Todd Douglas Miller's film takes viewers inside historic 1969 moon mission as it unfolded
A documentary about the historic Apollo 11 moon mission is about to launch on IMAX screens.
Theatrical distributor NEON and IMAX announced Todd Douglas Miller's film will play for a week on the super-sized format beginning March 1. This year marks the 50th anniversary of NASA's extraordinary undertaking, which saw astronaut Neil Armstrong become the first human to set foot on the lunar surface, followed quickly by his colleague Buzz Aldrin. Michael Collins piloted the command module on Apollo 11, orbiting the moon as Armstrong and Aldrin set foot on it.
Apollo 11 was crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings.
Apollo 11, which premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival, will be remastered for the IMAX format.
"With some of the most spectacular and rarest behind-the-scenes space footage captured from the first moon landing," NEON and IMAX said of the film, "it is a cinematic event 50 years in the making that was designed for IMAX, the movie experience that has been bringing audiences to space for decades."
The film allows viewers to relive the mission as it unfolded in July 1969 -- an endeavor unprecedented in human history, fraught with risk. A myriad of cameras and audio feeds take us moment by moment through each key step, from blastoff, to orbiting the moon, the nerve-racking attempt to touch down on the moon before the lunar module ran out of fuel, and the journey home.
"Constructed entirely from archival materials and eschewing talking heads, Apollo 11 captures the enormity of the event by giving audiences of all ages the direct experience of being there," NEON and IMAX said in a statement. "When John F. Kennedy pledged in 1962 to put Americans on the moon by the end of the decade, he described it as a bold act of faith and vision. Apollo 11 bears witness to the culmination of that pledge, when America and the world came together in an extraordinary act of unity and resolve, to achieve one of the greatest and most complex feats in human history."
Apollo 11 contains material that has never been seen before.
"Miller and team were working closely with NASA and the National Archives (NARA) to locate all existing Apollo 11 footage when NARA staff members made a startling discovery that changed the course of the project: an unprocessed collection of 65mm large format footage, never before seen by the public, containing stunning shots of the launch, the inside of Mission Control, and recovery and post-mission activities," NEON and IMAX said in their joint statement. "The footage was so pristine and the find so significant that the project evolved beyond filmmaking into one of film curation and historic preservation."
"Miller’s film is a stunning achievement in filmmaking,” remarked Megan Colligan, president of IMAX Entertainment. “The film is immersive, crisp and clear. Audiences can palpably feel the tension, immense pride and overwhelming joy of the team that came together to make the impossible possible. We at IMAX couldn’t be happier to be partnering with NEON in the release of Apollo 11."
NEON will release Apollo 11 on non-IMAX screens later in 2019. CNN will air the documentary on television.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.