Saturday, March 14, 2015

Big Screen, Little Screen

As I write this, I am attending two days of screenings at the Giant Screen Cinema Association’s annual spring film expo. This local event is presented by the GSCA, whose core purpose is to “advance the business of producing and presenting educational giant screen and immersive cinema experiences globally. GSCA’s membership includes more than 260 organizations in nearly 30 countries. Member organizations include giant screen filmmakers, distributors, theaters, suppliers, manufacturers, and students from around the world.” The program includes a LOT of 3-D content, including impressive films about space exploration, undersea creatures, dinosaurs, and robots, all presented on the giant IMAX screen. 

One thing that I find very interesting about these large-format science and nature documentaries is the fact that they exist in a production and distribution ecosystem that is largely seperate from the Hollywood studios. Many of these films are produced through grants and corporate sponsorships, and they are more often filmed in native stereo, not because their foreign sales depend on it (like the latest studio blockbusters), but because 3-D is integral to the experience. It was, for the most part, the giant screen 3-D ecosystem that  kept stereoscopic storytelling alive during the lean years before the recent digital 3-D boom. And the program of films at this year’s expo shows that 3-D will continue to be alive and well on the really big screen. Some of these films will play this year at the California Science Center, and I would encourage you to support this industry and visit your local IMAX and other giant screen venues.

On another note, there are finally some new 3-D BluRay releases for the small screen that I’m excited about. In the past few months we have seen several classic 1950s and 1960s 3-D movies finally become available, many through the efforts of Bob Furmanek and the 3-D Film Archive. Their restorations of Dragonfly Squadron and The Bubble look fantastic, and I’m looking forward to more releases from them this year, including The Mask (for the first time in full color dual-system 3-D) and their disc of 3-D Rarities that should be an important part of any collection. Sadly, the studios are still being very slow to release their back catalog titles. Sony did release Man In The Dark last year, but they are sitting on several other pictures that have already been digitally mastered but have no announced BluRay release dates, such as Miss Sadie Thompson, The Mad Magician, and the Three Stooges shorts Spooks and Pardon My Backfire. This month, Warner Bros. has finally released their newly restored version of Kiss Me Kate, and it looks great! But, they also haven’t announced any further 1950s films from their library. I would personally love to see them make Charge At Feather River available. And Universal apparently has no plans to release any more of their classic films, which include It Came From Outer Space, Revenge Of The Creature, and The Glass Web. It seems like a Jack Arnold box set would be a no-brainer, but so far it’s not happening. If you would like to see these films, and the rest of the surviving 3-D movies from the golden era get released for 3DTV, I would encourage you to buy the BluRays that ARE available now, and write to the studios, sign the petitions, and let the powers that be know that these movies have a home market.

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