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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 15:46 GMT
Apollo 13 bound for Imax
Imax
London's Imax cinema opened in 1999
Blockbuster Apollo 13, the film based on the real-life events of the space mission, is to become the first live action movie to be digitally converted into big-screen Imax format.

Imax offers both 2D and Imax 3D images on curved screens up to 10 storeys high, using the latest film technology.

The company has signed a deal to digitally transfer the 1995 hit Apollo 13 from standard 35mm to a big-screen version for the summer.

This is the first time Imax has been able to show live action Hollywood films in its cinemas.

Apollo 13
Apollo 13 won two Academy Awards

Until now Imax cinemas around the world have shown mainly science or nature films because of the expense of creating Hollywood movies for its giant screens.

Converting a conventional film to be shown in an Imax cinema using the digital process would cost up to $3m (2.1m).

Its movies are ordinarily shot using special cameras on film that is much larger than 35 mm, yielding sharper images without loss of quality.

The Toronto-based Imax company predicts the re-release of movies in a different format could bring in box office receipts of $30m (21m), shared between itself and the studios.

'Staggering'

Apollo 13, which starred Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Ed Harris, picked up nine Oscar nominations, eventually winning two for best sound and best film editing.

Director Ron Howard, whose latest film A Beautiful Mind is up for an Oscar on Sunday, is delighted his film will be the first to be converted for an Imax audience.

"Seeing Apollo 13 presented like this with its clarity of image and staggering dimension, it occurred to me that this is how I had always hoped the film could be seen," he said.

Imax recently broke into mainstream movie markets with re-releases of Walt Disney classics Beauty and the Beast and Fantasia 2000.

Such was their success that Disney plans to release its next animated movie Treasure Planet in Imax format on the same day as on conventional screens.

For now Apollo 13 is Imax's only signed deal with a Hollywood studio but predicts as many six films could be released a year.

See also:

15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Disney plans giant films
29 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Imax lights up Belfast
23 Jun 99 | Entertainment
The 'largest' animation in the world
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