The tremendous critical and box office success of Around
The World In 80 Days makes it difficult to believe that Todd
was continually strapped financially throughout the production. The film
had to be shown before he could recoup his cost and, hopefully, make a bunch
of money. He used tremendous ingenuity to cut distribution costs while still
maintaining as much quality in presentation as was possible. For its initial
70mm giant screen roadshow run, Todd had his prints duplicated from the
30fps 65mm negative. The exception to this was in Great Britain, where Todd reportedly
refused to pay the import duty on the 70mm print. A British quota system existed on imported films other than "roadshow" pictures, which were defined as any gauge other than 35mm. For his roadshow presentation
in London, Todd had Technicolor make a unique 34mm wide print, (actually, according to Michael Todd Jr., a 35mm print was made by Technicolor and 1mm was shaved from the edge) . Rather than applying four magnetic tracks to the film, the London engagement ran double system sound with a six-track 35mm fullcoat copy of the sound used in 70mm. At this point the Curator is unsure whether the unique London Cinestage print was the 30fps or the 24fps version of the film. It is assumed that it was the 30fps version.
Domestic "Cinestage" 35mm four track prints included Perspecta in the surround channel. Perspecta was never used in the six channel 70mm prints. Technical details on the directional surround scheme can be found in Projection and Sound section of this site's "Reference Library", accessible from the Lobby page.
Todd-AO frame reproductions used in the souvenir book sold
Hey, Mister! Wanna buy a newspaper?
Looking at this copy of Daily Variety it's apparent that Mike Todd bought this issue. Eight pages on Around The World In 80 Days promoted the picture. "Second Coming"? "Billions await the New Show in Todd-AO"! You can bet the farm that Todd, himself, had a hand in writing the news for this issue. Actually, the issue of Daily Variety is a concoction of the Todd Company publicity people. It was an insert in the actual paper.
New York Times ad announcing that reserved seats were now on sale.
Todd's financial problems during production don't appear in the finished film, and as a result of its unexpected success he'd never have a shortage of funds for the rest of his very brief life.
Above, right - cover for the menu for Todd's lavish international buffet held at the world premiere. Virtually every piece of advertising for the film featured the famous balloon. The balloon itself was the centerpiece at Madison Square Garden in New York for the 1st anniversary nationally televised celebration of the premiere of the film. Readers of the Verne novel will find no such balloon. The French "Verne Society" objected strongly to the introduction of the balloon to the story, until the film became an international smash hit, whereupon they proclaimed it the best film ever made.
New York's Rivoli Theatre seen during the Todd-AO roadshow run of Around the World in 80 Days.
In addition to having a unique 34mm film width, the print used in London also featured an unusual 1.567:1
anamorphic compression. This allowed the nearly full 2.2:1 Todd-AO frame
to be printed to the narrower film without significant cropping.
Following its extremely successful Todd-AO run *, Around
The World In 80 Days was then opened in a semi exclusive run
in major theatres using 1.567:1x anamorphic 35mm prints with 4 track sound
similar to the London showing. These prints were made from the 24fps 65mm
negative, as would all subsequent showings. Ultimately the general release
of the film was done using standard 2:1 CinemaScope; compatible anamorphic,
from the 24fps negative, with optical mono sound which included Perspecta
tones for theatres that had the requisite integrators. The odd 1.567:1 anamorphic
prints were labeled as being presented in Cinestage.
Many of these prints are now in the hands of private collectors, frequently
the source of film segments lost by the studios. Information relating to
the production of the Cinestage prints varies widely. We are researching
this further and significant updates to this page may result. Any persons
that can provide information are kindly requested to contact the museum
curator. We'll sort it all out if humanly possible.
* There is a possibility that some of the first roadshow runs, of about 30 in total, were actually made with 35mm Technicolor dye transfer reduction prints and the audiences were none the wiser. Todd had discovered, much to his chagrin, that the Technicolor prints, if projected exactly as the 70mm versions, looked just as good and required far less investment on the part of exhibitors. While we have no proof that Todd pulled a switch, Mike Jr. has hinted to this.
Today, Around The World In 80
Days seems to be little more than an overblown travelogue. Yet
in 1956, when the film was released, it received universal rave reviews, which
would seem odd for a film made by a producer who had never made a movie
before, and a director of little renown. How is it possible that the perception of the film could seem so
totally different? The answer probably lies in more than slight differences
between the flow of the 24fps version seen nowadays and the initial giant
curved screen presentation of the 30fps version. Just as the 35mm reduction
prints of How The West Was Won are barely a
pale representation of the Cinerama original, Around
The World In 80 Days was produced with the enveloping screen
and six track stereophonic sound in mind. Showing it any other way can only
give us clues as to what the audience experienced in those early roadshows.
The film is now the property of Time-Warner and until such time as they
deem it feasible to restore (or even preserve) the roadshow version of this
Oscar winner it may never be looked upon as anything more than an overblown
travelogue. We can only hope that it's not too late already.
During his promotion of Around The World In 80 Days Todd became convinced that the 65mm negative and a 35mm Technicolor reduction print was all that was necessary to give the full benefit of the system. He had sold his interest in Todd-AO and during his preparation for Don Quixote he discovered that a couple thousand dollars worth of high quality still camera lenses combined with "off the shelf" 65mm Mitchell cameras were of at least equal quality to what American Optical had spent well over a million dollars to develop. His plans for Don Quixote included filming the project in the improved "Todd Process" and projecting the roadshow prints in 35mm. Unfortunately, those plans came to an abrupt end in March, 1958, a little more than a year after Around The World In 80 Days premiered. Mike Todd Jr. would use the system under the name of "Todd-70" for his film Scent of Mystery, which even he agreed, didn't smell too good.