(All of the posters and materials for this release call the movie Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Fuck that)
Last year I saw the 4k digital restoration of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was screened at the Academy theater, which means it was the highest possible presentation quality. It was amazing - vibrant and crisp yet stil maintaining a look and feel of film. There was some grain, giving the whole thing texture. It didn't have the cold, sterile feel of too many digital transfers. It was glorious.
This is not the version that is playing in movie theaters starting this weekend as Paramount rereleases the film for one week in IMAX theaters. It's also worth noting that the film will generally not be playing in real IMAX theaters; as far as I can tell it's mostly booked into the LieMAX screens. There are three real IMAX screens in the LA area, and none are showing the movie.
The version that will be playing is a 2K DCP, which has half the resolution of the mind-blowing version I saw last year. According to Peter Hall of Movies.com, the IMAX 2k is a system of proprietary stacked projectors, which means it's brighter than your average too-dim digital presentaion, so that's a plus. And the 2k presentation is still clearer and crisper than what you'll get on the Blu-rays - probably twice as good, easily.
But when someone tells me there's an IMAX screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark I'm imagining a 70mm film print playing in the biggest house in the theater. That won't be the case with this rerelease. It won't even be the most optimal digital display possible.
All of that said: this is Raiders of the Lost Ark in a movie theater. The movie remains a complete classic, and it's likely that many of you reading this have never experienced it with a crowd. It's a total crowd picture, a movie that draws out cheers from the audience. The energy in a theater during some of the film's best sequences - the truck chase, the Well of Souls, the finale - is palpable. You shouldn't miss an opportunity to have this experience just because the viewing won't be optimal.
And if you're one of the first 500 people in the theater, you get a pretty cool IMAX exclusive poster.
I wish Paramount did this right, with real IMAX film prints. But the fact that they're doing this at all is nice, and I think we should support even a not-perfect effort like this. And in the future, if you have a chance to see Raiders on 35mm - take it!