Christopher Nolan continues to wow audiences with the most advanced and gorgeous-looking film format, but it’s not without its problems.
As J. Robert Oppenheimer himself discovered, you can’t innovate without a few setbacks. And while film projection and 70mm presentations aren’t exactly a revolutionary practice, it is pretty antiquated to do so in a digital age and with a 3-hour epic without reel changes. That won’t threaten the ambition of Christopher Nolan, who has shot with IMAX since 2008’s The Dark Knight. Nolan has consistently kept up with the format and increasingly lengthened the amount of time dedicated to it in his films. It has even been reported that the IMAX film stock for Oppenheimer is 11 miles long and weighs up to 600 pounds.
Unfortunately, the mass of it has been breaking IMAX projectors in multiple theater locations. A clip that has been garnering quite a bit of attention is a tweet from a YouTuber named Patrick Tomasso posted a video he took when his screening of Oppenheimer shut down abruptly with only 40 minutes left, according to the website koimoi. A bulk of the cases have been reported in Canadian theaters, as many have responded to Tomasso’s tweet about the incident — one even claiming that their projectionist was flown in from Los Angeles to run it.
Stateside, the San Antonio Express is also reporting that at least three screenings have been canceled due to audio issues caused by the film format. Filmmaker David Lynch posted screen grabs of tweets he’d seen that talk about the screening difficulties in San Antonio. One tweet explained, “This morning I traveled to San Antonio to watch #Oppenheimer at the AMC Rivercenter 11 with Alamo IMAX in 70mm #IMAX film and we were treated to the projector failing twice within the first 5 minutes of the movie and the show getting cancelled all together. Beware of 70mm.” Another said, “@AMCTheatres Rivercenter 11 in San Antonio cancelled the Oppenheimer IMAX 70mm showing on July 23 at 10:15am. $15 for parking and $17 for nachos/ drink combo. Still waiting for ticket refund as well.”
Lynch went on to add, “I’ve seen tweets/gotten messages like these regarding OPPENHEIMER IMAX 70mm at San Antonio AMC Rivercenter all weekend, despite AMC saying with confidence all would be fixed by Sat. morning. A theater employee told me they essentially can’t predict when the projection will fail. The silver lining, if you could call it that, is that those affected are getting refunds and essentially getting an IMAX digital screening for free. Still: There are people making the trip here who otherwise wouldn’t have had to.”
When Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight was released in 70mm format, similar problems were reported and theaters had to resort to digital screenings in a scramble.