Where to see 'Oppenheimer' on 70mm film in Minnesota

It was a massive opening weekend at the movies as "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" blew up projections, grossing a combined $235 million domestically.

"Barbie" nearly doubled up "Oppenheimer" ($155 million to $80.5 million). In the Twin Cities, many theaters were sold out, including at Southdale where every "Barbie" screening was booked through the weekend and as well as every large-format "Oppenheimer" screen.

It was the biggest box office weekend since before the pandemic when "Avengers: Endgame" grossed an insane $357 million on its own in 2019.

For "Oppenheimer," the movie has some fans driving hours to see the movie the way director Christopher Nolan intended, in film. Unfortunately for fans, only 19 theaters in the United States and six in Canada will show "Oppenheimer" in a 70mm IMAX format. In Minnesota, the closest screenings are in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Indianapolis, and Regina, Saskatchewan.

Meaning at least an eight-hour drive for the most dedicated Nolan fans in the Twin Cities. Even then, some of those screenings are sold out for weeks.

If you can't see it in at a 70mm IMAX theater, the next best format, according to Nolan, would be standard, non-IMAX 70mm film showings. In the Twin Cities, there are two opportunities to see the film in a non-IMAX 70mm print.

Decades ago, 70mm film was the gold standard for filmmaking. Pioneering directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick turned to using 70mm which provided a bigger and better picture, 10 times better than industry-standard 35mm film.

Over the last few decades, digital filmmaking has taken over Hollywood. Digitally-shot movies had two big advantages to film: they were much cheaper to shoot and much easier to film, edit, and screen. Fun fact: Each film screening of 70mm IMAX film includes 11 miles of film stock that weighs 600 pounds! Like most industries, digital revolutionized filmmaking at the price of quality. However, there have been holdouts. Directors like Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, Wes Anderson, and Quentin Tarantino continue to make an emphasis to use film.

What's the difference?

So, what's the difference between a standard digital showing of "Oppenheimer" and a 70mm print? The 70mm prints will carry a better picture, vibrant colors, and a significantly higher definition picture than your average movie screening or your top-of-line television viewing.

Most films shown in theaters are standard digital projections at 2K resolution. If you go to a "premium" format, like laser IMAX or Dolby Cinema movie, the resolution can rise to 4K.

For standard 70mm showings, the resolution is typically comparable to an 8K digital picture, with the potential of a wider "dynamic range" meaning more vibrant and accurate colors.

The IMAX 70mm, however, will have a resolution that could be as clear as an 18K digital projection. The IMAX picture will also, of course, be taller than standard 70mm projections.

The IMAX 70mm prints will be shown in 1.43-to-1 aspect ratio while the 70mm projections in Minnesota will be a 2.20-to-1 ratio. That means the IMAX 70mm will have a taller, squarer picture frame while the standard 70mm will be cropped to in a wider rectangle (think a movie shown in cropped letterbox on your television).

The "Oppenheimer" display up at the AMC Eden Prairie (FOX 9)

Where can I see Oppenheimer in 70mm film in Minnesota?

As of now, only two theaters in the state are showing Oppenheimer in standard 70mm film projection:

AMC Southdale has 70mm Oppenheimer listings available until Monday, July 31. The Emagine theater has online bookings available for 70mm booked into early August. 

What are the other options?

Taller aspect ratios and larger screens

Sadly, no IMAX screens in the Twin Cities will show the "full" 1.43-to-1 aspect ratio. All IMAX screens in the Twin Cities are shown at a 1.90-to-1 aspect ratio. This means the image will appear more square than in your standard film, but it will not provide the full IMAX picture.

That said, you should never worry that the film will look awkward in different aspect ratios. Filmmakers and studios always work to ensure a film will look up to snuff in all formats, mostly to accommodate for the 16 by 9 ratio of most televisions. When filming a movie, they are always cognizant of how each shot will look in a host of aspect ratios. So, watching "Oppenheimer" in a different ratio won't affect your viewing experience all that much.

The largest screens in Minnesota

The largest screens in Minnesota appear to be Emagine's "Monster Screens" in Lakeville, Rogers, and Monticello. The Lakeville screen is touted as the biggest in Minnesota at 80 feet wide and carries a 4K picture and Dolby Atmos sound. It's unclear what type of projection Rogers and Monticello carry. For Emagine theaters, these enhanced screenings are labeled as "PLF" (premium large format).

Marcus theaters in Oakdale, Rosemount, and Shakopee have "UltraScreen DLX" theaters, which include a larger screen and 4K projection and Dolby Atmos sound.

Mann theaters in Champlin and Plymouth both have XDX screens that are 4K pictures with Dolby Atmos.

For IMAX screens, AMC Rosedale in Roseville is the only Twin Cities IMAX screen that has 4K laser projection. AMC Southdale, AMC Eden Prairie, CMX Odyssey in Burnsville, and the Marcus Rochester Theater all have standard IMAX projections.

For the east metro, the Alamo Drafthouse in Woodbury is showing "Oppenheimer" on its "Big Show" screen, which is a 68-foot wide screen with a dual laser 4K picture and Dolby Atmos sound.

In northern Minnesota, the Marcus Century Cinema in Fargo offers a "UltraScreen DLX" theater. In Duluth, the Marcus Duluth Cinema only has a non-DLX "UltraScreen" theater which doesn't appear to be 4K.

For film buffs in far southern Minnesota, it might be worth making a trip to Des Moines, where the Palms Theatres offers a massive 90-foot wide dual laser IMAX (which is also sadly 1.90-to-1 aspect ratio).

For an easy-to-use list, Reddit user /u/jonovitch recently compiled a list of Minnesota-area theaters including screen size, aspect ratios, and screen resolution quality.

Theaters that regularly host film projections

While not showing "Oppenheimer" in 70mm, The Heights Theater in Columbia Heights often shows movies on both 70mm and 35mm film. Leading up to Oppenheimer's release, The Heights showed some classic Nolan films on film.

Next up, The Heights is preparing to show the classic 1933 version of "King Kong," Bette Midler, and Danny DeVito 80s comedy "Ruthless People" – both in 35mm.

Emagine Willow Creek also routinely shows new releases and classic films on 35mm and 70mm.