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C'MON HOLLYWOOD: The sorry state of film exhibition

11.23.2011

How many of you have been to a theatre recently, where the audio/visual presentation of the movie was subpar? I wager a lot of you. With theatre attendance down, and flat box-office, a lot of theatre chains seem to be cutting corners when it comes to the presentation of their films. To me, this has only really become a problem in recent years, with the popularization of digital and 3D.


In order to properly show a film digitally, a certain configuration is needed. I'm not a particularly technical guy, and I have no idea what it is- other than the fact that 3D and 2D need different bulbs. In an effort to cut costs, a lot of theatres don't seem to be taking this into consideration, and the common complaint of a 3D film being too dark is common.

Often, we chalk this up due to a hasty post-conversion, but this is not always the case. Often it's that the wrong bulb is being used. Whether this is due to stinginess or a lack of knowledge among distributors is open for argument, but if we're paying upwards of $15 to see a movie, it better damn well look and sound AMAZING.

It's enough of a problem that when Terrence Malick was prepping TREE OF LIFE for release, he sent along a form begging projectionists to show it at his exact specifications. These instructions are not always followed, and I can't begin to count the number of times I've sat through a film that looked like the film was being projected through a dark cloth.

Probably the worst experience I've had in awhile was with DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, which was almost indecipherable. I'm sure the film was intentionally given a dark look, but I doubt it was near the extreme I saw it with back in August. It was so bad that I could barely tell what the monsters looked like, and I left the theatre with dry eyes, and a headaches. Not exactly a pleasant night out at the movies.

Another troubling issue is the rise of fake-IMAX. Real, 65mm IMAX is amazing, and the closest thing our generation will ever get to the grandeur of great 70mm roadshow presentations common in the late fifties, sixties, and seventies. For me, the most memorable theatrical experiences I've had in the last five years were all on IMAX. They were THE DARK KNIGHT (even more impressive by using the full 1:44:1 ratio in some scenes), INCEPTION, and AVATAR. Watching those films on IMAX felt like an event.


Back in May, I was unlucky enough to experience fake IMAX, which is nothing but digital projection (real IMAX is 65mm celluloid) on a slightly larger than average screen. Even worse, the price is identical! I fully intend to go see MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL on IMAX next month, but I know that in my area, there's only one theatre equipped to show it the way it's meant to be seen. I'd hate to see anyone else get suckered in by this scam, and see it in a way that really devalues the format (it still amazes me IMAX allowed itself to be branded this way).

If exhibitors want us to return to the theatres, people need to be able to experience a grandeur they can't at home. In the fifties, the answer to television was Cinemascope, but that's no longer enough with home theatres so affordable. Instead, the presentation needs to be exquisite, and may I suggest cell phone blockers, to prevent people from texting every two minutes. An art house theatre in Montreal uses this, and it's attendance has skyrocketed.

Extra Tidbit: Anyone have any recent stories where they had a good/bad experience in a theatre?
Source: JoBlo.com

