A detailed look into the History of
Event Motion Pictures.
Event motion pictures have been with us
since the invention of the medium. Every so many years a milestone in movie
technology would occur and going to the cinema reached a new plateau. When the
first silent films were shown on a sheet in storefronts, it was an event. The
"Jazz Singer" and its synchronized sound sequences made it the movie to see as
well as to hear, it was an event. When Technicolor movies were first introduced,
the public was excited to see natural color on the screen, it was an event. All of
these techniques advanced the medium considerably, but the overall presentation
was restrictive. The projected image was shown on a small screen and the mono
sound was low in fidelity. In other words, "you looked straight ahead and heard
what was straight ahead" as described by Lowell Thomas in "This Is Cinerama."
It was not until Cinerama, Todd-AO, VistaVision and other large format film
processes did the public get something totally revolutionary, not only to watch
a movie, but also to experience it!
During the golden age of the Wide Screen, something very special
was happening: the era of the special engagement "Road Show" theater. These
event theaters had huge screens, 60-to-80 feet wide with big, bright, sharp
images. Large format projectors ran 70mm film, accompanied with six-track
surround sound. Reserved performances and reserved theater seating was the
policy for these special presentations. Box office prices for these movies were
$3.50, more than $35.00 in todays dollars, verses .35 cents for the conventional
35mm film. A person or group had to travel great distances, sometimes as much as
hundreds of miles to see these special motion pictures. Why was the public
willing to pay considerably more for a ticket, along with having to travel great
distances to see just a movie? Because it was an event. No matter what the content
was, whether the subject was an epic, a musical, or an exotic travel spectacular,
the presentations were breathtaking. From both a visual and aural standpoint,
these motion pictures were a total experience.
The audience was part of the movie.
Why was this new form of motion picture entertainment so successful?
It was about giving the public more than they could get from competing leisure
time activities, such as television. Many of the films produced during this
period are today considered classics, and many of then won Academy Awards
including Best Picture. "Around The World In Eighty Days," "Ben-Hur", "How
The West Was Won," "2001, A Space Odyssey," "Lawrence Of Arabia," "West Side
Story," and "The Sound Of Music," just to name a few. In many cases these films
ran for more than two years at these Event Road Show theaters before they were
released in 35mm to the local theaters. For more than two decades, this form of
motion picture entertainment flourished until a down turn occurred.
So what was the downturn of this form of motion picture entertainment?
For one thing, studios no longer owned the theaters and they now had different
business agendas. The studios were hitting hard times and were cutting back on
big films, especially 70mm productions. To help keep product flowing into the
Road Show, the studios resorted to providing them with medium budget non-event
productions shot in 35mm and blown-up to 70mm. The public was not fooled and
stayed away in droves, the era of the big screen Road Show Event movie ended.
As the years progressed, large downtown theaters that once were event movie
palaces were replaced by the suburban multiplex. The concept was to have these theaters closer
to where people lived and to have several
films playing in one location. This provided patrons with a greater selection of feature films. For the theater circuit, it
meant more revenue. Many of these new multiplexes had auditoriums holding as few
as one hundred patrons, with the largest often holding a few hundred. The movie going experience was now relegated to the
During the early 70s, a new non-theatrical 70mm format was born in Canada
and it was called IMAX. It had a square frame and was three times as big as
theatrical 70mm frame. IMAX was born out of a need to provide an immersive
film experience for world fairs, museums and planetariums. The screens were
tall, about seven stories high and one hundred feet wide.
The auditoriums were very large and had stadium seating so that the tall screen could be
The process required the use of a unique proprietary
projector, as well as a special camera in production. The IMAX technology
was leased to the institution, along with taking a percentage of the house
and a fee for maintenance. The movies produced were usually about nature
and science. The films ran for around forty minutes, about as long as a
person could tolerate the imposing visual information. Over the years,
more than a hundred of these special venue theaters were populated all
over the world. Going to an IMAX Theater was event. IMAX slowly over time
became a household brand name. The public loved what they saw and came
back to again and again.
Fast Forward to Today!
The event theatrical motion picture is a studio
marketing strategy, not an experience. The films are based mainly on
action-oriented subject matter, heavily dependent on star appeal,
computer-assisted special effects and budgets close to $200-million
or even more. The exhibitors, in an attempt to stay competitive with
other forms of leisure time activities, created the megaplex, with some
theaters having as many as thirty screens. Seating in many of the
auditoriums hold almost a thousand patrons and have stadium seating.
