‘Dunkirk’ to Get Widest 70mm Opening in 25 Years

Warner Bros. is breaking out the film stock for Christopher Nolan’s war movie

When Warner Bros. releases Christopher Nolan’s WWII epic “Dunkirk,” audiences will have a chance to see it in the same format as classics like “Battle of the Bulge” and “Patton”: in 70mm film.

In addition to digital and IMAX releases, “Dunkirk” will be given a wide release in traditional 35mm and 70mm film formats, making it the widest 70mm format release in 25 years. Film buffs often champion 70mm for its crisper image and wider presentation, allowing cinematographers to film expansive vistas that give movies a larger-than-life feel. From the late 1950s to the mid-70s, films like “Ben-Hur” and “Lawrence of Arabia” were filmed and presented in this format.

Today, film has been widely replaced in commercial cinemas by cheaper, easier-to-use digital projectors, with only a few directors and films gaining enough clout to convince theaters to pay the extra money to refurbish 70mm projectors and train operators to use them. In December 2015, The Weinstein Company released Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” in 70mm format for a limited engagement in about 100 locations. WB will go even further for “Dunkirk,” advertising the film in both digital and film formats and promoting Nolan and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema’s use of 65mm IMAX film to shoot the project.

“I have been a longtime proponent of film — particularly the IMAX film format — as a storytelling medium,” said Nolan.  “The immersive quality of the image is second to none, drawing the audience into the action in the most intense way possible.”

“Dunkirk” hits theaters July 21.