THE 70MM ENGAGEMENTS
Event and prestige movies (and instances to appease a filmmaker’s ego) on occasion are given a deluxe release in addition to a standard release. This section of the article includes a reference/historical listing of the first-run 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo premium-format presentations of Poltergeist in the United States and Canada. These were arguably the best theaters in which to experience Poltergeist and the only way at the time to faithfully hear the movie’s discrete multichannel audio mix.
Only about five percent of Poltergeist’s initial print run was in the 70mm format, which was significantly more expensive and more time- and labor-intensive to manufacture compared with conventional 35mm prints. And of the 100+ new movies released during 1982, Poltergeist was among only eighteen to have 70mm prints prepared for selected engagements.
The film’s 70mm prints of Poltergeist were blown up from anamorphic 35mm photography and were intended to be projected in a 2.20:1 aspect ratio. The noise-reduction and signal-processing format for the prints was Dolby “A,” and the soundtrack was Format 42 (i.e. three discrete screen channels + one discrete surround channel + “baby boom” low-frequency enhancement).
A trailer for My Favorite Year circulated with the Poltergeist prints and which the distributor recommended be screened with the presentation.
The listing includes the 70mm engagements of Poltergeist that commenced June 4th, 1982*. Not included in this work are the moveover, second run, revival and international engagements (or any of the movie’s countless standard 35mm engagements). And to provide a sense of the movie’s appeal, the duration of the engagements, measured in weeks, has been included in parenthesis for some of the entries.
*Prior to release there was a sneak preview screening on May 21st at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles and invitational previews on May 21st at the Samuel Goldwyn in Beverly Hills, May 26th at the MGM Studios in Culver City and June 3rd at the Cinerama in New York. The film’s official premiere was held June 3rd at the Egyptian in Seattle as a part of the Seattle Film Festival.
So, for historical reference and nostalgia, the first-run North American theaters that screened the 70mm version of Poltergeist were….
- Calgary — Famous Players’ Palliser Square Twin (15)
- Edmonton — Famous Players’ Westmount Twin (15)
- Vancouver — Famous Players’ Stanley (17)
- Costa Mesa — Edwards’ South Coast Plaza Triplex (7)
- Los Angeles (Century City) — Plitt’s Century Plaza Twin (10)
- Los Angeles (Hollywood) — SRO’s Paramount (7)
- Sacramento — Syufy’s Capitol Twin
- San Diego — Mann’s Valley Circle (27)
- San Francisco — Plitt’s Northpoint (7)
- San Jose — Syufy’s Century 24 Twin
- Claymont — SamEric’s Eric Tri-State Mall 4-plex (12)
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
- Washington — Circle’s Embassy Circle (10)
- Chicago — Center’s McClurg Court (5)
- Chicago — Plitt’s State Lake (5)
- Northbrook — Center’s Edens Twin (6)
- Louisville — Redstone’s Showcase 9-plex (28)
- Winnipeg — Famous Players’ Northstar Twin (15)
- Boston — Sack’s Cinema 57 Twin (11)
- Paramus — RKO Century’s Route 17 Twin (10)
- Pennsauken — SamEric’s Eric Triplex (15)
- Totowa — UA’s Cinema 46 Triplex (6)
- Greece — Jo-Mor’s Stoneridge Twin (13)
- New York — RKO Century’s Cinerama Twin (9)
- Valley Stream — RKO Century’s Green Acres (11)
- Toronto — Famous Players’ Cumberland 4-plex (18) [La Reserve]
- Toronto — Famous Players’ Eglinton (24)
- Portland — Luxury Theatres’ Fox (27)
- Feasterville — SamEric’s Eric Twin (11)
- King of Prussia — SamEric’s Eric King Twin (11)
- Philadelphia — SamEric’s Eric’s Place (15)
- Montreal — United’s York (10)
- Dallas — Loews’ Park Central 4-plex (9)
- Houston — Loews’ Southpoint 5-plex
- Seattle — SRO’s Town (10)
Note that some of the presentations included in this listing were presented in 35mm during the latter weeks of engagement due to print damage and the distributor’s unwillingness to supply a 70mm replacement print or because the booking was moved to a smaller, 35mm-only auditorium within a multiplex. As well, the reverse may have been true in some cases whereas a booking began with a 35mm print because the lab was unable to complete the 70mm print order in time for an opening-day delivery or the exhibitor negotiated a mid-run switch to 70mm. In these cases, the 35mm portion of the engagement has been included in the duration figure.