Monday, June 9, 2014

Reel Facts & Opinions: Back to the Big Screen

Earlier this month, this Blogger was pleased to take in a big-screen presentation of Steven Spielberg’s 1981 classic, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. This was not a wide-release and was part of Cinemark Theatre’s Classic Series, where older films are run on the big-screen in a digital format. It was a great experience, and was a reminder of just how powerful the big-screen can be; things look better, little details can be seen, and the sound is outstanding. On the big-screen, even the most familiar films, the ones we’ve seen thousands of times, can seem like new again.
Years ago, this Blogger’s Mom often said that there should be theatres which only run old movies. Re-releasing an older film back into a theatre has been going on for years, but the presentation was always hampered by the technology available. If a theatre or theatres were to re-run RAIDERS on the big-screen ten years ago, they would have to acquire the film print, assemble it, and then hope to Asgard there is no damage. Even with no damage, they are still dealing with a 20 or 30 year-old print which would likely suffer from fading and dust. For theatres to deal with a re-release a decade ago, it was a hassle. For customers, it would be disappointing as no one wants to sit through a terrible looking movie.

The coming of digital projection has solved all of those presentation issues and made the re-releases worthwhile for all parties involved. Gone are the scratches, dust, and faded colors…and enter a pristine picture with beautiful sound. In recent years, studios have sought to capitalize on this tech by adding the element of 3D to older films; their thought process seemed to be that no one would care to pay to see a movie on the big-screen that they have already seen, or even own at home. The 3D element certainly added another dimension, and the recent, fantastic conversions of Spielberg’s JURASSIC PARK (1993) and James Cameron’s TITANIC (1997) were very successful.
But do you really need that 3D to make a re-release work? Let’s swing back to our favorite swashbuckling archeologist. This Blogger’s screening of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (in 2D) was very well attended; maybe 80% of the theatre was full…and that’s not bad. But the real surprise was that much of the audience seemed to be newcomers; they gasped, cheered, laughed, and whooped in all the right places. It was clear that there were many in attendance who were seeing the film for the first time, and this made for a great communal experience; sometimes there is nothing better than watching an old film with someone who has never seen it before…so we can re-discover it through their eyes. This Blogger looks forward to day when he can re-live some older films through the eyes of his young Padawans…on the big-screen like he did.

The strength of a film goes a long way. Newcomers and veterans know from the get-go that a very good movie can survive just fine in a re-release in 2D, and while the 3D versions of JURASSIC PARK and TITANIC were very well done, it would be nice to view them in the format that we first discovered them in. Everyone has a favorite movie, and everyone most likely fell in love with that movie on the big-screen…and there is nothing better than falling in love again.

Cinemark is less than halfway through their current Classic Series lineup for this season. Up next for re-release are SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, DIRTY DANCING, and THE GODFATHER PART I and II.

Click here for more info on the Classic Series


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