'Apollo 11' Documentary to Launch Onto IMAX Screens on March 1

Apollo 11 IMAX experience opens March 1, 2019
“Apollo 11" The IMAX Experience opens March 1, 2019 for one week only. The film will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience with proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-Mastering) technology. (Image credit: IMAX)

"Apollo 11" now has a launch date.

The Todd Douglas Miller documentary, which features never-before-seen 70mm footage and previously unheard audio from the historic first moon landing mission, will exclusively debut in IMAX theaters for one week only beginning March 1.

The feature-length film, which premiered to critical acclaim at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, will then open in movie theaters everywhere on March 8. [Apollo 11 Moon Landing Site Seen in Unprecedented Detail]

"We're so excited to be working with NEON and IMAX on this very special event film," said Miller in a statement. "Ever since we saw the first frame of 65mm film footage roll off the film scanner we always envisioned 'Apollo 11' to be seen on the biggest screens possible."

"IMAX theaters are the cathedrals of cinema and we can't think of a more perfect way for audiences to enjoy the adventure of 'Apollo 11,'" he said.

"Apollo 11" was crafted from a trove of archival footage and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings. The film gives audiences a front row seat for NASA's most celebrated mission, which forever made Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins household names. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control and the millions of spectators on the ground, moviegoers will vividly experience the days in July 1969 when humankind took its first giant leap onto another world.

"Miller's film is a stunning achievement in filmmaking," said Megan Colligan, IMAX Entertainment's president, in a statement. "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.'"

Miller and his team were working with NASA and the National Archives to locate the existing footage from the Apollo 11 moon landing mission when staff members at the Archives made the unexpected discovery of an unprocessed collection of large-format film, never before seen by the public. The film contained shots of the launch, the inside of the Launch Control Center and the ocean recovery of the astronauts. The footage was so pristine and the find so significant that the project evolved beyond filmmaking into one of film curation and historic preservation.

Commissioned by CNN Films to create a film about the first moon landing, "Apollo 11" began taking shape as a feature documentary.

The more than 11,000 hours of audio recordings captured individual tracks from 60 members of Mission Control throughout every moment of the flight. "Apollo 11" film team members created code to restore the audio and make it searchable and then began the multi-year process of listening to and documenting the recordings. The effort yielded new insights into the mission's key events, as well as moments of humor and camaraderie.

The movie poster for Todd Douglas Miller's "Apollo 11" features an image of the Saturn V rocket taken from never-before-seen 70mm footage of the first moon landing mission. "A cinematic event 50 years in the making," the 93-minute documentary is coming March 1, 2019 to IMAX theaters for a one-week exclusive, followed by a March 8 opening in movie theaters everywhere. (Image credit: Neon/CNN Films)

The digitization of the 65mm film, as well as the re-scanning of 16mm and 35mm materials, was undertaken at Final Frame, a post-production house in New York City, which helped create a scanner capable of high dynamic range scanning at resolutions up to 8K. The resulting transfer — from which the film was cut — is the highest resolution, highest quality digital collection of Apollo 11 mission footage in existence.

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.

"Apollo 11" will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience with proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-Mastering) technology.

For more information or to reserve tickets for "Apollo 11," see IMAX's website.

Watch the official IMAX trailer for "Apollo 11" at collectSPACE.

Disclosure: The author of this article, collectSPACE.com's editor Robert Pearlman, served as the historical consultant on "Apollo 11."

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Robert Z. Pearlman
collectSPACE.com Editor, Space.com Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.