By Janet Goetze
For the Hollywood Star News
The Hollywood Theatre will begin projecting films in the 70mm format in January 2015, said Kristy Conrad, the development and marketing manager for the historic, non-profit theater.
A gala screening is being planned for “Vertigo,” Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 classic.
The Hollywood will be the only venue in Oregon and one of the few in the country with the premium format that was especially popular in the 1960s and 1970s, Conrad said.
Film exhibition has gone increasingly digital, and some national chains screen only in digital format, she said. The Hollywood, balancing old and new technologies, screens films in Digital Cinema Package, 35mm film and 16mm film.
“It’s incredibly important to us to be able to screen on film,” said Dan Halsted, the Hollywood’s head programmer and a film collector. “Film just offers a richer viewing experience. Whenever we can, we screen 35mm, because we know our audiences want that experience. And 70mm is going to take it to a whole new level.”
When big-budget films like “Ben-Hur,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and “West Side Story” were being distributed, the Hollywood Theatre’s projectors could screen both 35mm and 70mm films.
Later, as the 70mm format fell out of favor, projector parts began to disappear. Halsted began a years-long effort to track down the missing pieces and return 70mm projection to the Hollywood. Previously, Seattle’s Cinerama was the nearest 70mm venue.
Koerner Camera became the lead business to sponsor a community campaign to finance the Hollywood’s restoration effort. Contributions also came on the 70mm Fund webpage.
After “Vertigo,” the theater will mix classics and newer titles, including those made by directors who are “70mm purists,” Halsted said. Paul Thomas Anderson released “The Master” on 70mm in 2012 and Quentin Tarantino is rumored to be making his next film in the format, Halsted said.
“For those filmmakers who are brave enough to still make movies on 70mm,” he said, “we want to show them there’s an audience for it.”