The Prince Charles in the UK is one of the greatest repertory film houses in the world, with a formidable commitment to film presentations and the film goer in general. Recently, the cinema committed to installing a 70mm projector to begin showing this grand and rare prints.

Before P.T Andersons' The Master in 2012, it was 16 years since the last 70mm film was commercially released (Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet). Since then, visionary directors have committed to shooting the majestic film stock including Anderson, Christopher Nolan and most recently Quentin Tarantino. A shift back to this film format has forced exhibitors who unceremoniously dumped all their film projectors for digital projectors race to reinstall 70mm capable equipment, and in many cases lament Directors like Nolan and Tarantino releasing blockbusters to 70mm and 35mm equipped theatres ahead of digital-only cinemas. With Nolan committing his next feature to 70mm, it is unlikely the hopes of studio executives to destroy film completely will be realized anytime soon.

So why the change back to 70mm. The folks at the Prince Charles explain.

Why did you install 70mm and what is it exactly?

The reason behind the installation was simply down to our continued desire to support the presentation of films, from film. Yes we have DCP (Digital) capabilities in both of our screens, but we"re firm believers that both celluloid and digital presentation can live side-by-side and so far we proven that this is possible. Our ability to screen from (almost) every format helps give our programme flexibility & options which we simply wouldn"t have if we were a 100% digital operation, and bringing 70mm back to the cinema only helps support that.

We also went ahead with plans to bring the ability to present 70mm back after a raft of new titles (THE MASTER, INHERENT VICE and the forthcoming HATEFUL EIGHT) would be released on the format and we wanted to be one of the places which"d be able to keep these films on screens, presented from the Directors preferred format, long beyond their initial "exclusive" West End runs.

Around the release of Paul Thomas Anderson"s THE MASTER, published a fascinating article about the films 70mm engagement and is worth a read, especially if you have no idea what 70mm (or 35mm for that matter) is.

"Well, the physical film itself is bigger. Most Hollywood movies (those not shot on digital cameras, which we"ll discuss in a moment) are made on celluloid whose frames are 35 millimeters wide including the perforations — about an inch and a half — and 18.6 millimeters tall."

Though it only scratches the tip of the iceberg (the 70mm Wikipedia Page goes into much greater detail), it"s a great little starting point when introducing yourself to 70mm.

Why does it cost more to buy a ticket to a 70mm screening than it does for one presented from 35mm?

When researching the possibility of bringing 70mm back to The PCC last year (2014), one thing which really took us by surprise was the cost of print movement. Obviously 70mm prints are bigger than 35mm and thus would cost more to move, but when we started to receive quotes which ranged from £400 to £1000, depending on print location, we were taken aback. Especially when you consider the fact a 35mm print costs around £30 to move within the UK.


70mm print reels are HUGE and require actual trained projectionists to maintain the feature. Above are the 70mm reels for Interstellar, and a copy of Memento on 35mm.

70mm print reels are HUGE and require actual trained projectionists to maintain the feature. Above are the 70mm reels for Interstellar, and a copy of Memento on 35mm.

This cost, plus the increased rental rates distributors place upon 70mm engagements (anything from 10-20% more than a 35mm booking), meant that we"d have to reach a price-point which"d help cover those costs without price-gouging our customers; and we felt that at £10 for Members & £12.50 for non-Members, we are able to do just that.

You had an issue with colour fade with your 70mm print of THE THING, why was that?

This colour fade was largely due to the kind of stock the film had been printed on. After some searching online, the short paragraph below helps explain in greater detail the exact stock used & the attached video, sent in by one of our lovely customers, goes into greater detail entitled: "The History and Science of Color Film: From Isaac Newton to the Coen Brothers" (if you have 20 mins to spare, it"s well worth your time).

Eastman Kodak introduced two low fade 16MM stocks in 1979, Eastman Color LF Print film 7378 and Eastman Color LFSP film 7379. The latter film used the higher temperature ECP-2 process whereas the 7378 used the standard ECP Process. These films had much improved cyan-layer fading characteristics than the 7381/7383 stocks. As far as I know, these were not marked in any special way, and were available in parallel with the standard Eastmancolor, possibly at a higher price. These films were discontinued about 1982/83 when KODAK introduced their 5384/7384 Eastman Color Print film with excellent low fade properties (LPP) and this film was used for making practically all prints from 16mm and 35mm colour negative.

Why did you only find out about the above issue two days before your screening?

This delivery restriction is standard practice within the industry. Both 35mm and 70mm prints are booked on week long agreements which means that prints rarely (if ever) arrive on site any earlier than 7 days prior to the performance date. This is simply so that the film can remain available around the date we"ve request so that bookings can be made on the same print elsewhere before / after our engagement.

Following the issues we faced with THE THING, we have spoken to every distributor we have 70mm prints booked in with and made agreements to get prints sent to us at least 2 weeks in advance of any screening. This will give us time to check & test the print, and inform any ticket holders of problems WAY in advance (and also update our website in good time).

What are your plans going forward?

We"re committed to keeping our 70mm strand ongoing - the response from customers, even in the face of the troubles we have had, has been overwhelmingly supportive and appreciative. As soon as 70mm prints arrive on site we"ll be updating the website & social-media platforms should there be any cause for concern, as well as emailing all ticket holders in advance of the screening. Yes we wish every one of these screenings could be from flawless 70mm prints, sadly that won"t always be the case... though the 70mm prints of INTERSTELLAR and 2001 : A SPACE ODYSSEY are INCREDIBLE, so do catch those if you can.

Q&A featured on Prince Charle website.