Cinema chains dimming movies "up to 85%" on digital projectors

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120 Responses to “Cinema chains dimming movies "up to 85%" on digital projectors”

  1. Miros says:

    So… not only are they destroying movies by turning them into blurry, headache-inducing garbage, but they’re also crapping all over the 2D version of them too?

    /slowclap

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s as if the big multiplexes aren’t even trying. Last time I went to a theater was last fall, In Cocoa, FL. It was a weekday afternoon and I had time to kill before flying home. The theater was about 85 degrees F inside. Some other patrons complained, and when they tried to turn on the A/C, the vents barfed mildew-smelling fog into the room. I walked out after a few minutes when it was clear the fungus fog wasn’t going to ease off before the main feature. Actually had to wake up the kid sleeping at the front desk to ask for my money back. No joke.

  3. Anonymous says:

    thin paper like LCD screens the size of a movie screen
    they are already being developed — check out engadget.com
    projecting colored light through air is going the way of the dodo bird

    for many of you i can tell you have no clue whats coming

  4. RyanH says:

    Is this actually a problem? Most theaters still don’t have 3D on every screen. The handful of 3D screens are typically the biggest in the theater. The ones that all the new releases get shown on.

    Now, how often is the big giant new release NOT 3D these days? Not that it is necessarily a good thing (Thor would have been fine not in 3D) but the fact is that 90% of what is going to be shown on the 3D enabled screens is in 3D.

    Sounds like someone ambushed a PR flack with a random question and their head-scratching answer is now a ‘news story’.

    Nothing to see here.

    • emmdeeaych says:

      RyanH – You say most of the screen are used for all 3D anyhow, but the article documents other conditions in theaters. You say “PR Flack”, but this is across a couple chains. Do they share a common OR Flack? Did you read the article? I can’t tell.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree this is not a problem. Most multiplexes are showing 3D movies on one or two 3D-only screens. The 2D digital/regular screens never use 3D lenses on their projectors. This type of story only brings more negativity to a world that needs to become more positive. It uses false generalizations, and not true facts, like maybe a survey to find out how many theaters are actually doing what they say they are doing, to bring comments from more people who just believe every negative story they hear.

    • adamnvillani says:

      “the fact is that 90% of what is going to be shown on the 3D enabled screens is in 3D.”

      Did you even read the article? In just the second paragraph, the reporter identifies 8 of a particular multiplex’s 19 screens as having this problem.

    • MatthewFabb says:

      RyanH: “Is this actually a problem? Most theaters still don’t have 3D on every screen. The handful of 3D screens are typically the biggest in the theater. The ones that all the new releases get shown on.” The theatres nearby where I live are getting close to half of the screens being 3D. Each year it’s more and more screens, because 3D has proven to be such a money maker. I personally rather seen films in 2D and it’s getting harder and harder to find screens playing some of the big releases in 2D. Now that shouldn’t be a problem for a movie that has a 3D counterpart, because they will show them in as many 3D screens as possible, so if I’m seeing it in 2D then it means it’s one of the 2D protectors. However, a regular movie that is just in 2D, my chances are around 50-50 that it will be with a 3D protector, with it increasing all the time as more of these get added.

  5. Gulliver says:

    MPAA: shooting itself in the collective foot as it tries to target the customer base its stomping all over.

    Yet another reason to avoid movie theaters. I can watch movies on my own digital projector and home-brew hi-fi and I don’t have to deal with schizophrenic air condition, superglue floors, damp uncomfortable seats, 3 year-olds screaming as an axe murderer tears through a town, high-schoolers in bellhop uniforms shining flashlights in my eyes every fifteen minutes, and airheads yakking on cellphones or texting with their display set to fifty-megawatt brightness. Oh, and instead of forking over the GDP of Luxemburg for soda made from syrup that’s been stored in a hot aluminum warehouse so long its aspartame and NutraSweet have decomposed to ectoplasma, I can enjoy a cold beer, fresh tortillas and popcorn with butter that tastes like it came from a cow’s milk instead of urine.

