Steven Spielberg says ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ looks better than ever in IMAX
'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (Photo: Paramount Pictures/Everett Collection)
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" was one of the biggest Hollywood hits of all time, and next month it will finally be projected on screens gigantic enough to suit it.
It was announced on Tuesday that the first Indiana Jones adventure will have a limited one-week run on giant-sized IMAX theaters across the country starting on September 7. The picture and sound have been digitally re-mastered to look and sound better than they ever have before. The IMAX conversion process was so thorough, it even won over the toughest audience you could imagine: director Steven Spielberg.
In a phone interview, the three-time Oscar winner told me he was "dubious" when he was first approached by the team at IMAX about bringing "Raiders" back. Spielberg said, "I didn't know if the 1981 print would stand up to a full IMAX transfer, so I came expecting a sort of grainy, muddy, and overly enlarged representation of the movie I had made  years ago. And I was blown away by the fact that it looked better than the movie I had made  years ago."
Watch the exclusive trailer for 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' in IMAX:
Spielberg said he was particularly impressed how the IMAX conversion was able to make up for some of the limitations he faced when he originally shot the film over three decades ago. "All the shadows in the earlier scenes that we shot in Hawaii [were] always kind of muddy anyway on 35mm," Spielberg explained, "because we couldn't schlep all of our big arc lights down into this valley." The restored version of the opening scenes was quite a revelation for him. He said, "Suddenly, there was definition in the shadows, which I had never seen before. And the shadows weren't murky and washed out; they were sharp as a tack." Spielberg joked, "I sat there, I think, probably with my mouth open a little wider than it normally is."
Steven Spielberg (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
While in the past few years films like "The Lion King," "Titanic," and "Star Wars: Episode I" have found box-office success through 3D re-releases, Spielberg said he would never take "Raiders" into the third dimension. He said, "I wouldn't be interested in doing 'Raiders' in 3D because 'Raiders' is not really a modern movie. I don't see it popping out at me. I think the film is dynamic enough without having to lay on a 3D conversion process." He did note, though, that work is going on now for a 3D version of his "Jurassic Park" for that film's 20th anniversary next year. "That's the only movie of all of my films I have agreed to post-convert into 3D," he stated.