For, Friday, May 22, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: My column in the Deseret News this week is about widescreen movies on DVD and Blu-ray. This July 8, 1990, ‘Hicks on Flicks’ column, ‘Scarcity of 70mm-capable theaters denies local fans a “broad perspective,” ’ addresses a similar issue regarding 1990 theater screens.

One of the more common complaints about local moviegoing these days — at least from those who care about how films are presented in theaters — is that we seldom get 70mm prints of new movies in Salt Lake theaters anymore. Hence, we don't very often get to see the bigger big-screen picture with the highest quality sound.

A lot of people wondered why we didn't see a 70mm print of "The Hunt for Red October" this past spring, for example. Who knows? Although the 70mm-capable theaters do seem to be dwindling.

Two of the best are gone now — the Centre and the Regency. Though there are 70mm projectors in the Crossroads, Cottonwood and Century theaters, those auditoriums and screens are not big enough to allow the audience to feel the impact of 70mm at its best advantage. The only two top-of-the-line 70mm houses in Salt Lake now are the Villa and the Trolley Corners theaters.

A couple of weeks ago, when a 70mm print of "Back to the Future, Part III" was released from a Los Angeles theater, Cineplex Odeon brought it into its 70mm auditorium at the Crossroads Mall. But that was four weeks into the film's run and, unfortunately, most people who would have gone out of their way to see it didn't know about it. By Friday it was already gone.


"Days of Thunder," at Mann's Villa Theater, is the first first-run 70mm print we've had since "Batman" at the Cottonwood Mall last year, and seeing "Days of Thunder" in 70mm is the only way to get some enjoyment out of Tom Cruise's latest ego epic. (In fact, you can take a star away from my 2 1/2-star review when this film goes to video.)

There is another great 70mm theater in Utah — the SCERA Theater in Orem. And at the moment it is the only place in the state to see "Dick Tracy" in 70mm, which definitely enhances Warren Beatty's comic-strip extravaganza. (And, yes, the accompanying Roger Rabbit cartoon "Roller Coaster Rabbit," is also in 70mm.)

For some movies a 70mm presentation means less, of course. Seeing "Ghost Dad" or "Pretty Woman" or "Driving Miss Daisy" in 70mm may make it bigger, but intimate pictures don't benefit as much as action-thrillers.

Like "Days of Thunder," "Die Hard 2" and "Total Recall," for example, which were made for 70mm presentation. And if they are diminished somewhat in 35mm, imagine what they'll be like when they come to video. Cruise will look like he's driving the Hardee's version of his stock car.