    • Jake0748 says:

      This is just some beautiful writing —>

      “Oh, and instead of forking over the GDP of Luxemburg for soda made from syrup that’s been stored in a hot aluminum warehouse so long its aspartame and NutraSweet have decomposed to ectoplasma, I can enjoy a cold beer, fresh tortillas and popcorn with butter that tastes like it came from a cow’s milk instead of urine.”

      I only actually LOL about once a year, but I was damn close when I read this. Thank you. :)

      • Gulliver says:

        I only actually LOL about once a year, but I was damn close when I read this. Thank you. :)

        You’re welcome.

        That’ll be 10.50 USD…13.50 if it was in 3D :P

  6. m2key says:

    Of course the most likely reason is cost/profit. In the olden days (I ‘member them well) each film required a projectionist, or at the very least more than one for a multi-screen theatre. Nowadays they usually have one multi-tasked employee scurrying between projection booths to start/end/reset the media and medium. Any extra activity that can be avoided, will be…

  7. Sijay says:

    *yoink*

    The sound of me grabbing the expression “weaponized butter” for future conversational use.

  8. MerrickB says:

    After spending more money going to see a two hour movie than I could say spending a good evening at a comedy club, I’ve pretty much given up the whole cinema going experience. I’d rather wait ’til it makes it to DVD/Blu-Ray anyway. My set up is certainly better than a movie theater’s. That and the butter doesn’t smell like a weapon of mass destruction when I pop the popcorn.

  9. JG says:

    Movie theaters are full of all sorts of awesomeness these days.

    Took a two- and five-year-old to see “Hop” a while back.

    We were treated to trailers for “Friends With Benefits,” which had people talking about casual sex, showed them disrobing and in bed together, “Thor,” which seemed rather scary and somewhat violent, and “Green Lantern” (similar concerns) in front of a PG-rated movie.

    I had a hard time impressing upon the manager why this might not be appropriate for children. So in addition to dimming the movies “up to 85%”, I’m going to have to say that they’re also dimming some of their staff by about the same amount.

    I don’t see the piracy bit. Generally speaking I don’t *need* to see most movies on the day they’re released. Movie theaters are motivating me to not pay $10.50 per ticket plus $3 for 3D for four people plus popcorn, drinks, etc. As it is, a family of four can easily cost $50 at the cinema. A nice TV with a nice collection of rented or purchased DVD/BR’s starts looking mighty attractive, it’s completely legal, and it prevents me from having to listen to some idiot manager justifying their business model.

    • Baldhead says:

      not sure about where you are, but Thor is PG here. Mind you i wonder about the sanity of the people who brought 2 and 5 year olds to see it at my screening… they left before it was a third over. What scared them? the volume. Theatres do seem to be getting louder and louder…

      • JG says:

        Baldhead,

        I’m sorry, but you misread my note. I took the kids to see “Hop”, which was strictly G rated. I was questioning the playing of trailers prior to “Hop” that were not really age-appropriate; some of the stuff in the “Thor” trailer was potentially frightening for a four- or five-year-old. I would normally expect trailers before a G-rated animated movie to be for similar future movies. I did not expect (or appreciate) the kids being exposed to a trailer for “Friends With Benefits,” which was clearly age-inappropriate, and if I had had older children along, I might have been placed in the position of having to provide some explanation to them. At a certain point (maybe between 8 and 14) kids start to be aware of things like sex and these new concepts like “Friends With Benefits.” For the younger kids, I don’t prefer to see them exposed to potentially frightening stuff (and when you’re a five year old girl, lots of things are frightening).

        Further, being the uncle of the five-year-old, I have to be sensitive to the parental wishes, and to be placed in an awkward position of having frightening/inappropriate stuff shown is very unpleasant to me. I’m no prude (we’re looking quite forward to The Hangover 2 for example) but I do believe in exposing kids only to things that are generally appropriate.

  10. Caroline says:

    Tickets just hit $10 here for regular adult admission to regular movies (add $3 for 3D). I realize they’re more expensive elsewhere, but $10 is clearly my psychological barrier. And I used to be able to get a student discount; now that’s not offered Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. (I’ve been sneaking in my own snacks since forever, so I’m not even mentally adding snacks into the cost. I can’t do anything but laugh at the idea of paying $7 for a little box of Skittles. I’ve always carried a big purse and bought candy at the grocery store on the way to the theater, if I even wanted candy.)

