Heaven’s Gate Memories And Theater Info

posted by lookingatanace on August 17, 2005 at 7:35 am

I would love to hear anyone’s stories and incidents about Heaven’s Gate (regardless of the original release in New York or the cut release).

The details that I gather will be presented on my homemade commentary for Heaven’s Gate that will eventually show up on Renengade commentaires web site.

Also, if you have any sources for interview’s about Heaven’s Gate from the actors (then or now), I would love to know that info also. I will give everyone credit for their stories. I have a long time to fill and would love to get as many stories about this films playing in the theaters and the reaction that it recieved.

Also, on a personal note, I would love to know if anyone knows what happened to the aledged Ultra Panavision 70 mm prints that were advertised right before the release in ads in the New York Times.

Did these prints actually exist???

Comments (15)

Coate on August 17, 2005 at 8:05 am

There’s nothing alleged about the 70mm prints; at least three were struck.

“Heaven’s Gate” was a 70mm blow-up from 35mm anamorphic Panavision. So calling it “Ultra Panavision 70” is not quite correct.

Does a print(s) exist of the original cut? Don’t know, though one was shown at a fest in Long Beach, CA a few years ago. Contact MGM…

PeterApruzzese on August 17, 2005 at 8:46 am

I was at the first show on what was (I think) the final day of the engagement at the Cinema One. The presentation was spectacular and the film was very good (contrary to the critics' opinions). The audience applauded at the end. The next day, Rex Reed’s column said that he was at that same showing and that the audience booed the film and walked out, both statements patently untrue. Pauline Kael was at that show also, sitting in the back row and drinking heavily from airplane-style booze bottles.

ErikH on August 17, 2005 at 9:08 am

I attended the evening show on the first day of the abbreviated Cinema 1 engagement in November 1980. The screening was sold out. Tickets for the Cinema 1 engagement were sold in advance by mail order, although unlike a true roadshow, the seating was unreserved. Several rows were cordoned off for United Artists executives, who arrived shortly before the beginning of the screening. I was sitting a few rows behind the UA execs, who emerged from the auditorium at the end of the screening looking shell-shocked. As the credits rolled, some members of the audience booed; a group seated behind me countered the booing by cheering when they spotted the name of a friend in the credits.

Within a day or two of the opening, UA announced that the film would be withdrawn from release after a week at Cinema 1. The nearly four hour cut was, I believe, presented with an intermission.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 17, 2005 at 10:59 am

I saw it that week at Cinema I and was bowled over. It was a tremendous experience, visually stunning, with a great musical score, and the audience ate it up. Michael Cimino’s film was light years better than much of the current crop of summer films. Its reputation as a critical failure is unwarranted.

davids on August 17, 2005 at 2:44 pm

I also saw it that week at Cinema I and it was more like watching an execution during the french revolution. Many in the audiance – the place was packed – sat there exepcting to see the worst movie ever. The critics killed it, they reacted to the movie as if Cimino, whom they crowned after Deer Hunter, had betrayed them. And with UA announcement, the audiance smelled blood. That s exactly how it was the last couple of days the movie was shown. And they booed during the credits at the beginning, as if heads were about to roll. With one exception. Vilmos Zsigmond s name. They applauded him. As if he is not to be blamed. There were laughs later on, but then people got tired. They became quiet. Many left. I remember the smell of grass. It was not just a movie. I remember getting bored as the movie went on which only shows the power of the critcs, and specially their hate. I could not appriciate the movie for what it was back then, certainly not when I took part in a mob scene.

Paul Noble
Paul Noble on August 17, 2005 at 3:14 pm

From my posting on Cinema Treasures earlier this year:

Speaking of “Heaven’s Gate,” I went to the final showing of that epic at Cinema One on a rainy Thursday night. I was seated in the front row of the raised rear section, and next to me was Pauline Kael, who chortled throughout the film, took notes, while eating danish pastries and sipping on miniature bottles of whiskey.
posted by PaulNoble on Jan 6, 2005 at 4:03pm

Bartstar on August 17, 2005 at 6:49 pm

There are at least two indispensible sources of information about “Heaven’s Gate”.

One is “Final Cut – Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of Heaven’s Gate, the Film That Sank United Artists” by Steven Bach.

The other is the magazine “American Cinematographer”; at the time they produced an issue that had numerous articles about “Heaven’s Gate”. The issue is no longer available from the magazine. I’ve been kicking myself for not ordering this back issue when I had the chance!

davids on August 18, 2005 at 12:31 am

Try Film Comment, jan-fab 1981, “‘Heaven’ Can Wait”, by Jack Kroll

Coate on August 18, 2005 at 5:33 am

Isn’t the title of the Bach book, “Final Cut: Dreams And Disaster In The Making Of Heaven’s Gate”?

ErikH on August 18, 2005 at 5:57 am

Another source: the documentary “Final Cut: the Making and Unmaking of Heaven’s Gate” which was shown at several film festivals last year (including Toronto) and aired on the Trio cable channel earlier this year.

Bartstar on August 18, 2005 at 8:31 am

When I was writing the above recommendation about “Final Cut” I started to write “– Dreams and Disaster etc.” but I couldn’t find my copy of the book so I went to Amazon to check the title. I was surprised when it came up with “Final Cut – Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of Heaven’s Gate, the Film That Sank United Artists”. This is a revised edition from Sept 1999. After looking closer I see that Amazon also has copies of the earlier editions, June 1985 & June 1994 reissues. I’m not sure how different the revised edition can be since it has the same number of pages (432) as the original.
It seems that the title was changed to sound more sensational.

kevinp on August 18, 2005 at 2:20 pm

A 70 mm print was also screened in London at the famous Empire Theatre Leicester Square as a couple of one-offs on Sundays to great acclaim : I believe it was circa 1982/3. The chap who had the ‘savvy’ to run it was Denis Crowley who used to program and run a 99 seat indepent cinema in the heart of the U.K’s film world, at 76, Wardour Street Soho : The Roxie cinema, previously The Essential Cinema run by a chap called Derek Hill who had changed it ‘from a tart-house into an arthouse’ ! ( his quote )

The Roxie was used during daytimes as a preview cinema ( screening room ) for film professionals : ‘ tis now a pub/offices and is not remotely recognisable as ever being in use as a cinema


Kev P

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on November 14, 2009 at 5:04 pm

WE played HEAVEN’S GATE at COLUMBIA TWO theatre in Augusta, Ga. It played in 35 mm. It only played a week or two.What saw it looked like a great David lean type of film. I somwhow decided to keep the one sheet. YEARS later i met Kris Kristofferson and he gladly autograph a SEMI-TOUGH one sheet. I thought later,Man, I should have dug up that HEAVEN’S GATE one sheet.

movieguyphx65 on January 28, 2017 at 10:55 pm

I saw Heavens Gate in 70mm Six-track Dolby Stereo at the Plitt Century Plaza theatres in Century City back in the spring of 1981. As I was entering Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters were exiting the movie. After my showing was over I saw Sally Field waiting for her car. Nobody bothered her. I’m glad to have seen a movie at the Century Plaza cinemas which I hear are now gone. As for the movie, it seemed long, but the large screen and excellent sound made up for the weak movie.

movieguyphx65 on January 28, 2017 at 10:59 pm

After Heavens Gate was released in 35mm we played it at the Town and Country 6 in Phoenix in the Dolby house. I remember it did well the first weekend, but seemed to die out the following week. The version we showed didn’t compare to the 70mm version I had seen at the Century Plaza Cinemas in L.A earlier that year.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment