35mm film is a dying format, and there's not a whole lot that you or I can do other than enjoy it while it's still around to be enjoyed -- and support the theaters that give you a chance to do so. And if you're a fan of them newfangled Batman movies where he talks with a gravelly voice, you can see all three of 'em on old-school celluloid at the Balboa Theater on Thursday, July 19.
The evening will kick off with Batman Begins at 6 p.m., The Dark Knight at 9 p.m., and the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises at midnight. The Balboa is just one of many theaters nationwide that will be showing the complete trilogy that night, and it's not even the only theater in San Francisco doing so ... but it is the only theater in town showing all three of them in 35mm rather than digital, and that's why the Balboa gives you the best bang for your entertainment buck.
The fact that Balboa can only project film was a bit of snag at first. The movie industry's eager transition to digital is shutting out (and down) movie theaters which either don't want to or can't afford to buy the expensive new projectors, and the studios are doing dickish things like refusing to distribute even second-run movies in anything other than digital.
As it happens, director Christopher Nolan is a fan of 35mm film -- as most directors worth their salt are -- so he used his clout as the director of some of the most popular and profitable movies of recent years to get the studio to shell out new 35mm prints for the Balboa.
So, not only are they going to be projected from film rather than ones and zeroes, they're going to be brand-new prints, and a pristine 35mm print is a wonder to behold, especially when it's a well-made movie. (A new print of Bio-Dome would not be quite as exciting.) And though I cannot confirm this, I have a sneaking suspicion that the studio will immediately withdraw the prints of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight after this screening. Seems like something they'd do.
Tickets for the whole shebang are $25, or $15 for only The Dark Knight Rises. Individual tickets for the first two films aren't available, but even if you decide that you only want to see the older ones -- personally, I'm excited about Batman Begins -- $25 is still pretty cheap for that much fresh celluloid goodness. Besides, the Balboa Theater deserves your support for making it happen, and big props to Christopher Nolan for stepping up and doing the right thing.