Attack of the Clones on IMAX; or, Somebody take away Lucas' scissors

Some friends and I decided that we needed to see Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones on the Lincoln Square IMAX screen while it was still playing. The presentation, as you might expect, was lovely. However, we noted several changes to the content and narrative flow. They’re also mentioned in this thread by Tretiak and others, so I know it wasn’t a hallucination or faulty memory.

What I wanna know is, why was it different from the original theatrical release? Is there a limit on the length of film an IMAX system can show? Or is this another case of George Lucas deciding that previous versions of his movie were just beta? Are these changes evident in the DVD? (Yes, Virginia, there is a Star Wars fan who doesn’t own the DVD.) Any help will be appreciated; discussion of the merits of individual changes won’t be.

Well, this should be a short discussion.

I have not seen the IMAX version, but I read about it recently. Most IMAX movies are less than 45 minutes long. Something to do with the size of the film being so much larger that less fits on the reel. The only theaters that can show Clones are ones that have been specifically rebuilt to accomodate longer films. Even so, they had to be trimmed to fit, hence, the cuts you saw.

IOW, don’t expect to see Fellowship of the Ring on IMAX without an intermission or two. Be a hell of a sight, though.


Strange, I did see Fellowship of the Ring on IMAX, with no interruptions. I wonder how they pulled that off.

Avumede: what theater was it?

Actual IMAX format films can be no longer than 2 hours, due to the size of the film and the reels. Since AOTC was longer than 2 hours, it had to be trimmed up to fit the reel, and still try to…snicker…preserve the artisti…ahem guffaw…artistic integrity…BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh, oh sorry…I couldn’t keep a straight face.

And yes, LotR was shown on the IMAX screen here in Nashville too, but it wasn’t an IMAX format on an IMAX projector. It was definitely bigger and sounded better (our IMAX has incredible sound) but it didn’t fill the screen top to bottom like an actual IMAX film would.

Max nailed it. I volunteer at our local science museum (but not in the Omnimax theater) and we just had over $100,000 worth of retrofits done on the projection equipment to handle Attack of the Clones. The equipment can run an ABSOLUTE maximum of 120 minutes of film. IIRC, they said that the “Clones” print we have runs 119 minutes!

I loved when i went to go see it they had some lame commercial about how IMAX is the “Best film system ever!!” but it cant seem to handle movies that run 121 mins. I wouldn’t call that the best system ever…

Does this mean it couldn’t be longer if there was an intermission, and if so, why?

He means the Lincoln Square cinemas, near Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Beautiful bunch of theaters and the IMAX one is very impressive. I saw FANTASIA 2000 there and was totally blown away.

I saw AOTC once, and it was there. Man, it was terrible.

You know, there should be an intermission. Even if people walked out the theater would still have its money. Maybe it’s a logistical problem or they wouldn’t be able to stop people from second-acting it, a common problem on nearby Broadway.

Thanks for the info. It’s rare that I’m not the go-to guy for this sort of thing, and you’ve done me a service in shoring up my knowledge. I had the feeling it was an IMAX thing, but I wasn’t ready to discount the possibility that GL had been busy in post-post-post-production.

“Second-acting”? Please explain.

I’ve seen movies theatrically that had intermissions. Lawrence of Arabia’s restored version in the late 80’s ran with a 10 minute intermission. We were told to hold our ticket stubs for reentry to the second half when leaving the theater, then they checked the stubs when reentering.

Little Dorrit (the longest modern theatrical movie at six hours) played in two three hour segments. When you bought your tickets, you got two tickets, one for part one (Nobody’s Fault) and one for part two (Little Dorrit) and could use the second ticket to see part two the same day after a 30 minute intermission, or could come back for any subsequent showing on another night.

I don’t think it’s that movies can’t be shown with an intermission, it’s that a 20 minute intermission for an already long film would further increase the running time of the movie, making it very difficult for theaters to get in the three evening showings each night that they’d like. Putting an usher outside the doors to check ticket stubs during a 20 minute intermission would be a relatively easy and effective way to prevent theater hopping.

Where’s Terabithia?

Yep, second-acting is when in a legit theater you sneak back in with the crowd returning from an intermission and get into an empty seat.

In such theaters they open all the doors at intermission so folks can get outside, stroll around, and smoke. Mostly smoke. Such places often have small downstairs lobbies and ladies rooms and bars and such, but there’s hardly ever any room for all thousand people or whatever to get into such places, so a couple of hundred go outside. I have been to some newer, more organized theaters where they do try to check the stubs, but most don’t bother.

Second-acting has traditionally been the way for impoverished actors and playwrights to catch plays they can’t afford, even on TKTS.

And I think you’re right that the movies would be “too long” to be profitable in a movie theater with an intermission, as opposed to legit where it’s one or two shows a day.