It looks like proper film projection is a dying art. At my Atlanta press screening for X-Men: First Class earlier this week, the image was fuzzy. Getting the image in focus is Projection 101 and it looks like projectionists for the major theater chains are flunking that class.
That’s why it’s bittersweet that Terrence Malick has sent out a letter of instruction to projections who show his new film The Tree of Life. While I had some issues with the film, it’s indisputably gorgeous and it deserves to be shown in the highest quality. Hit the jump for Malick’s four requests and why I think they won’t be followed.
1.) Project the film in 1.85:1 aspect ratio
2.) Set the fader on Dolby and DTS systems to 7.5 or 7.7 (higher than the standard setting of 7)
3.) With no opening credits, he asks that the “lights down cue is well before the opening frame of reel 1.”
4.) Projection lamps should be at “Proper standard (5400 Kelvin)” and that the “foot Lambert level is at Standard 14.”
Unless you go to the Alamo Drafthouse or various theaters in the Los Angeles area, do you honestly expect projectionists to do this? I’m at the point where I’ll be happy if the image is in focus. That’s how low my expectations have dropped. Not about brightness levels, not about getting high sound quality. Just make sure everything on screen isn’t fuzzy.
Sigh. The Tree of Life is expanding this weekend to Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Austin, and Dallas. Sound off in the comments section if you go to see it and want to let everyone know about the quality of the projection.