Earth's beauty, and environmental threats to its survival, are vividly displayed in "Blue Planet," a $5 million giant-screen movie filmed by astronauts aboard seven space shuttle flights.

The 42-minute film is opening this month at IMAX and OMNIMAX theaters in 14 U.S. and Canadian cities. It will be shown in at least 11 other cities during the next four months before being shown internationally next spring."We hope the audience will come out of the film feeling concerned about protecting the Earth. It's our only home," said Graeme Ferguson, producer of "Blue Planet" and co-founder of IMAX Systems Corp. of Toronto.

The movie gives viewers "a real good feel for the perspective shuttle crew members have from low Earth orbit," said astronaut James Buchli, 45, a Marine colonel who helped shoot the film during Discovery's March 1989 mission.

"It's hard not to appreciate the grandeur of our Earth from that perch," Buchli said by phone from Johnson Space Center in Texas. "You have a powerful feeling of how insignificant each of us is with respect to the world as a whole."

The camera used to make "Blue Planet" was invented in 1967. IMAX film has a frame size 10 times larger than conventional 35mm movie film, providing intense detail and a wide-field view that can be projected onto a giant screen.

"Blue Planet" depicts the natural and human forces that shape Earth's environment, using IMAX and still photography from space and a variety of film shot on the planet's surface and beneath the sea.

From space, the movie shows peaceful, almost alien scenes of volcanoes, eerie lightning flashes, puffy thunderclouds and giant swirling hurricanes. Then the film moves to the ground, capturing the violence of those natural processes with help from a powerful sound system.