Super 35

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Comparing the film area of Super 35 (framed for 2.39) to CinemaScope, standard widescreen and Techniscope.

Super 35 (originally known as Superscope 235) is a motion picture film format that uses exactly the same film stock as standard 35 mm film, but puts a larger image frame on that stock by using the space normally reserved for the optical analog sound track.


Super 35 was revived from a similar Superscope variant known as Superscope 235, which was originally developed by the Tushinsky Brothers (who founded Superscope Inc. in 1954) for RKO in 1954. The first film to be shot in Superscope was Vera Cruz, a western film produced by Hecht-Lancaster Productions and distributed through United Artists.[1]

When cameraman Joe Dunton[2] was preparing to shoot Dance Craze in 1980, he chose to revive the Superscope format by using a full silent-standard gate and slightly optically recentering the lens port (to adjust for the inclusion of the area of the optical soundtrack – the gray track on left side of the illustration). These two characteristics are central to the format.

It was adopted by Hollywood starting with Greystoke in 1984, under the format name Super Techniscope. It also received much early publicity for making the cockpit shots in Top Gun possible, since it was otherwise impossible to fit 35 mm cameras with large anamorphic lenses into the small free space in the cockpit. Later, as other camera rental houses and labs started to embrace the format, Super 35 became popular in the mid-1990s, and soon thereafter became a ubiquitous production format - particularly among visual effects-driven films, as the unused frame area allowed greater flexibility in motion tracking and CGI-related tasks.



When composing for 1.85:1, it was known as Super 1.85, since it was larger than standard 1.85.

When composing for 2.39:1, there were two methods most frequently used: common center, which keeps the 2.39 extraction area at the center of the film, and common top, which shifts the 2.39 extraction area upwards on the film so that it shares a common top line with a centered 1.85:1 frame. Proponents of the common-top method have included James Cameron, Martin Scorsese and Gore Verbinski, as it allowed 4:3 home video versions to be made with similar framing. This method did present minor issues, such as necessitating tilting during zooms, and could also result in off-center lens flares. As 16:9 televisions increased in popularity, it became more practical for productions to use the common center method.


Many of the first digital cinema cameras used Super 35-sized sensors, as it allowed compatibility with existing cinema lenses. Today, many of the most widely-used digital cinema cameras have Super 35-sized sensors, including the Red Epic and Arri Alexa.


Super 35 is a production format. Theatres do not receive or project Super 35 prints. Rather, films are shot in a Super 35 format but are then – either through optical blowdown/matting or digital intermediate – converted into one of the standard formats to make release prints. Because of this, often productions also use Super 35's width in conjunction with a 3-perf negative pulldown to save costs on "wasted" frame area shot and accommodate camera magazines that could shoot 33% longer in time with the same length of film.

If using 4-perf, the Super 35 exposure area is 24.89 mm × 18.66 mm (0.980 in × 0.735 in), compared to the standard Academy 35 mm film size of 21.95 mm × 16.00 mm (0.864 in × 0.630 in) and thus provides 32% more image area than the standard 35-mm format. 4-perf Super 35 is simply the original frame size that was used in 35 mm silent films. That is, it is a return to the way the film stock was used before the frame size was cropped to allow room for a soundtrack.

Super 35 competes with the use of the standard 35 mm format used with an anamorphic lens. In this comparison, advocates of Super 35 claim an advantage in production costs and flexibility; when used to make 2.39:1 theatrical prints and the ability to format the film for TV, detractors complain of a loss in quality, due to less negative area used and more lab intermediate steps (if done optically).

Aspect ratio[edit]

Super 35 uses standard "spherical" camera lenses, which are faster, smaller, and cheaper to rent – a factor in low-budget production – and provide a wider range of lens choices to the cinematographer. The chief advantage of Super 35 for productions is its adaptability to different release formats. Super 35 negatives can be used to produce high-quality releases in any aspect ratio, as the final frame is extracted and converted from the larger full frame negative. This also means that a full-frame video release can actually display more of the frame than the theatrical release (Open matte), provided that the extra frame space is "protected for" during filming. Generally the aspect ratio(s) and extraction method (either from a common center or common topline) must be chosen by the director of photography ahead of time, so the correct ground glass can be created to let the camera operator see where the extracted frame is.