    Furthermore, there are just more and more loud commercials run before and after the lights go down. I used to be able to enjoy chatting with my husband or my friends before the movie started; now conversation is impossible. Add to that the problems everyone else has mentioned, and this crap about dimming the movies, and I am just done with the movie theater. No more going because I’m curious about a movie; no more going to see a movie just as something to do on Saturday night. It’s going to have to be a universally acclaimed masterpiece that absolutely must be seen on the big screen to get me to consider going to the theater.

    Of course, their response will be to raise prices further and squeeze as much money as they can out of the people who still go. Not to figure out what they could do to lower ticket prices, lower snack prices, make the viewing experience higher quality, and remove the annoyances they have control over.

    I love the movies. I’m going to miss the experience of seeing a movie on the big screen with full surround sound, being fully immersed in something wonderful. But I can’t afford to pay more and more and more for that all the time.

    • chgoliz says:

      Talking about sneaking in your own candy reminded me of one of the main reasons we don’t go out to movies as much any more: our closest cinema requires us patrons to open our coats for inspection and will search through every compartment of every bag/purse we bring in. They’re doing it to check for weapons and drugs, but they’ve said that they’ll take any contraband food or drink they find, too.

      Which really sets the mood on a Saturday afternoon at an animated film with your kids.

      • rydz says:

        That was perhaps the most visible and noticeable effect of 9/11 for me, living in Oregon at the time: all of a sudden the local theater chain realized they had an excuse to search people for contraband snacks and drinks, so they posted signs on the entrances saying they were now doing “safety inspections”. It was like the TSA, only even more obviously false pretenses.

        • Donald Petersen says:

          It was like the TSA, only even more obviously false pretenses.

          Some theaters don’t even bother pretending it’s for safety. A Mann theater in Glendale once bounced my wife for a burrito that was insufficiently hidden in her purse. And they’ve not gotten a nickel from us or our family and friends in the five years since. (Not even Mann’s Chinese, come to think of it.)

      • Caroline says:

        Wow, that REALLY sucks. I’m so sorry.

        I’m suddenly filled with gratitude that at least our multiplex theaters never tried to pull that kind of “security” b.s. so they could frisk everyone for contraband M&Ms.

        I always figured if challenged, I’d tell them I was prone to hypoglycemic attacks and therefore needed the snacks for medical reasons. (True, though candy isn’t really the best choice for me in that situation.) But I’m not sure that would fly if they were actively searching everyone.

        I think a “security checkpoint” would take away my last remaining consideration of going to the movies, even for really great films that would be worth the ticket price.

        • redesigned says:

          Although a fake “security checkpoint” would set the mood if they were reshowing the film “Airplane” or “Snakes on a Plane”! of course they would have to only sell extra-extra-small drinks. ;-)

        • Donald Petersen says:

          I’d tell them I was prone to hypoglycemic attacks and therefore needed the snacks for medical reasons.

          Aw, then they’d just point you to their well-stocked medicine cabinet / concession stand. They just don’t want you bringing stuff in that you could buy right there… cuts into their bottom line, since for decades now the whole industry has just been an overpriced snack-delivery system that happens to show movies to distract you from how much cash you’re blowing on a 45-cent box of Junior Mints, and a few pennies’ worth of stale maize, Dr Pepper syrup, CO2, and tap water.

          I used to live behind the Century 8 in North Hollywood. It’s a truly craptastic relic from the 70s, with Vegas carpeting and mirrors and graham-cracker walls (so you can hear every explosion from the Bruckheimer flick in Cinema 6 while you’re squinting at the quiet love scene in Cinema 5). But they had Red Vines instead of Twizzlers, both Mr Pibb and Cherry Coke, and halfway decent popcorn. Plus, weekday matinees before 5:00 used to be $4, so I used to go there just for cheap air conditioning. That’s why I wasn’t too outraged at Bad Boys II; since it cost me less than a half hour of pinball would and nobody cared if I put my feet up and caught 40 winks (though I, personally, would never) and I got to munch my favorite snacks in the shade on a 108-degree day, I got my money’s worth.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Sweet, now I’ve got no reason whatsoever to hit a cinema.