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+1
1:34AM on 11/25/2011
Don't throw 3D under the bus on this... My local cinema can't even show 2D films in decent brightness levels and they can't even get the fucking aspect ratio right. The Lion King and Immortals were shown in more like 4:3 ratio. No wonder people just download stuff.
You have chumps running the show instructed by corperate douchbags only interested int he bottom line, which is failing more and more... It's a feedback loop, they try to cut costs, the cinema experience get's worse, less
Don't throw 3D under the bus on this... My local cinema can't even show 2D films in decent brightness levels and they can't even get the fucking aspect ratio right. The Lion King and Immortals were shown in more like 4:3 ratio. No wonder people just download stuff.
You have chumps running the show instructed by corperate douchbags only interested int he bottom line, which is failing more and more... It's a feedback loop, they try to cut costs, the cinema experience get's worse, less people go.
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10:42PM on 11/23/2011
It seems most people are complaining about their experiences with 3D movies, which is why i refuse to see any movie in 3D. The movie experience is just not the same anymore & i really only go watch one if it's a movie worth seeing, and I have only seen a total of 5 this year. Now I just wait till it comes out on Blu-ray or even redbox, then I decide if I want it in my collection.
It seems most people are complaining about their experiences with 3D movies, which is why i refuse to see any movie in 3D. The movie experience is just not the same anymore & i really only go watch one if it's a movie worth seeing, and I have only seen a total of 5 this year. Now I just wait till it comes out on Blu-ray or even redbox, then I decide if I want it in my collection.
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8:03PM on 11/23/2011
I love how all of you are complaining about the quality of your movie theaters when you have regal and AMC theaters to go to. I live in Twin Falls Idaho. we have one theater that holds 12 movies. its owned by a guy that works on the city council and keeps any other theatre from coming into the town. Our theater still has the curtains come up when we go see a movie. Its the same building that has been around for 30 years, and before that it was a theater 6. every movie I see is shit. plus the
I love how all of you are complaining about the quality of your movie theaters when you have regal and AMC theaters to go to. I live in Twin Falls Idaho. we have one theater that holds 12 movies. its owned by a guy that works on the city council and keeps any other theatre from coming into the town. Our theater still has the curtains come up when we go see a movie. Its the same building that has been around for 30 years, and before that it was a theater 6. every movie I see is shit. plus the guy that owns it picks which movies he wants to show there. usually rated R movies are never shown. When I get to Boise its like a dream come true when I can see a movie at regal cinemas. But usually I just wait til the movie comes out on DVD or Blue Ray.
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+4
6:35PM on 11/23/2011
High prices, loud kids, cellphones, uncomfortable seats, crappy A&V quality, lame 3D movies... vs Comfy sofa, lady on the side, a few beers, some pizza, 40" screen tv, blu-ray.. so in the end I went to the theater as much as 2 or 3 times this year, I don't think this is going to change any time soon.
High prices, loud kids, cellphones, uncomfortable seats, crappy A&V quality, lame 3D movies... vs Comfy sofa, lady on the side, a few beers, some pizza, 40" screen tv, blu-ray.. so in the end I went to the theater as much as 2 or 3 times this year, I don't think this is going to change any time soon.
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+0
5:50PM on 11/23/2011
I haven't noticed this problem being rampant except at maybe two theaters, but then again, I live in San Francisco. One of the theaters I frequent is also where the majority of the Pixar work force go to view their movies on opening night. Plus, we have only one IMAX theater in town, so no one gets confused or swindled out of money (unless they paid to see Avatar) when going to an IMAX showing. The last thing I saw was A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas in 3D, and it was crisp, bright, and the
I haven't noticed this problem being rampant except at maybe two theaters, but then again, I live in San Francisco. One of the theaters I frequent is also where the majority of the Pixar work force go to view their movies on opening night. Plus, we have only one IMAX theater in town, so no one gets confused or swindled out of money (unless they paid to see Avatar) when going to an IMAX showing. The last thing I saw was A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas in 3D, and it was crisp, bright, and the 3D was actually good (considering I really hate 3D to begin with).
That's not to say that we don't have a few bad theaters in this city. Most of the indie theaters show movies at the same price as the big guys, but with screens and projectors that suck major ass. Plus the newest theater in the mall has always had a dimmer screen since they started. Which is why I don't go to that theater unless it's the only place showing a movie I want to see, and then I'll only go to the matinee there.
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5:19PM on 11/23/2011

Agreed

I agree with everything you said. Sometimes I can't tell if video or audio issues are the movie or the theater. I've actually had projectors break down on me a couple of times, too, which is annoying as hell. Most recently, when I went to see Puss in Boots, the projector froze for a good three to five minutes.
I agree with everything you said. Sometimes I can't tell if video or audio issues are the movie or the theater. I've actually had projectors break down on me a couple of times, too, which is annoying as hell. Most recently, when I went to see Puss in Boots, the projector froze for a good three to five minutes.
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+5
4:27PM on 11/23/2011
Thank you.

