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TCL's Chinese Theatre IMAX Getting 70mm Projector for 'Interstellar'

by
September 25, 2014
Source: SlashFilm

TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX

One of the best big screens in the entire world is the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX located in Hollywood, California. Formerly known as the world famous Chinese Theatre, this iconic movie palace was renovated and upgraded last year after the Chinese company TCL bought the cinema. It sounds like this is pretty much the perfect place to see Christopher Nolan's Interstellar on IMAX in November, and good news - they're going all out. Our friends at SlashFilm report that the IMAX screen will be outfitted with a 15-perf 70mm film projection system just so that Nolan's sci-fi masterpiece can be experienced the right way. Oh yes.

IMAX is going out of their way to make it known that the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX will be retrofitted with a 70mm film projector. The Universal City IMAX also has a film projector, but doesn't have the same legacy.

"Normally, the theater uses an IMAX xenon dual digital projection system, but Nolan wants Interstellar projected on IMAX film wherever possible. IMAX officials have confirmed they’re doing this specifically for this film, in this important location."

For those hoping that this means film is still alive and well, this is just a one time special occasion (for Mr. Nolan, of course, who has always been a big supporter of IMAX and film). The TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX, which is now IMAX's flagship cinema in Los Angeles, will be one of the first to be upgraded to IMAX's laser projection sometime next year (in 2015). No matter the case at least movie fans in Los Angeles will be able to experience this extraordinary space exploration spectacle with some of the best projection at one of the finest theaters in the world. Prepare to be blown away. Nolan's Interstellar, with scenes filmed in IMAX, arrives in theaters everywhere on November 7th in just over a month. We'll see everyone at the cinema.

