Theater Tidbits: Alamo Ritz Goes 70mm As Cinemark Theaters Try To Bring Back The Classics

With Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming film, The Master, making waves with cinephiles for its use of 70mm, apparently some (or at least one at this point) exhibitor is going to go out of its way to support those trying to push this film gauge to the forefront.

The Drafthouse Alamo Ritz has launched a new film series entitled ‘Presented In Amazing AlamoScope: 70mm At The Rtiz!’ and will feature screenings of various films ranging from West Side Story to Playtime, and even special screenings of The Master, all kicking off on August 24 with West Side Story. Here’s the full schedule.

WEST SIDE STORY: August 24 – August 30Dir. Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise, 1961, 152 min, 70mm

This world-class musical is inarguably among the great classics of cinema, but its much-ballyhooed drama, romance and daredevil dance sequences are matched by the incredible 70mm photography sweeping across the mighty cityscape.   Get ready to experience the maximum benefits of your senses when this massive cinematic titan is presented in its fullest 70mm glory on our big big screen!   The Sharks and The Jets will thrill and fill your eyes and your ears, as this blue collar Romeo & Juliet tale fills your heart to bursting.   It’s an experience that has rattled and rewarded audiences for generations, and now we’re bringing it out in the biggest and best way possible.



Dir. Steven Spielberg, 1989, 127 min, 70mm

I’m starting to think that Nazis are just no fun at all.   I mean, it was bad enough when they tried to steal the Ark of the Covenant, but now they’re up to more crud.   After Hitler’s lil’ homies kidnap our hero’s eminent father (played by Sean Connery), Indy is forced to grab his trusty whip and jump right back into the Nazi-battling business.   In his final great adventure (sue me), he travels across the globe, narrowly avoiding death at every turn, leaping from tanks to planes to impossible battles, and facing one of the most powerful legends in history.   This is truly a perfect action movie, the kind that they don’t make anymore…especially on 70mm, which will have every pulse-pounding moment exploding off the screen and into your cerebral cortex.


BARAKA: September 7 – September 13

Dir. Ron Fricke, 1992, 96 min, 70mm

BARAKA is a gorgeous, non-verbal journey that brings the farthest corners of the entire world to the cinema screen.   Director Ron Fricke’s stunningly beautiful film, photographed in large format negative, is a kaleidoscopic narrative that spans the monasteries of Tibet, the volcanoes of Hawaii, the shocking poverty and glowing humanity of Calcutta, the ruins of Angkor Wat and more – a total of 152 locations in 23 countries.   BARAKA is one of the most acclaimed and transcendent viewing experiences you will ever have.   “It is claimed that the great age of travel is dead – that there are no longer amazing, exotic, beautiful and fearsome places for the traveler to discover. A movie like BARAKA gives hope.” – Roger Ebert.


GHOSTBUSTERS: September 14 – September 20

Dir. Ivan Reitman, 1984, 105 min, 70mm

It’s possible that  GHOSTBUSTERS  is the world’s only universally adored movie.   If you don’t love it, you’re obviously not a human being.   Spectre-destroyers Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and the vastly under-appreciated Hudson collectively defined everything we enjoy in ’80s cinema, unleashing a supernatural adventure that busts funnybones as well as ghosts.   Together, the four hopped in a converted ambulance and made an entire decade safe for hilarity, action, and transdimensional demon combat.   But you knew that already, as this timeless classic is burned into our minds eternally…but NOW it can be seen in paranormally perfect 70mm, which will bust your skull open like a lightning bolt shot straight outta Gozer!


THE MASTER: September 21 – TBD

Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012, 70mm

After returning from the Second World War, having witnessed many horrors, a charismatic intellectual creates a faith-based organization in an attempt to provide meaning to his life. He becomes known as “The Master”. His right-hand man, a former drifter, begins to question both the belief system and The Master as the organization grows and gains a fervent following.


CLEOPATRA: Exact Dates TBD (following the run of THE MASTER)

Dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963, 248 min, 70mm

This astonishingly grandiose, lavish historical epic broke box-office records. It was a TITANIC-sized success.   But the budget and cost overruns were so high that it still did not break even.   Heads rolled in Hollywood over CLEOPATRA and it became a catchphrase for bloated filmic spectacles, but all these years later, it’s still magnificent to see.   Like the pyramids, it is a gaudy monument to extreme wealth, and also like the pyramids, it will fill you with wonder at its immense scale.   Elizabeth Taylor, who naturally plays the title character, and Richard Burton, who plays her tragic lover Marc Antony, were the two greatest stars of their age.   They could have acted against a painted backdrop and created a box-office sensation, but producer Walter Wanger surrounded his two shining jewels with millions of dollars in settings, locations, props and dancing elephants.   It’s huge, and hugely vulgar – fortunately, it’s also fabulously colorful and entertaining on just as grand a scale.   Taylor and Burton are magnetic, and their chemistry is intoxicating.   Their famous eyes almost outshine the tens of millions of dollars of fineries and sets brought in to support them.   It is gigantic, grand and monstrous all at once. If you love Hollywood, do not miss it.


PLAYTIME: Exact Dates TBD (following the run of THE MASTER)

Dir. Jacques  Tati, 1967, 115 min, 70MM

Writer/director  Tati  expertly transforms the screen into a manic comedic typhoon of outrageous inventions and blaring colors in his single greatest, grandest and most earthshakingly hilarious foray into fearless filmmaking.   In PLAY TIME, Monsieur Hulot (played by the director) stumbles through the terrifyingly modernized streets of Paris, where ludicrous architecture and zany Rube Goldberg-esque mantraps cause increasingly complex goofball crises.   It’s very truly one of the most stunning accomplishments in the history of movies; an impossible spectacle that’ll unravel your brain while you laugh yourself inside out.   PLAY TIME was shot in 70mm, and we’ll be experiencing it in a big, big, bright, recently restored 70mm print, where  Tati’s visionary madcappery will explode into your senses and never leave your skull.   Unforgettable, unbelievable, and unmissable!

In other theater news, Cinemark theaters will also be looking to bring the classics back into theaters, as the chain and its over 150 theaters will be screening restored versions of classic films like Jaws, High Noon, and The African Queen. Again, here’s the full schedule:

August 23                         Jaws (1975)                                                                                                    Rated PG

August 30                         High Noon (1952)                                                                                 Not Rated

September 6               Doctor Zhivago (1965)                                                               Rated PG-13

September 13           Chinatown (1974)                                                                              Rated R

September 20           The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)             Rated PG

September 27           The African Queen (1951)                                                   Not Rated

Personally, while I’m not in Austin to partake in the 70mm extravaganza at the Ritz, nor anywhere near a Cinemark theater, I love both of these stories unconditionally. As outlet after outlet continue to state that classic films have no place in modern pop culture, the rise of theaters truly taking care with their films, modern or not, is breathtaking. Seeing these all-time great films in the way they were truly meant to be seen is hugely important, and thankfully there are still outlets that allow the public to truly do that.