The screens are as wide as seventy feet and accompanied with multi- track
digital sound. The only problem is that they are showing 35mm format
prints that result in poor picture fidelity, soft focus, dim images
and unacceptable "jump and weave." Some major circuits realized that
they had to have high impact exhibition, and possibly other types of
entertainment to compete with burgeoning high definition, wide screen
home theaters. Their answer: IMAX. Currently there are more than
forty-five IMAX venues in the modern theatrical market place and they
are growing. Even though expensive buildings must be erected for IMAX
and seating is usually limited to a little over four hundred, theater
circuits are still entering into costly leases with IMAX. After much
exploration, Hollywood studios do not believe that IMAX 15-perforation
large format feature length films can be produced from a creative and
practical standpoint. In addition, the IMAX format does not visually
translate well to 35mm for wide release theatrical exhibition.
Attempting to counter this major fault, IMAX developed DMR, a
repurposing technology method for converting regular 35mm features
to IMAX. Unfortunately, a significant number of these films must be
"panned and scanned" because they were shot in wide screen and do NOT
adequately fill the IMAX square screen. And finally, significant issues
with IMAX are costly 15-perforation prints and the huge cost of two
print 3-D IMAX. There must be another alternative!
The time has arrived. Super Dimension-70 a revolutionary new motion
picture system that is so remarkable it makes going to the movies an
event once again. Never before has todays film going public experienced
a theatrical film presentation like Super Dimension-70. Images so full
of depth and clarity, they are startling. The screen is wall-to-wall,
floor-to-ceiling and curved. Stadium sloped seating in these Super
Cinemas range between 600 and 1000 seats. When Super Dimension-70
is projected on the screen, the screen seems to disappear. Digital
8- channel sound is so dynamic and realistic that when combined with
the large format picture, the audience believes that they are "in the
movie." Productions produced and exhibited in Super Dimension-70 will
be identified by the public as the ultimate movie going experience, the
must see movie event.
Redefining the Movie Going Experience.
For more than two years, Super Vista Corp., in collaboration with
cinema equipment designers, digital engineers and optical experts have
worked together to bring Super Dimension-70 to reality. With more than
6-million pixels per frame (as compared to 35mms four or digital
cinemas two), the film images are unequal. With SDS-70, 65mm large
format cameras are used to photograph a feature film at 48 frames-per-second.
The cameras are only slightly larger than typical 35mm, and the film image
area and resolution is more than four times that of conventional 35mm.
The proprietary process can be "down converted" to conventional 35mm or
digital cinema technology, thus providing maximum distribution in all markets.
In addition to originally produced SDS-70 large format productions,
the company has developed DNX digital repurposing technology. The patent
pending DNX process reformats 35mm (24 frame-per-second) and 24p
digital-to-full frame 70mm, 48 frame, SDS-70. The "DI" transform
actually creates a true "in-between" frame to render smoother motion,
reduced motion blur and grain for the large 50-80 foot SDS-70 Super
Cinema screen. Productions with major action sequences especially
benefit from the DNX process, whereby the images often take on a
dimension of depth. Even motion pictures from the early days of
CinemaScope can be successfully transformed to images of brilliance
and clarity, providing potentially new theatrical distribution opportunities
for Hollywood studios with classic film vaults. With the combination of
new SDS-70 feature productions and restored classic films, a continuous
flow of quality product is assured for the event SDS-70 Super Cinema theater.
In preview screenings to film industry executives and theater owners
in Hollywood, the response has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. The SDS-70
projection system and screen fits into existing commercial theaters. No special
buildings have to be erected. And SDS-70 theaters benefit from having
seating between 600 and 1000, which results in far greater audience turn
over, and bigger box office grosses per screen.
The SDS-70 Impact projector double shutters each frame, resulting
in the absence of projection flicker. The film images are "pin registered,"
which means there is no jump or weave. The design of the protector does
not allow any part of the image area of the film to come in contact with
the projector; hence there are no scratches or dirt artifacts. SDS-70
large format 70mm film prints are one third less expensive than IMAX,
which is significant to film distributors. Because the image is so clear
and sharp, all seats in the theater, including front rows seats, are
viable for viewing. As commented after a screening of Super Dimension-70
by the president of a major U.S. theater circuit, he said, "The picture
is brighter, sharper and clearer than IMAX. And best of all it fits into
our theaters. It is an impressive achievement."
SDS-70 Super Cinema Theater™
If the motion picture megaplex is to survive and prosper, it must offer
the public the best in movie entertainment, both in content and presentation.
With as many as 30 auditoriums for exhibitors to fill at one location, its
going to require both conventional presentation as well as large format big
screen event entertainment. For movie circuits to fill their buildings and
viably compete for the consumer entertainment dollar, the production and
exhibition industry must offer value-added, big screen event productions.
Super Dimension-70 does just that; it provides the important "big bang
for the movie entertainment buck" for all!