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SYFY WIRE Oppenheimer

Here's How to See Oppenheimer's Definitive Version

One version of Oppenheimer will have a very limited theatrical run.

By Matthew Jackson
Oppenheimer Trailer

Next month, you'll be able to see Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer at pretty much any movie theater you want, but it's no secret that the filmmaker has certain preferences when it comes to optimal viewing. In fact, there's one version of Oppenheimer that just might be the definitive, preferred version, but if you want to see it, you'll have to make your way to just a few select theaters. 

IMAX has announced the list of locations around the world that will be exhibiting the film not just in the IMAX format, but on IMAX 70 millimeter film, giving it the grain and texture that Nolan so loves and cultivates. Some of these theaters will even be exhibiting the film in "15 perf" IMAX 70mm, meaning that the perforations on the film print are positioned at the top and the bottom rather than on the sides, widening the aspect ration even more for an even grander theatrical experience. 

RELATED: Oppenheimer Marks Christopher Nolan's First R Rating in 20 Years

“IMAX film brings images to life. From resolution and color to sharpness and overall quality, there is nothing compared to using IMAX film cameras," Nolan said in a statement accompanying the announcement. "The IMAX film format is the Gold Standard of motion picture photography.”

If you're a cinephile, that all sounds like a ton of fun, but the problem is going to be finding theaters that are actually equipped to show the film, and there aren't many. IMAX's list of locations exhibiting the 70mm film print runs to just 30 theaters worldwide, including 19 in the United States, six in Canada, three in the United Kingdom, one in Australia, and one in the Czech Republic. Most of the U.S. theaters are, unsurprisingly, located in California, but there are a few scattered elsewhere, including one in New York City, two in Texas, two in Michigan, and a few others around the country. You can check out the full list of locations on IMAX's website.

So, why so few? For one thing, a lot of theaters, including IMAX screens, have made the switch to digital projection over the last few years, eliminating the need for carting around film cans and training projectionists to handle the film stock itself. Add in that skilled film projection is, sadly, a little bit of a dying art, and you're left with fewer people who know how to handle the film in the first place. Then there's the logistical problem that comes with Oppenheimer specifically. 

Oppenheimer was, as you may have heard, was shot entirely on the large-format IMAX cameras, and 70mm film is, of course, bigger than 35mm film. Add that to the movie's runtime, and according to The Associated Press, you've got a 70mm print that's 11 miles long when it's all laid out, and weighs something like 600 pounds. That's a lot of movie no matter how skilled you are with film stock. According to Nolan, though, it's all worth it in the end.

“The sharpness and the clarity and the depth of the image is unparalleled,” Nolan told AP. “The headline, for me, is by shooting on IMAX 70mm film, you’re really letting the screen disappear. You’re getting a feeling of 3D without the glasses. You’ve got a huge screen and you’re filling the peripheral vision of the audience. You’re immersing them in the world of the film.”

Oppenheimer is in theaters July 21. Get tickets now.