  12. dainel says:

    Ask for your money back.

  13. Todd Knarr says:

    I don’t know about piracy, but they’re sure driving me to wait for it to come out on disc. I’ve got a good large HD plasma set, a good sound system, the seats are more comfortable, the snacks are cheaper and better, I don’t have to deal with crying babies or cel phones, and now I get to avoid both 3D and a too-dim picture (both of which give me headaches and eye strain). Now, exactly what does the theater give me on the positive side again?

    Entertainment industry? Clue: making it as difficult, annoying and cumbersome as possible for customers to give you their money and get your product is probably not the route to increased sales.

  14. archmagetrexasaurus says:

    Digital projectors? And wikipedia seems to think that (something)x2048 is the fancy resolution?

    I’m a bit disappointed I can’t find out how terrible that looks at movie theater size without feeding money to some lame for-profit theater. Are they just expecting everyone’s vision to be worse from watching too much TV, so no one will notice the pixels?

    • teapot says:

      Digital projectors? And wikipedia seems to think that (something)x2048 is the fancy resolution?

      It is better than that for sure. You are right in that the majority of cinemas (98% market share according to Wikipedia) use 2K projection (2048×1556px), but there is 4K+ equiptment as well. There is little point upping the projector resolution when the cameras still only shoot at 4-5K at best. 4K is 4096×2160px
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Digital_Cinema_Camera_Company#Recording_formats

      Though it seems that Red Digital’s new Epic series camera will shoot up to a Moore’s-law-supporting 28K (28,000 × 9,334). That will set you back $53,000.

      Even at 2K, on a typical cinema screen every pixel only ends up being smaller than 1cm x 1cm. That would make 4K 400% smaller than that, meaning if you were close enough to see the pixels you would not be able to see the whole screen at once.

      I’m a bit disappointed I can’t find out how terrible that looks at movie theater size without feeding money to some lame for-profit theater.

      There are almost no thatres that are not “for-profit”. Indipendent does not equal non-profit.

  15. Grimnir says:

    I hate going to corporate chain theaters. They suck, and they’re 2-3 times as expensive as a brew n view. Screw Thor, I’ll go pay $4 to see The Muppet Movie in a huge, beautiful old theater with a balcony and beer and food also at reasonable prices, thanks. And when the whole audience sings along with Rainbow Connection, that’ll just be the icing on the cake. Alternately, I can go to the Hollywood and see awesome grindhouse classics like Master of the Flying Guillotine, or some arthouse film that’s probably only being shown in 15 theaters around the country.

    And if I REALLY want to see a flashy special effects extravaganza like Avatar and don’t want to wait for it to hit a second-run place, I can just go to one of the local first-run places, and it’ll still be cheaper than going to a poorly-run place with a half hour of ads, an increasing amount of ridiculous security, nothing I would want to eat at the concession stand, filled with dull suburbanites who inexplicably keep choosing to patronize corporations that are screwing them and their communities at every opportunity, even when they have other options (I pay AT&T and Comcast, but what choice do I have?).

    Of course, I live in east-side Portland. YMMV. Incidentally, I haven’t seen problems with the picture and sound at chain theaters in Portland, the 4 or 5 times I’ve been, and the one at the Lloyd Center at least never seems particularly understaffed. Could be they take the competition as seriously as they can, working inside a faceless people-eating machine that won’t let them do things to expand their business, like serve good beer and pizza and real butter. Theater projectionists elsewhere in the country are pretty fucking awful, though, in my experience.

  16. Skep says:

    Well, this sucks. One of the reasons to see a movie in 2D is for the improved brightness–especially since many “3D” movies weren’t shot in 3D. 3D added in post is the 3D equivalent of colorizing B&W movies–just say no.

