hateful Eight played in 70 70MM locations during its first week; after the pic went wide, its per-screen was twice that of the 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 UK playing the title in the format. Hateful Eight made $54.1 million stateside and $155.8M worldwide at the box office.
Nolan convinced Paramount and Warner Bros to screen his 2014 sci-fi pic Interstellar in 50 70MM-enabled Imax venues. Paul Thomas Anderson lobbied TWC to show off his 2012 pic The Master, which he shot in 65MM, in 14 70MM locations. Nolan planned on screening Dunkirk in 70MM given the fact he shot it on 65MM Kodak stock.
Tracking last week indicated Dunkirk could make $35 million in its opening weekend, versus the $20M currently forecast for Luc Besson’s $180M space opera Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets. Tickets for Dunkirk went on sale this morning on Fandango.