I have had to completely stop going to the Regal theaters in my area because every single time I went they fucked something up.

I would also pay extra for snipers that take out people that use their cells phones.

Thank you.

I have had to completely stop going to the Regal theaters in my area because every single time I went they fucked something up.

I would also pay extra for snipers that take out people that use their cells phones.

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3:21PM on 11/23/2011
Last movie I saw in the theater was Transformers 2, so yeah, not too great of an experience there. I just wait for the day the DVD/Blue Ray is released then download the available torrent and watch it on my 65" in the comfort of my own home, where I can drink and smoke all I want with any and all of my friends....oh yeah, and it's free! Even better is that I can store hundreds of movies on one of my external HD's and it takes up virtually no physical space at all.....so yeah, theaters can
Last movie I saw in the theater was Transformers 2, so yeah, not too great of an experience there. I just wait for the day the DVD/Blue Ray is released then download the available torrent and watch it on my 65" in the comfort of my own home, where I can drink and smoke all I want with any and all of my friends....oh yeah, and it's free! Even better is that I can store hundreds of movies on one of my external HD's and it takes up virtually no physical space at all.....so yeah, theaters can shove it up their ass for all I care.
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+4
2:29PM on 11/23/2011
Extra Tidbit: Not me but my sister went to see the new Twilight movie Tuesday and she said someone brought their (crying) baby. Also when they went to sit in some of the only empty seats left they had to ask teenagers to put their feet down so they could sit down. Apparently they gave them attitude about it, and talked through out the film.
Extra Tidbit: Not me but my sister went to see the new Twilight movie Tuesday and she said someone brought their (crying) baby. Also when they went to sit in some of the only empty seats left they had to ask teenagers to put their feet down so they could sit down. Apparently they gave them attitude about it, and talked through out the film.
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1:45PM on 11/23/2011
I think they should tier imax into 3 catagories: minimax, simax, and dimax. Minimax will be the term for the standard theater with a few extra feet of screen. Simax will be standard imax screen with standard size. Dimax will be dome based projection like what is used at museum of science and industry tampa. Do it that way and people will definately know if they are paying for the true imax or just the mini equivalent. By the way, I find dome imax to be the best since the level of immersion is
I think they should tier imax into 3 catagories: minimax, simax, and dimax. Minimax will be the term for the standard theater with a few extra feet of screen. Simax will be standard imax screen with standard size. Dimax will be dome based projection like what is used at museum of science and industry tampa. Do it that way and people will definately know if they are paying for the true imax or just the mini equivalent. By the way, I find dome imax to be the best since the level of immersion is far greater than just your average 3d conversion which only adds a certain amount of depth to the image.
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12:18PM on 11/23/2011

Fake Imax

I remember paying that little extra for an "imax" experience at one of the local theater chains and I was so disappointed. The only thing I experienced was a slightly brighter screen and extremely loud sound. Needless to say, compared to the REAL Imax, I was sorely disappointed and never paid for sub par imax ever again.
I remember paying that little extra for an "imax" experience at one of the local theater chains and I was so disappointed. The only thing I experienced was a slightly brighter screen and extremely loud sound. Needless to say, compared to the REAL Imax, I was sorely disappointed and never paid for sub par imax ever again.
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10:57AM on 11/23/2011
A couple of years ago, I went to see a movie, and the teen projectionnist has messed up something, so during a good 20 minutes of the film near the end, we could see the mic over the actor's head. Those last 20 minutes were supposed to be emotional, it ruined everything. The sad thing is, that happened twice, and people in the theater who don't know much, thought it was the director's fault, as if he didn't know how to frame a shot. That tells you how ignorant are on some level, I don't know
A couple of years ago, I went to see a movie, and the teen projectionnist has messed up something, so during a good 20 minutes of the film near the end, we could see the mic over the actor's head. Those last 20 minutes were supposed to be emotional, it ruined everything. The sad thing is, that happened twice, and people in the theater who don't know much, thought it was the director's fault, as if he didn't know how to frame a shot. That tells you how ignorant are on some level, I don't know how you could think after spending weeks in the editing room, you could finally decide to release a film that way.