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  • Now the only thing is someone needs to get of the Tourists and we can talk. I think the last time i went to the Chinese must a been 10 yrs ago maybe. I will never forget watching the Matrix there in '99 tho. That was a great movie night!
    • Hollywood
      Once you're inside it's really nice. Old movie props and costumes... and hundreds of empty seats. You could usually see a whole movie and not even notice another person, much less tourists.
      • YEah but man, the entire area is infested by fanny pack loving people. But surely 70mm IMAX would be better here then the even worse Universal Studio cinemas. 😉
  • Universal is a better place to see Interstellar due to the classic IMAX aspect ratio, which really is the main intended way of seeing it. Due to the "digital IMAX" 1.89:1 AR you won't get the same immerisve effect at the Chinese compared to Universal and the rest of the classic 70mm IMAXes.
    • Hollywood
      Square aspect ratio does not equal "immersive." Human vision is wider than it is tall. That's why we got Cinerama, Todd-AO, CinemaScope, etc.
      • You're forgetting that in IMAXes like Citywalk, you'd get the same perceived panoramic width as the Chinese and generally any digital IMAXes, but the advantage to these is the perceived HEIGHT.
        • Hollywood
          Not forgetting the height. The ChiMax is an infinitely better venue. And since the definition of panoramic is equated to Width, the exaggerated height at CityWalk lacks the fundamental elements of panorama: WIDTH.
          • Hollywood
            This obsession with height reminds me of man's obsession with size, which may be why Imax refuses to use proper professional masking on its screens while filmmakers almost universally use wide formats... they feel the need to show how big the screen is even if they aren't using it all. Unmasked screens look unprofessional... like a big letterboxed TV.
          • For films not filmed in IMAX? Sure go for the ChiMax but not for Interstellar, or any film partially shot with IMAX cameras at 1.44:1. That's the big difference. A huge part of Interstellar was shot in IMAX so when the footage fills the entire screen at theatres like Citywalk or Rave it's fantastic.
          • Hollywood
            Rave has dumped Imax and the Chinese is now Imax's flagship venue. The AR at the ChiMax and even the little plexy digiMax rooms is Imax's new standard, a step in the right direction toward the actual wider range of human vision. Imax's old square ratio was not ideal, and CityWalk's uncomfortable seats and limited sightlines are not ideal either. Try sitting in the first few rows at CityWalk, the hard seats are bolt upright facing straight to the bottom of the screen, which is uncomfortably close. Give me any of the comfy lean-back seats, classic theatrical ambience and better sightlines at the Chinese any day.
          • To each individual venue their own but the intended vision from Nolan to see the film is in 70mm in the square aspect ratio IMAX are seemingly trying to do away with. Specifics of venues aside, a 70mm venue at 1.44:1 is more ideal for Interstellar than 70mm at 1.89:1.
          • Hollywood
            I'm sure he shot the film knowing most venues would be using the pervasively common wide aspect ratios rather than the anomaly of old Imax's old TV ratio, so it seems rather extreme to suggest the majority of the venues he ultimately composed the film for are wrong. And good luck if you're stuck in one of the many CityWalk seats that point straight ahead to the (usually blank) bottom of the screen. I'll happily give up the maybe 8-10 total feet of extraneous headroom/footroom in the frame at CityWalk for the superior theatrical experience and comfort at the ChiMax.
  • DAVIDPD
    Doesn't the Chinese Theatre have a smallish screen? 70mm is really going to pop.
    • Hollywood
      about 96x46'.
  • Hollywood
    TCL does not own the Chinese Theatres, and the Grauman's imax auditorium of the TCL Chinese Theatres is a much more satisfying venue overall than the awful Universal CityWalk Imax, with its narrow footprint and uncomfortable sightlines in the lower third of the seats. Those seats at CityWalk are bolt upright and lack the comfortable leanback of the new ChiMax seats.
    • Mike
      Yeah the CityWalk IMAX's bottom 5-7 rows suck, but good thing you can just go online and reserve your seat so you don't have to deal with sitting there. And the screen may be narrower, but that's the aspect ratio that IMAX looks best at. Something like 1.43:1? I like the "squarish" shape of that screen.
    • Jon_Irenicus
      the parking prices are insane as well. Not sure what it costs to park near the chinese theater, but citywalk wants 10 dollars to park (15 without validation). That's on top of the movie cost.
  • DavideCoppola
    "sci-fi masterpiece"? You've already seen it?
    • Im Mikey T
      He drank the hype juice before watching the movie.
      • DavideCoppola
        It's an honest question, maybe he got an advanced screening or saw it at a festival.
      • Tasty stuff.
    • No not yet. :/ But others who have are calling it a masterpiece.
  • Im Mikey T
    I live in Del Mar, CA. Basically San Diego. Anyone know which theater is the closest REAL IMAX theater near to where I live? I am assuming its outside of SD.
  • Hollywood
    So he clearly composed for the standard widescreen ratio that the vast majority of cinema patrons will see. It's called "protecting" - ensuring the most likely end format is designated as the "safe area" so nothing crucial is outside it. So the rest is just additional headroom and footroom that won't be missed. Nolan is personally supervising the ChiMax setup as it is the film's premiere venue, where he will debut the film to the industry, media, cast, etc. However it looks and sounds there, will be to his exact "intended" specs, so to suggest much less comfortable and problematic CityWalk as the ideal venue for the film is misguided.
    • If you read the first paragraph of that page - it says that the 70mm IMAX presentation with the picture switching "between the 2.40:1 and 1.43:1 aspect ratios at key dramatic moments in the film" is combined with the IMAX audio for "the most immersive presentation of the film". So clearly the old square IS the "most immersive" presentation at least. Yes the Chinese is playing in 70mm. Will it have the "old square"? No. Because the conversation was conceived as a digital IMAX with its wide aspect ratio. The only reason why Nolan's using the ChiMax to present it is because there isn't, as you say, a better IMAX premiere venue than that in LA. The Citywalk is closer to "the most immersive presentation" but it's not comfortable enough to host the premiere. The legacy of the Chinese Theater, the fact that they'll show it in 15/70mm (albeit akin to a digital IMAX presentation) and the fact that despite its aspect ratio shortcomings IMAX is heralding it as their flagship LA venue has probably outweighed the issues and that's why Nolan chose it to be the premiere venue. Just because it's the premiere venue, doesn't mean it's the *intended venue*. I guess maybe he couldn't have premiered it at the Lincoln Square in NY (which is being used for cast/crew screenings at the moment) instead because of the pressure to host it in LA.
      • Hollywood
        You assume a great deal here. "Immersive" is a matter of opinion. You don't know what format the Chinese will show.
        • Freakyguy666
          The original IMAX 1.43 screens are just as wide--if not WIDER--than the Chinese. They are simply MUCH TALLER. You are implying that one would lose the width by going to a classic IMAX, when in fact you GAIN width AND HEIGHT. As for the term "immersive" being subjective, it is....but the fact is that the opinion was stated by Chris Nolan himself! Therefore, it is CLEAR, that IN THE FILMMAKER'S OWN OPINION, 1.43 70mm IMAX IS THE BEST WAY TO SEE THIS FILM! Period!
  • Hollywood
    There's nothing that says the old square is intended, only that it's been shot in two formats and adapted to several. He's obviously composed the film to protect for a safe action area that accommodates the most common AR the majority of moviegoers will see. The rest will see expanded headroom and footroom that won't be missed elsewhere because the crucial action would be protected to 2.40. The Chinese Imax is the chosen premiere venue where Nolan will debut the film for industry, media, cast, etc and he's personally supervising the setup to his exact specs, so however it looks will be the way he wants it to look. Tickets are on sale now, by the way, for 11/4 onward, nearly round the clock for the first days, so if anyone wants to see the film where Nolan himself presented it to AFI, and his cast and crew... see you at the ChiMax.
  • jeff
    Does anyone know what row is the best to sit in for the Chinese Theater?

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