Stephen van Vuuren
Bye 2018, Hello 2019!
I hope 2018 was a great year for you and yours - it was for In Saturn's Rings. Not perfect (more on that later) but even so, simply getting the flat-screen version of this historic film into the world and having over 20,000 people see the film was great year.
For the film, 2019 will be bigger and better. But first, here's the notable news from 2018:
1. We secured and recorded the great LeVar Burton to provide the film's narration in February. A big thanks to our great fans who chipped in so generously to help cover the costs. We covered over half of the cost of this solely from your donations.
2. We showed a very rough assembly of the film at the Giant Screen Cinema Conference in Seattle in March on a 4K Laser IMAX ™️ system. A very senior IMAX ™️ person told us our footage was "the highest resolution imagery they had seen" and "a great test for the IMAX ™️ Laser system" (Just remember some of the incredible films that have gone through IMAX ™️)
3. We FINISHED the flat-screen version and released it, on schedule, May 1st 2018. It opened in two theaters in Alabama and South Dakota. By summer, we were screening in 7 theaters.
4. We released an improved "director's cut" in September that debuted at the Giant Screen Cinema Conference in Chattanooga, again on the IMAX ™️ 4K Laser, to very positive feedback.
6. Also in September, we begin work full-time on the native fulldome planetarium version of the film. Work is proceeding very well - that's what we are busy with today.
7. In October, we released a 24 minute short version of the film for theaters that turn films around on the half-hour.
8. We finished the year with presentations of the film to the Asheville Astronomy Club and National Institute of Standards and Technology.
So all in all, an excellent year! But we had some things that we hoped would go better and our shortfalls their affected the initial release of the film.
1. We failed to land a corporate sponsor. Our distributor worked hard to land a corporate sponsor but despite some meetings and interest, it did not happen. This prevented us from having the $100K needed to make digital IMAX™️ DCP's and the $300K needed for IMAX™️ film prints. Having those would have helped us booked IMAX™️ branded venues.
2. Having a corporate sponsor would have given us an much larger marketing budget to help get word about the film out. But we are deeply, deeply grateful to our wonderful social media volunteers who have stuck with us to keep our online presence going. Please thank them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
So, what's happening in 2019?
1. More theaters
2. More theaters
3. More theaters
We have confirmed openings in Czechoslovakia (Feb 1st) and Detroit (late June). Both of these are huge. First up, we have an European opening, finally! Then our opening in Detroit at the prestigious Henry Ford Museum will be our biggest theater in screen size and seats yet, in glorious 4K.
But there will be much more to announce as the year goes on. Our distributor BIG & Digital has hired a dedicated European Sales Rep that starts this month so look for a number of dates in Europe. Read more here about this new hire.
Also, we will have the 24 minute version of the film in native fulldome ready by summer and the 40 minute native fulldome a couple months after. The second half of 2019 and all of 2020 will likely be the peak for theatrical showings of the film around the world.
Fulldome theaters vastly outnumber giant screen theaters. The truth is: giant screen theaters showing films like ours is a dying industry. When we started the film in 2004, there were over 300 healthy giant screen theaters operating. Today, there are less than 100 -- which is shocking and sad. But there are over 3600 fulldome theaters worldwide. There are even mobile domes that go to very remote and poor parts of the world offering free showings.
So that is where you are most likely to see the film. That brings us to the those of you so patiently (or not :) waiting on perks - especially a copy of the film. As we state right here in the ISR FAQ, we simply can't start working on those until we are actually finished with the film itself. And, we can't release copies on Blu-ray etc. until theaters give us the okay that we can. But that's good news. If the film were a total flop in theaters, we would have them available now :)
So thanks again for being a fan, a volunteer, backer, donor and part of the In Saturn's Rings family. It's an incredible journey and it's only just begun.