And with 3D now, well, projectionists are too lazy to remove the lens that isn't needed for 2D movies, and ruin everything.
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2:44AM on 11/24/2011
Skellington, it is quite possible that the boom was in the frame because of a filming issue. I've seen it before, and sometimes you can't correct it without framing the film too far in the other direction and seeing a frame line. Also, depending on the system, changing out the lens is not as easy as it sounds due the fact that some of the lenses weigh about 40 lbs. not to mention there are convergence settings that need to be set.
Skellington, it is quite possible that the boom was in the frame because of a filming issue. I've seen it before, and sometimes you can't correct it without framing the film too far in the other direction and seeing a frame line. Also, depending on the system, changing out the lens is not as easy as it sounds due the fact that some of the lenses weigh about 40 lbs. not to mention there are convergence settings that need to be set.
10:46AM on 11/23/2011
I second this article. I saw drive angry (terrible) in 3D. It was my first 3D movie and it was dark as hell and the 3d sucked to boot. I've also been tricked with fake IMAX. I saw V for Vendetta in IMAX on the east coast with a proper set up and it was amazing to watch. I saw Inception for the third time in Digital IMAX which looked like I was watching it at home on my computer monitor. I could fucking see the pixels. It was a hugely disappointing waste of money when the film looked better on a
I second this article. I saw drive angry (terrible) in 3D. It was my first 3D movie and it was dark as hell and the 3d sucked to boot. I've also been tricked with fake IMAX. I saw V for Vendetta in IMAX on the east coast with a proper set up and it was amazing to watch. I saw Inception for the third time in Digital IMAX which looked like I was watching it at home on my computer monitor. I could fucking see the pixels. It was a hugely disappointing waste of money when the film looked better on a regular film screen. Another reason why theaters are a rip off most of the time.
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8:51AM on 11/23/2011

Fright Night 3-D

Watching the remake was like looking through smoked glass. The image was so dark I had no idea what the vampire effects looked like till a scene when they used sunlight to illuminate it. It was the 3D version but the Regal Cinema was playing both versions in that same theater. So, at 11 am you had the 2D version and at 1:30 the 3D version. They obviously didn't switch the bulbs and it was really, really disappointing. It amazes me how companies continually lower standards yet constantly raise
Watching the remake was like looking through smoked glass. The image was so dark I had no idea what the vampire effects looked like till a scene when they used sunlight to illuminate it. It was the 3D version but the Regal Cinema was playing both versions in that same theater. So, at 11 am you had the 2D version and at 1:30 the 3D version. They obviously didn't switch the bulbs and it was really, really disappointing. It amazes me how companies continually lower standards yet constantly raise prices then wonder why their products are failing. *smh*
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+5
8:49AM on 11/23/2011
I went to see Immortals (in 2D) this past weekend, and it was both dark and fuzzy. Definitely hurt the overall movie experience.
I went to see Immortals (in 2D) this past weekend, and it was both dark and fuzzy. Definitely hurt the overall movie experience.
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8:47AM on 11/23/2011
I'm hip to the idea of cell phone blockers, and that there places that actually use them.

I haven't gone to see a 3D movie since Avatar, and the nearest IMAX is forty-five minutes away. I have a bigger beef with distribution, or lack thereof.
I'm hip to the idea of cell phone blockers, and that there places that actually use them.

I haven't gone to see a 3D movie since Avatar, and the nearest IMAX is forty-five minutes away. I have a bigger beef with distribution, or lack thereof.
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1:14PM on 11/23/2011
Yeah, unless, ya know, an emergency or something happens.
Yeah, unless, ya know, an emergency or something happens.
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