  17. Donald Petersen says:

    Just wanted to mention one more thing about how we’ve kinda fetishized the moviegoing experience here in L.A. Not only do we have three (no, four, that’s right) high-end Arclight cinemas and an actual Silent Movie Theater that still shows actual silent movies to live organ accompaniment twice a month, but now there’s some high-end foolishness called Gold Class Cinemas where they really try to dial up the de Luxe treatment. It’s a true date-night thing; don’t even try to go to one of these joints by yourself. The seats are all in pairs, and are essentially fancy leather recliners. They even bring you a pillow and blanket! Dinner is served in the “lobby” (which is actually kind of a semi-informal dining area), and you can bring your food and hooch with you into the theater proper, accompanied by your waiter/usher who takes everyone in, two by two. And they take your orders for further snacks and drinks inside the theater. And the food is considerably fancier than you’d expect for a movie theater.

    It’s not a particularly “pure” moviegoing experience, since the waiters keep coming in and going out, as unobtrusively as humanly possible, but still… even though each pair of seats is several feet away from the others, you still notice the comings and goings. But for what it’s worth, the projection and sound are top-shelf… and they’d better be, since the price is not cheap. The one in Pasadena is booked pretty heavily for the next couple of weeks, especially on weekends, but I notice that you can get two tickets to Green Lantern at 6:15 on Friday June 17… for a cool $58.00. And nope, that don’t include the food or the drinks. But hell, it’s 3D, so you got that going for you. Which is nice.

    My wife and I tried it out for Avatar, and we had more fun than we expected… but we haven’t yet felt the urge to go back since. A dinner-and-a-movie date for two that happens to take place in one establishment and yet still runs well into three figures is a tad too rich for us, especially since we need a babysitter.

  18. tim says:

    Entertainment industry? Clue:

    [snip]

    Another clue they might like to consider – how about actually producing stuff with some actual entertainment value? Radical idea, I know but maybe it would work?

    • sten says:

      Yep, you can sum up the entire entertainment industry with one one: douchebags. Douchey is as douchey does.

  19. Anonymous says:

    You lot complain about $10 movie tickets? Seriously? We’re paying $18 here in Australia.

    That…. and petrol (gas) prices… (AUD$1.50/litre here; thats US$5.95/gal, in Europe it’s more like US$8.40/gal)

    You have it good. Quit whining.

  20. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Who’s supposed to change the equipment out? The only people working at the theater now are the ticket taker and the popcorn pimp.

    • bradmofo says:

      You’re right. I worked in cinema maybe 10 years ago and at that point the new screens only needed projectionists to push a few buttons. Nowadays in a new build, you can get away with floor staff taking projection shifts with hardly any training, and in some cases you can simply schedule the films for the day and press Play.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree 100%. I worked for National Amusements for 12 years. Near the end of my career, more focus was put on advertising and concession sales. They wouldn’t allow the trained projectionist to do their job. I was a projectionist, not just a button pusher, I knew how to tear down and rebuild a machine and what steps to take to put a quality presentaton on screen. Today the concern is not a quality presentation, but how much popcorn can be sold.

      • chgoliz says:

        This is news to me, and quite surprising.

        Back when I was involved in the industry (35mm, to date myself), professional cinemas were legally required to have a union projectionist. Reels were generally about 15-20 minutes long and set up took a few minutes, so you couldn’t manage more than a couple of films at the same time (and only if the projection booths were set up in close proximity).

        We consumers are paying more now, despite lesser quality AND cheaper payroll.

        • Donald Petersen says:

          About 15 years ago, a friend of mine managed an 8-screen AMC multiplex somewhere east of San Diego, and IIRC she told me the projectors utilized a kind of oversize platter reel system wherein the entire feature would be loaded and run at once, thereby eliminating the need for reel changes, and making it at least physically possible for all eight screens to be served by just one or two projectionists. Beginning of the end…

          Anyway, I’ve always loved going to the movies, and I’ve been lucky enough (in this regard, anyway) to live in L.A. for the last twenty years. There are enough bigshot directors and DPs out here who still like seeing movies in theaters that there are several theaters that simply can’t afford to display substandard picture and audio, for fear of getting negative word-of-mouth from Industry types. When I first moved here, the Chinese and the newly restored El Capitan theaters were my nearest neighbors, and Hollywood was just beginning to get itself renovated out of its 70s-80s squalor. The glorious Grauman’s Egyptian Theater was squeaking by as part of a UA triplex (Egyptians 2 and 3 were closet-sized venues next door), and showed second-run movies for a buck and a half a seat. It could have doubled its price and still been the cheapest show in town. I saw Freejack there with about forty other people scattered around a room built to hold over two thousand.

