Cinerama launches science-fiction film festival
"The War of the Worlds," "Metropolis," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and other classic science-fiction films will return to the big screen at Cinerama's first annual sci-fi festival in Seattle.
Seattle Times movie critic
Science Fiction FestivalApril 19-May 2, Cinerama, 2100 Fourth Ave., Seattle; tickets are $30 for "Metropolis," $20 for "2001: A Space Odyssey," $15 for "The War of the Worlds," $12 for all other screenings. Available at Cinerama box office or in advance at www.cinerama.com or 206-448-6680.
Science-fiction fans, take note: Cinerama has a festival just for you.
Starting Thursday, Cinerama's first annual Science Fiction Festival will feature two weeks of special programming, kicking off with three screenings of the 1927 silent classic "Metropolis" with live accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra. Though "Metropolis" will screen in a newly restored digital format, the festival's other 24 features will all screen on film — with several in 70mm.
Greg Wood, operator of Cinerama, said that he's been dreaming of this festival since Paul Allen (whose company, Vulcan, owns the theater) hired him in 2010. "We're trying to branch out into different things and establish some festivals," he said. "Science fiction is something close to Paul's heart, so it's very obvious for us to do."
The festival will be an annual April event, he said, joining Cinerama's classic-film festival in the fall and fitting with the cinema's evolving mixture of blockbusters ("The Avengers" will open immediately after the festival), art-house fare ("Pina") and special events.
Another highlight of the festival, along with "Metropolis," is a new 70mm print of Stanley Kubrick's 1968 "2001: A Space Odyssey." It's a rare opportunity to see this classic in its original wide, detailed format — and it's made possible by Allen himself.
"The current prints of '2001' are pretty beat up," said Wood. "We decided that we'll make a brand-new one. The people coming to see '2001' will be seeing a print that's being run for the first time." Though the new print is owned by the studio because of rights issues, Cinerama will have it "on permanent loan" said Wood, who's excited at the possibility of getting a new print back into distribution.
"2001" won't be the only 70mm film in the festival: "Ghostbusters," "Star Trek 2," "Terminator 2" and "Tron" will also show in that format. "They haven't been run that much, and it's very special to be able to do it," Wood said of the prints, noting that it's difficult to get 70mm films as many of them are in private collections. He's hoping to find more of them to run next year and is particularly eyeing the possibility of a 70mm print of "Alien."
Among the festival's many 35mm offerings, one rarity is "The War of the Worlds" — not the recent Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise version but the original 1953 film of the H.G. Wells story, produced by George Pal. It's another gift from Allen: The two existing Paramount prints of the film were in bad shape, so Cinerama's having a new one made.
"The elements to that are kind of old, so it won't look pristine, but it'll be really nice to run it," said Wood. The festival's other 35mm films include "Barbarella," "Brazil," "A Clockwork Orange," "Flash Gordon," "Forbidden Planet," "Omega Man," "Soylent Green," "THX 1138" and more. Audiences will also notice a special new lobby display — introduced earlier this month, in time for the festival — of memorabilia from Allen's legendary collection, including a monster head from "Aliens" and costumes from "Barbarella," "Ghostbusters" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
For those disappointed that a favorite film isn't on the schedule, Wood notes that many titles that they'd hoped to book simply weren't available. "Blade Runner," for example, is on moratorium by its studio (nobody's allowed to book it); likewise the "Star Wars" movies were off-limits. "Alien," Wood said, was "pulled away at the last minute" by its studio — because of the new Ridley Scott film, "Prometheus," coming out in the early summer (and an "Alien" prequel of sorts). "Logan's Run" was considered, but it needed a new print and "the elements were not all in good shape, so we weren't allowed to do it."
Wood hopes that some of these titles might be available for future festivals and is pleased that the cinema's establishing two annual widescreen tentpoles: classic films in the fall, science fiction in the spring. And he promises that future festivals will be even more jampacked.
"When we do something for the first time, we're very careful," he said. "For the next year, we'll really be able to go big with it."
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com