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. (May 2014)
Super Panavision 70 is the marketing brand name used to identify movies photographed with Panavision 70 mm spherical optics between 1959 and 1983.
Ultra Panavision 70 was similar to Super Panavision 70, though Ultra Panavision lenses were anamorphic, which allowed for a significantly wider aspect ratio. However, Ultra Panavision 70 was extremely rare and has only been used on a handful of films since its inception.
During the late 1950s, the Hollywood filmmaking community decided that changing from filming in the commonly accepted 35 mm format to 65 mm film would provide viewing audiences with an enhanced visual experience, compared to an anamorphic widescreen image. To this end, cameras began to be designed to handle 65 mm film stock. The first camera system to be released using this format was Todd-AO, in 1955. The second was MGM Camera 65, a system designed by Panavision, which was introduced in 1956. In 1959, Panavision introduced Super Panavision 70 to compete with these two systems. Unlike its counterpart Ultra Panavision 70, which used anamorphic lenses, Super Panavision used spherical lenses to create a final aspect ratio of 2.20:1.
Some of the films made in Super Panavision 70 were presented in 70 mm Cinerama in select theaters. Special optics were used to project the 70 mm prints onto a deeply curved screen to mimic the effect of the original three-strip Cinerama process.
The terms "Super Panavision 70", "Panavision 70" and "Super Panavision" were interchangeable, whereas the term "70mm Panavision" referred to films shot in 35mm anamorphic Panavision and blown up to 70mm for release.
In 1991, as a response to an increased demand for 65 mm cameras (in the mid-1980s Steven Spielberg had wanted to film Empire of the Sun in Super Panavision 70 but did not want to work with the old 65 mm camera equipment), Panavision introduced an updated line of 65 mm cameras and optics known as Panavision System 65 and monikered in advertising and release prints as Panavision Super 70. The system was designed to compete with the parallel development of the Arriflex 765 camera. The new System 65 camera was self-blimped, with reflex viewing designed as the 65 mm cousin to the 35 mm Panaflex camera (and used many of the same accessories). Only two System 65 cameras were ever built, and the small fleet of old 65 mm handheld reflex cameras had their lens mounts modified to accept the System 65 lenses. The System 65 lenses were all a medium-format variant of lens designs from the (then) current line of Panavision Primos. All System 65 telephoto lenses (i.e. 300 mm, 400 mm, 500 mm) were converted Canon telephotos. In the wake of the box office failure of the first Panavision System 65/Super 70 feature, the Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman/Ron Howard directed vehicle, Far and Away, combined with the fact that 35 mm digital stereo sound had arrived and minimized the multi-channel sound advantage the 70 mm format had, meant that a hoped-for renaissance in 65/70 mm film production never really took off.