Super 35 ratios have included:

1.66:1 and 1.75:1 have been indicated in some Super 35 frame leader charts, although generally they have not been used for Super 35 productions due to both relative lack of usage since the rise of Super 35 and their greater use of negative frame space by virtue of their increased vertical dimension.

Theoretically, 2.39:1 release prints made from Super 35 should have slightly lower technical quality than films produced directly in the anamorphic format. Because part of the Super 35 image is thrown away when printing to this format, films originated with anamorphic lenses use a larger negative area. Super 35 has continually been popular with television shows, due to the lack of a need for a final release print; with the advent of widescreen television sets, 3-perf Super 35 – with a native 1.78:1 (16:9) ratio – was widely used for widescreen television shows until the advent of digital shooting. 3-perf Super 35 was also used for some time for feature films in 1.85:1 & 2.39:1, and the digital intermediate process made it more attractive because it allowed the optical processing formerly required to be skipped entirely.


Director Year Title Notes
James Cameron 1989 The Abyss Common top
1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day
1994 True Lies
1997 Titanic
Katheryn Bigelow 1991 Point Break
1995 Strange Days
2002 K-19: The Widowmaker
Claude Lelouch 1981 Les Uns et les Autres
1983 Edith et Marcel
1984 Viva la vie
1985 Partir Revenir
1986 Un homme et une femme 20 ans déjà
1987 Attention Bandit
1988 Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté
1990 Il y a des jours... et des lunes
1992 La Belle Histoire
1993 Tout ça pour ça
1994 Les misérables
Lawrence Kasdan 1985 Silverado
2003 Dreamcatcher
Tony Scott 1986 Top Gun
1987 Beverly Hills Cop II
2004 Man on Fire
2005 Domino
2006 Déjà Vu Scenes that were not shot on Panavision Genesis
2009 The Taking of Pelham 123
2010 Unstoppable
Ridley Scott 1989 Black Rain
2000 Gladiator
2001 Black Hawk Down
2005 Kingdom of Heaven
2006 A Good Year
2008 Body of Lies
2010 Robin Hood
Wolfgang Petersen 1985 Enemy Mine
1997 Air Force One Common top
2004 Troy
2006 Poseidon
John Hughes 1986 Ferris Bueller's Day Off Common top
John Badham 1990 Bird on a Wire
Jack Nicholson 1990 The Two Jakes Super 1.85
Francis Ford Coppola 1990 The Godfather Part III
The Wachowskis 1999 The Matrix
2003 The Matrix Reloaded
The Matrix Revolutions
2005 V for Vendetta 3-perf
2012 Cloud Atlas
Ron Howard 1991 Backdraft Common top
1995 Apollo 13
2003 The Missing
2005 Cinderella Man
2006 The Da Vinci Code
2008 Frost/Nixon
2009 Angels & Demons
2011 The Dilemma
John Milius 1991 Flight of the Intruder
Nicholas Meyer 1991 Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Quentin Tarantino 1992 Reservoir Dogs
2003 Kill Bill: Volume 1 3-perf
2004 Kill Bill: Volume 2
2007 Death Proof
2019 Once Upon a Hollywood "The 14 Fists of McCluskey" sequence
Super 1.85 3-perf
James Ivory 1992 Howards End
1993 The Remains of the Day
Martin Scorsese 1993 The Age of Innocence Common top
1995 Casino
1997 Kundun
2002 Gangs of New York
2004 The Aviator 3-perf
2006 The Departed Common top
2010 Shutter Island 3-perf
2013 The Wolf of Wall Street Scenes not filmed in anamorphic 35mm
2019 The Irishman Super 1.85 3-perf
Peter Jackson 1994 Heavenly Creatures
1996 The Frighteners Common top
2001 The Fellowship of the Ring
2002 The Two Towers
2003 The Return of the King
2005 King Kong
2009 The Lovely Bones
Bryan Singer 1995 The Usual Suspects
1998 Apt Pupil
2003 X2: X-Men United Common top
2008 Valkyrie Super 1.85
Paul Verhoeven 1995 Showgirls Common top
2006 Black Book
John Woo 1996 Broken Arrow
2002 Windtalkers
2008-2009 Red Cliff
Michael Bay 1996 The Rock
2003 Bad Boys II
Woody Allen 2011 Midnight in Paris Super 1.85 3-perf[3]
2012 To Rome with Love Super 1.85[3]
2013 Blue Jasmine 3-perf[4]
