History, Legacy & Showmanship

Still Screaming in Space: Remembering “Alien” on its 40th Anniversary

May 27, 2019 - 2:10 pm   |   by
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Alien (1979) screenshot

 

THE OPENING-DAY ENGAGEMENTS

Identified in this section of the article are the theaters in the United States and Canada in which Alien opened during its first wave launch on May 25th, 1979. Unlike a saturation launch commonplace today, Alien opened initially in only 91 theaters in 53 markets. The majority of these bookings were presented in 70-millimeter and Six-Track Dolby Stereo. This distribution and exhibition model/strategy was chosen to emphasize presentation quality and exclusivity, which in turn helped create a special event and build strong word of mouth.

(The 35mm exceptions are noted next to the applicable venues. As well, the 70mm prints were screened in some venues equipped with non-Dolby-brand audio playback equipment.)

The duration of these engagements, measured in weeks, has been included in parenthesis after each entry to provide an impression of the movie’s success.

70mm logo

ARIZONA

  • Phoenix — Plitt’s Cine Capri (20)

ARKANSAS

  • Little Rock — UA’s Cinema 150 (12)

CALIFORNIA

  • Corte Madera — Marin’s Cinema (12)
  • Fountain Valley — Pacific’s Fountain Valley Drive-In (11) [35mm]
  • Fresno — Festival Enterprises’ Festival 6-plex (16)
  • Los Angeles (Hollywood) — UA’s Egyptian Triplex (21)
  • Los Angeles (Van Nuys) — Pacific’s Sepulveda Drive-In (8) [35mm]
  • Los Angeles (Westwood Village) — GCC’s Avco Center Triplex (10)
  • Newport Beach — Edwards’ Newport Twin (17)
  • Orange — Plitt’s City Center Twin (12)
  • Sacramento — Syufy’s Century 6-plex (18)
  • San Diego — AMC’s Fashion Valley 4-plex (22) [35mm]
  • San Francisco — Plitt’s Northpoint (17)
  • San Jose — Syufy’s Century 22 Triplex (24)

COLORADO

  • Denver — Commonwealth’s Cooper Twin (19)

CONNECTICUT

  • East Hartford — Redstone’s Showcase 6-plex (11)
  • Orange — Redstone’s Showcase 5-plex (10)

DELAWARE

  • Claymont — Sameric’s Eric Tri-State Mall Triplex (12)

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

  • Washington — Circle’s Uptown (19)

FLORIDA

  • Kendall — Wometco’s Dadeland Twin (16)
  • North Miami Beach — Wometco’s 163rd Street (11)

HAWAII

  • Honolulu — Consolidated’s Cinerama (18)

ILLINOIS

  • Calumet City — Plitt’s River Oaks 4-plex (10)
  • Chicago — GCC’s Ford City Triplex (11) [35mm]
  • Chicago — Plitt’s State Lake (13)
  • Lombard — GCC’s Yorktown 4-plex (11) [35mm]
  • Milan — Redstone’s Showcase 7-plex (12)
  • Niles — Fink’s Golf Mill Triplex (10)
  • Norridge — M&R’s Norridge 4-plex (10)
  • Peoria — Kerasotes’ Beverly (10)
  • Schaumburg — Plitt’s Woodfield 4-plex (12)
  • Springfield — Kerasotes’ Esquire 4-plex (10)

INDIANA

  • Fort Wayne — MSM’s Holiday Twin (9)
  • Indianapolis — Y&W’s Eastwood (13)

IOWA

  • Des Moines — Dubinsky’s River Hills (10)
  • Dubuque — Dubuque’s Cinema Center Triplex (8)

Alien theaterKENTUCKY

  • Florence — Mid States’ Florence 6-plex (12)
  • Louisville — Redstone’s Showcase 9-plex (14)

MASSACHUSETTS

  • Boston — Sack’s Charles Triplex (16)
  • Seekonk — Redstone’s Showcase 6-plex (11)
  • West Springfield — Redstone’s Showcase 8-plex (12)

MICHIGAN

  • Bloomfield — Redstone’s Showcase Pontiac 5-plex (12)
  • Grosse Pointe Woods — NGT’s Woods Twin (12)
  • Livonia — NGT’s Mai Kai (12)
  • Southfield — NGT’s Americana 4-plex (12)
  • Southgate — NGT’s Southgate Triplex (12)
  • Sterling Heights — Redstone’s Showcase 7-plex (12)

MINNESOTA

  • Minneapolis — Plitt’s Skyway Triplex (12)

MISSOURI

  • Creve Coeur — Wehrenberg’s Creve Coeur (18)
  • Kansas City — AMC’s Midland Triplex (13)

NEBRASKA

  • Omaha — Commonwealth’s Indian Hills Twin (12)

NEW JERSEY

  • Edison — GCC’s Menlo Park Twin (10)
  • Lawrenceville — Sameric’s Eric Twin (10)
  • Paramus — RKO Stanley-Warner’s Route Four 4-plex (9)
  • Pennsauken — Sameric’s Eric Triplex (18)

NEW YORK

  • Cheektowaga — Holiday’s Holiday 6-plex (12)
  • Colonie — Mann’s Fox Colonie (9)
  • DeWitt — Cinema National’s Shoppingtown Twin (11)
  • New York — Loews’ New York Twin (10)
  • New York — Loews’ Orpheum Twin (5)
  • New York — Moss’ Criterion (19)
  • Pittsford — Loews’ Pittsford Triplex (11)
  • Syosset — UA’s Syosset (12)

