Christopher Nolan’s upcoming World War II survival thriller Dunkirk will receive the widest theatrical 70mm format release when it arrives in theaters later this month. One of this generation’s most unique filmmaking voices, Nolan has long demonstrated a great ambition when it comes to realizing his projects on the big screen. Dunkirk is no exception, as it looks to balance a trio of storylines (the ground, the air, and the sea) to tell the tale of one of the most extraordinary rescue operations in history – all in under two hours of screen time. Based on the trailers and TV spots, Dunkirk boasts a fittingly epic scale and should prove to be a tense experience – despite its PG-13 rating.
In addition to painting on a large canvas, Nolan has also been at the forefront of promoting film over digital in regards to shooting formats. Case in point, Dunkirk was captured on IMAX 65mm and 65mm large format film stock. Tickets for special 70mm IMAX screenings are already on sale, but Dunkirk is going to follow the footsteps of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight by putting together a wider 70mm release at various locations across the country.
According to Deadline, Dunkirk will play in 70mm at 125 theaters – compared to the 100 Hateful Eight saw. Of the 125, around 30 of them will be IMAX. The rest will be shown via the 70mm projectors Warner Bros. purchased from the Weinstein Company for the Hateful Eight run back in 2015. Tarantino’s efforts to rejuvenate the format cost the Weinsteins $11 million so they could properly equip the theaters taking part in the event.
Deadline‘s report notes that after The Hateful Eight left theaters, some of the 70mm projectors were destroyed since they were considered too much of a hassle. Theaters today rarely have employees to handle them, especially considering digital projection is widespread. WB will work closely with the participating locations to ensure everything goes smoothly. The studio previously partnered with Paramount to distribute Nolan’s Interstellar in 50 70mm IMAX theaters when the sci-fi film was released in 2014. This is obviously a larger undertaking, but it’s something WB has experience with, so ideally it will all go off without a hitch.
This summer has been rough-sledding for moviegoers, with bona fide hits like Wonder Woman and Baby Driver standing out amongst a crowd of underwhelming would-be tentpoles. The hope is Dunkirk can live up to its pedigree and be another awe-inspiring piece of filmmaking from Nolan. Though some of his movies have been divisive, the Dark Knight director has yet to produce a film widely panned by critics, so it would be nice if Dunkirk could continue that winning streak.
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