Sylvester Stallone 2008 Rambo
2010 The Expendables 3-perf
Roland Emmerich 1996 Independence Day Common top
1998 Godzilla
2000 The Patriot
2004 The Day After Tomorrow Common third
2008 10,000 BC
2009 2012 Scenes that were not shot on Panavision Genesis
Paul Thomas Anderson 1996 Hard Eight
Roger Donaldson 1997 Dante's Peak
2003 The Recruit
Gregory Nava 1997 Selena
Curtis Hanson 1997 L.A. Confidential
2000 Wonder Boys
2002 8 Mile
2005 In Her Shoes
2007 Lucky You
Oliver Stone 1999 Any Given Sunday
2004 Alexander
2006 World Trade Center Super 1.85
2008 W. 3-perf
2010 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
John Singleton 2000 Shaft
2003 2 Fast 2 Furious
2005 Four Brothers
2011 Abduction
The Coen Brothers 2000 O Brother, Where Art Thou?
2001 The Man Who Wasn't There
2007 No Country for Old Men
2009 A Serious Man Super 1.85 3-perf
2010 True Grit 3-perf
2016 Hail, Caesar! Super 1.85 3-perf[5]
Roman Polanski 1999 The Ninth Gate
2005 Oliver Twist
2010 The Ghost Writer
2011 Carnage 3-perf
Lars von Trier 1996 Breaking the Waves
Ang Lee 2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Antoine Fuqua 1998 The Replacement Killers
2000 Bait
2004 King Arthur
2009 Brooklyn's Finest 3-perf[6]
2013 Olympus Has Fallen
McG 2000 Charlie's Angels
2003 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
2006 We Are Marshall
2009 Terminator Salvation
2012 This Means War
D. J. Caruso 2004 Taking Lives
2005 Two for the Money
2008 Eagle Eye Common top
2011 I Am Number Four Super 1.85[7]
Baz Luhrmann 2001 Moulin Rouge! Visual effects
2008 Australia
Luc Besson 1997 The Fifth Element
1999 The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc
2005 Angel-A
2006 Arthur and the Invisibles
2009 Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard
2010 The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec 3-perf
Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds
2011 The Lady
Sam Mendes 1999 American Beauty
2002 Road to Perdition
2005 Jarhead
2008 Revolutionary Road
2009 Away We Go
Steven Spielberg 2002 Minority Report
2005 Munich
2011 War Horse
2012 Lincoln 3-perf
2017 The Post Super 1.85 3-perf
2022 The Fabelmans
Peter Berg 2003 The Rundown
2004 Friday Night Lights
2007 The Kingdom
2008 Hancock
2012 Battleship Visual effects
Sam Raimi 2004 Spider-Man 2
2007 Spider-Man 3
2009 Drag Me to Hell Common top
Sean McNamara 2004 Raise Your Voice
2007 Bratz: The Movie
2011 Soul Surfer
Guy Ritchie 2005 Revolver
2009 Sherlock Holmes Super 1.85
2011 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Tim Burton 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Super 1.85
2007 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
2010 Alice in Wonderland Opening and closing bookends
Super 1.85
2012 Dark Shadows Super 1.85
Chris Columbus 2001 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Alfonso Cuarón 2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Mike Newell 2005 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
David Yates 2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Zack Snyder 2004 Dawn of the Dead
2006 300
2009 Watchmen
2011 Sucker Punch
2017 Justice League Super 1.85
2021 Zack Snyder's Justice League Director's cut of the theatrical film, presented full-frame.
Paul Feig 2006 Unaccompanied Minors
2011 Bridesmaids
2013 The Heat 3-perf
Jon Favreau 2008 Iron Man
2010 Iron Man 2
Trey Parker 2004 Team America: World Police
Joe Johnston 2010 The Wolfman Super 1.85[8]
2011 Captain America: The First Avenger Scenes that were not shot on Panavision Genesis
2018 The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Reshoots
Super 1.85 3-perf
Shots that were not Filmed in Panavision Super 70mm
Rupert Sanders 2012 Snow White and the Huntsman Visual effects
David Fincher 1995 Se7en
1997 The Game Fincher third
1999 Fight Club
2002 Panic Room Fincher third
Jonathan Mostow 1997 Breakdown Common top
