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Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) 

2001: A Space Odyssey returning to theaters with unrestored 50th anniversary 70mm cut

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Mar 28, 2018, 7:06 PM EDT (Updated)

Stanley Kubrick is among the small handful of directors whose visual compositions seem to defy the look of their times, and look fantastic doing it. From the eerie symmetries and skewed perspectives of The Shining to the dappled romanticism of Barry Lyndon, it’s hard to date one of Kubrick’s visual feasts merely by its appearance.

That’s why we’re especially stoked that Warner Bros. is planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey by re-releasing a pristine 70mm print of the sci-fi epic in select theaters later this spring.

The studio announced the landmark film’s return to theaters in a widely-circulated release, saying the goal is to give today’s moviegoers the same “cinematic event audiences experienced 50 years ago.”

The approach to the re-release is minimal and authentic, according to the studio. “For the first time since the original release, this 70mm print was struck from new printing elements made from the original camera negative,” Warner Bros. explained. “This is a true photochemical film recreation. There are no digital tricks, remastered effects, or revisionist edits.”

In the pre-Star Wars days, when most science fiction films didn’t (or couldn’t) set a high priority on making their space set pieces look particularly convincing, Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece paid diligent attention to giving space — and the objects in it — a true sense of place.

Kubrick’s devotion to realism was part of that formula, but so, too, was his insistence on crafting a futuristic world that somehow still managed to looked lived in. On the big screen, it represented a giant leap forward; one that George Lucas would later reference as a key visual touchstone for what he hoped to accomplish with Star Wars.

There’s no word yet on how many screens will be lit up by HAL 9000’s eerily placid red eye, but with Warner Bros.’ distribution power, we hopefully won’t have to travel far to voyage once more to the very limits of the universe. The unrestored re-release of 2001: A Space Odyssey floats into theaters beginning May 18.