Originally Posted by therainberg
Producers obsessed with geeky innovation like resolution thought that that interest would extend over to the average person in the glory days of scope, that making films in 65mm+ resolutions would draw audiences in over 35mm, it never did... 35mm was good enough. The cheaper acceptable format won and it ultimately came down to artistic innovation, the images and stories being told captured in a frame.
That's an over-simplification of what happened. Where I agree with you is that a bad story cannot be saved by technology. But having said that, the fact is that beginning in the late 1960s, the changing tastes of baby boomers, the maturation of rock music and the associated culture, the rise of the independent filmmaker, the increased power held by individual filmmakers as the studios became finance companies instead of production houses and the end of the giant movie palaces as either urban decay or rising real-estate values took their toll, all conspired to eliminate 65mm origination.
In addition, one of the main reasons for 70mm projection was not only improved image quality - it was to get the 6-track magnetic soundtrack. Once Panavision developed the fine-grain 35mm to 70mm blow-up process, most 65mm origination was doomed.
Your implication that 70mm did not draw in audiences is simply wrong. Variety ran an article in 1982 indicating that Star Trek II, for example, booked 20% of its $60-million + gross in only 4% of the theatres - those booking the 70mm version. And the original Star Wars' reputation was derived based on the presentation quality of the 70mm version.
In addition, theatre owners of that age were notoriously both cheap and conservative and did not like adding/changing equipment, which is why 4-track mag sound failed in the 50's - it had nothing to do with audience acceptance. I attended a SMPTE convention when the first prototype digital sound movies were presented and in the original proposed formats, there was not a compatible optical track. One theatre owner stood up and said he would never adopt any format that did not have backwards compatibility regardless of the quality.
Let's look at the films that originated in 65mm beginning from 1968 to 1992: "2001: A Space Odyssey", "War & Peace", "Star!", "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "Ice Station Zebra", "Mackenna's Gold", "Krakatoa, East of Java", "Hello, Dolly", "Patton", "Airport", "Song of Norway", "Ryan's Daughter" and "The Last Valley". Aside from "2001", which did well, which of those movies would a baby-boomer audience (average age 18 in 1968) want to see? The answer is none. The big studios had no idea what they were doing at that time and when "Easy Rider" came along, a low-budget road movie about a drug dealer, with a rock and roll soundtrack, they were completely befuddled.
Finally, in 1982, "Tron" came along and did quite well. 1983 brought "Brainstorm", but only some segments were filmed in 65mm. 1985 brought "The Black Cauldron", which most considered a children's movie. In 1992, Ron Howard tried to revive the format with "Far and Away", but it wasn't a great movie and the reality was you really couldn't tell the difference between that particular film and a 35mm blowup to 70mm in most theatres, so that pretty much killed 65mm origination. Only "Baraka" (which looked fabulous, but being a travelogue didn't have a lot of commercial prospects), and the 1996 "Hamlet" followed.
But overall, between 1963 and 1997, there were approximately 351 35mm to 70mm blowups (plus the 71 titles that originated in 65mm or other large format processes) in the U.S.
The only reason that ended was because of the advent of digital sound, which began with "Dick Tracy" with the CDS 70mm format in 1990; 1992's "Batman Returns", which was the first Dolby Digital film and 1993's "Jurassic Park", which was the first DTS film.
Technology is extremely important to movie theatres, even if their investors don't always recognize it. If theatres don't stay ahead of what the average person has in their home, we will see tremendous declines in the number of movie theatres over the next 20 years. They'll still exist, but it will be more like legitimate theatre - outside of New York each city will have a small strip with a couple of theatres and/or one multiplex in each suburb.