2000 U-571
2003 Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Common top
2009 Surrogates
Andrew Adamson 2005 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
2008 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Judd Apatow 2015 Trainwreck 3-perf
2020 The King of Staten Island
Patty Jenkins 2017 Wonder Woman
2020 Wonder Woman 1984 Scenes that were not shot on IMAX film
Joel Schumacher 2002 Bad Company Common top
Phone Booth
2003 Veronica Guerin
Joss Whedon 2005 Serenity
2012 Marvel's The Avengers High-speed shots
Super 1.85
Tim Hill 2007 Alvin and the Chipmunks Super 1.85
2011 Hop
Mimi Leder 1997 The Peacemaker
1998 Deep Impact
Spike Lee 2002 25th Hour
2006 Inside Man
2008 Miracle at St. Anna
Richard Curtis 2003 Love Actually
2009 The Boat That Rocked
Park Chan-wook 2000 Joint Security Area
2002 Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
2003 Oldboy
2005 Lady Vengeance
2009 Thirst
2013 Stoker 3-perf
Jean-Pierre Jeunet 1997 Alien Resurrection
2001 Amélie
2004 A Very Long Engagement
2009 Micmacs 3-perf
Martin McDonagh 2008 In Bruges
2012 Seven Psychopaths
Ben Affleck 2010 The Town
2012 Argo Some scenes
Gore Verbinski 2001 The Mexican Common top
2003 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
2006 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
2007 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Steven Soderbergh 2001 Ocean's Eleven
2004 Ocean's Twelve
2007 Ocean's Thirteen
Alex Proyas 1998 Dark City
2004 I, Robot
Danny Boyle 1997 A Life Less Ordinary
2000 The Beach
2007 Sunshine Some scenes
2008 Slumdog Millionaire 3-perf
2015 Steve Jobs 3-perf, some scenes
Kevin Smith 1999 Dogma Common top
2001 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Ben Stiller 1996 The Cable Guy Common top
2001 Zoolander
2008 Tropic Thunder
2013 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Some scenes
Jon Turteltaub 2004 National Treasure
2007 National Treasure: Book of Secrets
2010 The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Jay Roach 1997 Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
1999 Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Common third
2002 Austin Powers in Goldmember Common top

Franchises that used the Super 35 format include The Matrix, The Fast and the Furious, Harry Potter, Bourne, the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, National Treasure, the first two The Chronicles of Narnia movies, the first three live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks movies (Super 1.85), and The Twilight Saga.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us: Superscope Technologies Co." - Superscope website, Archived at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Joe Dunton". IMDb. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  3. ^ a b Heuring, David (June 22, 2012). "Cinematographer Darius Khondji on Woody Allen's To Rome with Love". StudioDaily. Archived from the original on January 27, 2020. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  4. ^ "Aguirresarobe Reteams with Allen for Blue Jasmine". InCamera Magazine. Kodak. May 14, 2013. Archived from the original on October 10, 2015. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  5. ^ Marcks, Iain (February 2016). "Hail, Caesar". American Cinematographer. American Society of Cinematographers. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  6. ^ Oppenheimer, Jean (April 2010). "Production Slate: Police Under Pressure". American Cinematographer. American Society of Cinematographers. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  7. ^ "I Am Number Four Edit Bay Visit". December 8, 2010. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  8. ^ Johnson, Shelly (February 2010). "Bad Moon Rising". American Cinematographer. American Society of Cinematographers. Retrieved July 17, 2020.

External links[edit]