Projecting ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ in Theaters Requires Special Instructions

Grand Budapest Hotel

Like the brilliantly convoluted film itself (a story within a story within a story), projecting “The Grand Budapest Hotel” in theaters requires special instructions.

Fox Searchlight sent its specification for the film’s “proper projection” to theaters before its release last week. Although Wes Anderson’s crime caper was shot in three different aspect ratios (1.37, 1.85 and 2.35:1) to inform viewers where they are in the timeline, which alternates between 1985, 1968 and the 1930s, instructions state in large, bold red font that the film is meant to be projected in 1.85:1 aspect ratio (the standard).

Aside from the projector setting, the directions, shared on Reddit, include information on framing the picture, image brightness, audio configuration and fader setting.

“Renowned filmmaker Wes Anderson has spent the last few years bringing ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ to the screen. We think you’ll agree that this epic film is an exciting experience and the key to this experience is proper framing on your screen. Below are our specifications for the proper projection of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel.’ We’re grateful for your attention to these critical details. Your efforts will make all the difference,” the first of many paragraphs reads.

The efforts must have helped as “Grand Budapest Hotel” had the highest-grossing limited live action debut of all time when it opened last Friday. The dramedy, which checked into only four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, averaged more than $200,000 per theater.

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  1. Scott says:

    If only anderson spent as much care telling a story–something he’s less able to do.

    • rcareaga says:

      I caught the film in LA on opening weekend. I’ve been unevenly impressed by Anderson’s previous films, but this one I look forward to owning, and could even imagine screening once a year, the way some public television stations do with “It’s a Wonderful Life” (a film for which I have a considerably less than annual tolerance). “Grand Budapest Hotel” is delightful, whimsical, a treat to the eye, and (since you mention it) abundantly provided with story.

    • jon says:

      Scott (not you Sam) – Go and see the film and then comment… I was lucky enough to have watched the film in limited release in Los Angeles this week and I assure you that your comment does not apply here.

    • Sam says:

      ” I feel I get criticized for style over substance, and for details that get in the way of the characters. But every decision I make is how to bring those characters forward.” — Wes Anderson

      • jon says:

        Sam – go see the film and then comment… I was lucky enough to have watched the film in limited release in Los Angeles this week and I assure you that your comment does not apply here.

  2. Jesse Skeen says:

    They screwed up BIG-TIME when designing the standards for digital cinema- the native frame is 1.85, which means 2.35 is always letterboxed. Theaters that have proper side masking won’t be able to show the 2.35 segments on their full-width screens if the entire thing is formatted this way. (Regular 2.35 movies are zoomed, rather than stretched out as they were with film.)

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