NORTH CAROLINA

  • Charlotte — Plitt’s Park Terrace Twin (16)

OHIO

  • Cincinnati — Mid States’ Carousel Twin (17)
  • Columbus — Mid States’ Continent 4-plex (14)
  • Dayton — Chakeres’ Dayton Mall 4-plex (17)
  • Toledo — Redstone’s Showcase 4-plex (10)
  • Whitehall — Sugarman’s Cinema East (16)

OKLAHOMA

  • Oklahoma City — Oklahoma Cinema’s North Park 4-plex (10)

ONTARIO

  • Toronto — Famous Players’ University (12)

OREGON

  • Beaverton — LT’s Westgate Triplex (12)
  • Portland — LT’s Eastgate Triplex (12)

PENNSYLVANIA

  • Fairless Hills — Sameric’s Eric Twin (10)
  • King of Prussia — Sameric’s Eric King Twin (12)
  • Monroeville — Redstone’s Showcase East 5-plex (10)
  • Montgomeryville — Sameric’s Eric Triplex (13)
  • Philadelphia — Sameric’s Eric’s Place (21)
  • Pittsburgh — Cinemette’s Warner (10)
  • Robinson — Redstone’s Showcase West 5-plex (9)

TEXAS

  • Dallas —Plitt’s Medallion (19)
  • Fort Worth — Plitt’s Ridglea (16)
  • Houston — AMC’s Almeda 9-plex (16+) [35mm]
  • Houston — AMC’s Northoaks 6-plex (8+) [35mm]
  • Houston — AMC’s Westchase 5-plex (16+)
  • Houston — Plitt’s Alabama (18)
  • Richardson — Plitt’s Promenade Twin (16) [35mm]

UTAH

  • Riverdale — Tullis-Hansen’s Cinedome 70 Twin (7)
  • Salt Lake City — Plitt’s Centre (20)

WASHINGTON

  • Seattle — UA’s Cinema 150 (24)
  • Tacoma — SRO’s Tacoma Mall Twin (13)

Additional bookings of Alien commenced in June 1979 and continued to open throughout North America during summer and into autumn. (Ninety-nine percent of the presentations during this phase of the film’s release were standard 35mm.)

Alien 70mm

THE Q&A

Chris Barsanti is the author of The Sci-Fi Movie Guide: The Universe of Film from Alien to Zardoz (Visible Ink; 2014). Barsanti’s other books include Filmology: A Movie-a-Day Guide (Adams Media; 2010), Handy New York City Answer Book (Visible Ink; 2017), and (with Brian Cogan and Jeff Massey) Monty Python FAQ: All That’s Left to Know about Spam, Grails, Spam, Nudging, Bruces, and Spam (Applause; 2017). He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, Online Film Critics Society and New York Film Critics Online, and has written for Film Journal International, Film Threat and The Hollywood Reporter.

Chris Barsanti

J.W. Rinzler is the author of The Making of Alien (forthcoming from Titan). He was the former executive editor of LucasBooks, the publishing division of Lucasfilm Ltd., during which time he wrote several Lucasfilm-themed books including The Making of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (Lucas Books, 2005), The Art of Star Wars: Episode IIIRevenge of the Sith (Del Rey, 2005), The Making of Star Wars (Ballantine/Del Rey, 2007), The Making of The Empire Strikes Back (Ballantine/Del Rey, 2010), The Making of Return of the Jedi (Ballantine/Del Rey, 2013), The Sounds of Star Wars (Chronicle, 2010), Star Wars: The Blueprints (47North, 2013), and (with Laurent Bouzereau) The Complete Making of Indiana Jones: The Definitive Story Behind All Four Films (Ballantine/Del Rey, 2008). Rinzler’s other books include The Making of Planet of the Apes (Harper Design, 2018) and All Up: Odyssey of the Rocketmen (CreateSpace, 2018), and he is the writer-director of the animated short Riddle of the Black Cat (2012).

J.W. Rinzler

Paul M. Sammon is the author of Ridley Scott: The Making of His Movies (Close-Up Series; Da Capo; 1999) and Alien: The Illustrated Screenplay (Orion; 2000). Sammon’s other books include Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner (HarperPrism; 1996; and updated in 2007 and 2017), The Making of Starship Troopers (Berkley; 1997), Aliens: The Illustrated Screenplay (Orion; 2001) and Conan the Phenomenon (Dark Horse; 2013). He has also written for American Cinematographer, Cinefex, Empire and the Los Angeles Times.

Paul M. Sammon

The interviews were conducted separately and have been edited into a “roundtable” conversation format.

Michael Coate (The Digital Bits): How do you think Alien should be remembered on its 40th anniversary?

Chris Barsanti: As maybe the greatest space-set monster movie of all time. Whether or not that is significant is in the eye of the beholder.

J.W. Rinzler: Anyway they want. I remember it as a terrifying experience, seeing it in 1979.

Paul M. Sammon: Alien should be remembered on its 40th anniversary as one of the top ten most significant and influential science fiction/horror/designer cinema films of the 20th century.

Alien (1979) screenshot

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