Everything he touches turns to gold... The classic 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger is to be rereleased nationwide in the UK next month

Goldfinger Returns To The Big Screen
2nd June 2007

Classic James Bond films are heading back to the big screen in cinemas across the UK thanks to the transition to digital projection technology.

Sean Connery's classic outing as 007 in Goldfinger (1964) is due to be re-distributed in about 150 multiplexes and commercial venues in the UK from July 27th.

As Bond Fever hit in the mid-60's, the earlier Bond films were often shown back-to-back as double bills ahead of the latest 007 outing being released, and later into the 1970s when the cinema was still the preferred place to watch movies. But the advent of home video in the 1980s, when fans could watch films when and where they desired, brought the curtain down on theatrical rereleases being financially viable.

Ironically, it is another home entertainment technology revolution that is bringing Bond back to the big screen. Due to the huge demand for pristine DVD releases, digital masters of classic movies are now stocking the shelves of studios. With an increasing number of theatres taking up digital projection technology, either to complement or to replace traditional film, a new audience has been found. Generations brought up on watching the 007's early adventures on the small screen can now look forward to seeing Bond where he belongs - up on the silver screen.

Above: Sean Connery as 007 in Goldfinger, voted the most popular Bond film in a 1999 poll.

"This is excellent news for younger fans who have never seen the early Bond films on the big screen", said Lee Pfeiffer, author of several Bond books and editor of Cinema Retro magazine which covers the 007 phenomenon as well as other films of the 1960s and 1970s. "The Bond double features of the 1960s and 1970s were enormously successful and often out grossed new films at the box-office. However, since the advent of home video in the 1980s, the widespread Bond reissues have been non-existent, although theaters that do show them find that they draw very well. The Film Forum in New York City just had two weeks of big screen Bond reissues."

To this point, Pfeiffer points out that in 2005, Cinema Retro in conjunction with www.mi6-hq.com held a black tie, 40th anniversary screening of Thunderball in London. Tickets sold for £100 each - and the event sold out. "There is no substitute to seeing a film on the big screen with an appreciative audience", he said. "I think the Goldfinger screenings in the UK will prove to be very successful."


With traditional film prints costing around £2000 to £7000 to print each, lossless digital copies, which are distributed on a tape no bigger than a video cassette, cost about £50, making short runs of films more economically viable. More and more cinemas are installing digital projection equipment. Almost all of those that will be showing Goldfinger will do so in digital form. This will also be the first time a Bond film has been released digitally in the UK.

John Letham, managing director of Park Circus, the Glasgow-based film distribution company behind the rerelease, told The Sunday Herald it was "testing the water" with Goldfinger and that other classic Bond films such as "Thunderball" and "From Russia With Love" could follow.

Casino Royale was shown in digital format in some American cinemas last year. Goldfinger is a test case not only for the rerelease of other Bond films, but also for the digital release of the next Bond film in UK cinemas. "Bond 22" is scheduled for release on 7th November 2008, and shooting is due to start in January.

."Goldfinger was the third one and it was probably the pivotal one," Letham told the Herald. "People always talk about what is their favourite James Bond, and Goldfinger is one of the ones that always come up," he said. "But there are others as well, so it could well be the first in a series of rereleases."

Letham set up Park Circus with partner Nick Varley in 2003 because they thought there was a gap in the cinema market for old films.

The Goldfinger rerelease is tied to a new BBC Two initiative called Summer Of British Film. Details are still being worked out, with a high-level industry meeting being held in London on Monday. A key feature of Summer Of British Film will be a series of documentaries called British Film Forever. It ties in with the rerelease of several British classics, including Goldfinger, The Dam Busters and the Scotland-set horror film The Wicker Man.

Park Circus is working closely on the Goldfinger rerelease with Eon, the James Bond production company. Anne Bennett at Eon said, "Goldfinger was rereleased with From Russia With Love. And a lot of the films got shown in cinemas over Bond-themed weekends - but, as for a full-scale rerelease, I don't think anything has happened since the introduction of video." She added that the early films had recently been remastered for DVD, and that the digital cinema release would use the same version to show Goldfinger to optimum effect on the big screen.


If you are a UK fan who would like to see more classic 007 rereleases, enquire at your local cinemas if they will be screening Goldfinger, and lodge your interest in bringing Bond back to the big screen.

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