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Get outta the casino: Sphere’s ‘Postcard’ to take Vegas audiences on a global trek

Updated October 5, 2023 - 7:25 pm

Darren Aronofsky’s “Postcard From Earth” seems in the unenviable position of playing The Sphere after U2’s mind-blowing opening, a classic case of, “I gotta follow that?”

But the “theatrical experience,” as it is dubbed, is not to be underestimated. Nor is its creator. Aronofsky directed Brendan Fraser to a best actor Oscar in “The Whale.” The 54-year-old filmmaker’s credits include such weighty fare as “Black Swan” and “The Wrestler.”

While the “U2 UV: Achtung Baby” premiere drew international coverage, this theater show about nature is being relied upon to drive audiences over multiple performances nearly every day.

“Postcard” works around U2’s schedule (of course). Over the next week, the show is running at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Friday, 4:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Oct. 12. Tickets on Ticketmaster are currently listed at $89-$249, fluctuating according to demand.

“Postcard” is under the Sphere Experiences umbrella of theatrical shows. Sphere Entertainment CEO Jim Dolan says the production will likely run a year — a guess, he qualifies — before it rotates out.

Aronofsky said the experience is nothing short of an actual world tour, from the comfort of a Sphere theater seat. As he was announced formally as the film’s director, Aronofsky said he wanted to take people from the outside, inside, to see the great outdoors.

The filmmakers’ telling comment, “I see Sphere as a great opportunity to pluck people from the bling and thrum of the Vegas Strip in all its human constructed madness and immerse them as fully as possible in the wonder, awe and beauty of the natural world.”

He expanded that concept during a chat on the red (well, black) carpet prior to U2’s premiere.

“The way the film is shot, every continent of the world is represented on the screen,” Aronofsky said. “We will transport people, who maybe have been staring at the inside of casinos, to some of the most beautiful places on the planet.

“Not to say casinos can’t be beautiful, but they definitely are not part of the natural world.”

So true (hit me).

Aronofsky has posted social-media videos of an elephant rumbling through the African wilderness. The glaciers of Antarctica, the tea plantations of India and the misty Pacific Ocean off the coast of Portland are all to be featured in the film.

But “Postcard” is far more advanced than flipping through postcards, or observing cool images in a space-age View-Master. This is a storytelling experience

“It’s deep, deep in the future science fiction,” Aronofsky said. “It’s Adam-and-Eve characters traveling to a distant planet to terraform it with the seed of life. But to do that, they have to remember the story of where they came from. Then we go to a whole portrait of planet Earth, and the history of what happened.”

Tribeca Enterprises co-founder and film producer Jane Rosenthal had casually mentioned The Sphere project to Aronofsky early in the project. She followed up with the “pitch deck,” full of pictures and concepts of what The Sphere was capable of presenting.

“When I started to hear more and more about the technology, I became more interested,” Aronofsky said. The Big Sky camera system was developed at Big Dome, The Sphere prototype in Burbank.

The single-lens camera features a 316-megapixel, 3-inch x 3-inch HDR image sensor that Sphere Studios says can capture 18K x 18K images up to 120 frames per second. This was a tantalizing advancement for someone of Aronofsky’s visual brilliance.

“They welded together nine RED (digital) Cameras to try to get the resolution high enough, which caused all these other problems,” Aronofsky said. “No one knew if it was possible. So I was kind of like, ‘Hey, this is different, lets’ see what it’s like.”

Oscar-nominated cinematographer Matty Libatique, a longtime collaborator with Aronofsky, is director of photography. Andrew Shulkind has been The Sphere director of photography for the Big Sky camera.

As a artist, Aronofsky realized instantly The Sphere’s purpose.

“It’s built for the arts,” the filmmaker said. “And that was an interesting idea.”

Cosmo for Lovato

Demi Lovato will play New Year’s Eve at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The show starts at 10:30 p.m., so again we should count it down from the stage, as The Killers did last NYE. Tickets are on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at Ticketmaster.com.

Lovato has notched more than 40 billion streams, “Skyscraper,” “Sorry Not Sorry” and “Cool for the Summer” among her hits.

Schedule de Shunock

We missed Mark Shunock at the Raiders’ season opener. He’s served as the team’s in-arena announcer but is no longer in that role. He says he’s simply busy serving other platforms, including the Golden Knights, Top Rank Boxing and The Space/”Mondays Dark.” The latter celebrates its 10th anniversary Dec. 11 at The Pearl at the Palms.

We understand ’24 is going to be massive for The Space. Keep checking on developments.

Cool Hang Alert

David Tatlock’s Soul Juice Band plays the 21st anniversary of First Friday at 9:30 p.m. on the event’s main stage. Funk, soul, rock, jazz, “all in your face,” Mr. Tatlock says. No cover. As we say, hide behind something solid.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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