          But now the Chinese and the El Capitan are generally clogged with tourists (though their presentations are still excellent), and I prefer to go to the Arclight. Check out a handy list of reasons why here. I’m happy to pay an extra $3 or $4 just to avoid the sticky floor, unreliable projection quality, pre-feature advertorial slideshows, and that damned “Coca-Cola Young Filmmaker” thing they used to do. With the Arclight, you get reserved seating (4th row center, thank you), nothing but movie trailers before your feature, an attentive respectful staff, and as much as I love young people, I appreciate that the higher price tends to keep out families with small children and soccer teams out for a celebratory Adam Sandler flick.

          This is really the best part about living in L.A. If it weren’t for the Arclight, I’d just move back to San Diego. And on behalf of the entertainment industry, I apologize to the rest of the world for our crappy movies and crappier movie theaters out there. Vote with your wallet, but make sure to give the management both barrels if the sound sucks or the focus is soft or they “forget” to change out the 3D lens. I’d say the theater chains know their days are numbered, and if you let them know that you’re leaving and not coming back because their employees are simply too lazy or ill-paid to care, maybe there’s a chance they’d do something about it.

          When the Arclight opened in 2002, I loved it but felt sure it’d go out of business in six months, since nobody ever seemed to go there. But business quickly picked up through word of mouth, and they opened another location in Sherman Oaks four years ago, and then one in Pasadena last year.

          Treat people right and give them some decent product for their entertainment dollar, and maybe you’ll prosper. That’s my takeaway.

          • adamnvillani says:

            A commenter above responded affirmatively to talk of the Arclight with general praise for “indy” theaters, so I thought I should point out that the Arclight isn’t an independent theater. “Arclight” is the brand name that Pacific Theaters uses for their premium multiplexes where, like you said, they raise the ticket prices to keep out the riff-raff and then reward you with an extra level of service, better concessions, reserved seating, etc.

            There are now 4 Arclight locations in the L.A. area, one each in Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, Pasadena, and El Segundo.

            I worked for Pacific Theaters when I was a teenager (1990-1991) and always thought they tended to do a better job of presenting their films, though it varied from location to location.

          • GlenBlank says:

            IIRC she told me the projectors utilized a kind of oversize platter reel system wherein the entire feature would be loaded and run at once, thereby eliminating the need for reel changes

            Single-reel projectors that eliminate reel changes have been around for many, many years. I was a teenage usher in a theater that used them back in the early ’70s.

            The ‘platter’ systems, though, are (slightly, but only slightly) more recent. They put the entire made-up print on a flat horizontal platter that can feed from both the inside and the outside. This allows a single print to be used in several auditoriums at once.

            There’s an amusing YouTube video that demonstrates running a single 35mm print through 16 different projectors. Most multiplexes don’t get quite that carried away. :-)

            And, yeah, what you said about the Arclight. I rarely go to movies anywhere else these days. If my experiences at movie theaters were like those other commenters here have described, I probably wouldn’t go at all.

          • Donald Petersen says:

            There’s an amusing YouTube video that demonstrates running a single 35mm print through 16 different projectors.

            Wow! I didn’t realize until watching the video that it wasn’t just 16 projectors in a row, but 16 projectors scattered throughout a 16-screen theater, with hallways and stairs and doors in between. 2200 feet of leader… that’s over 1/3 of a mile! And the show starts in the first theater 20 minutes before it starts in the last!

            All I could think is “what a horrific abuse of the film stock.” Just because you can pull off such a feat doesn’t mean anyone should. Would it kill ‘em to rent an additional print?

            Yeah, I guess it probably would. I don’t know how much a first-release print rents for, but it’s gotta be thousands. Do those theaters that “interlock” like that pay extra for double-dutying the print?

          • Lt. Col. w00t says:

            The 16-projector interlock is a combination of stunt and demonstration, and the theater was closed when he did it. Notice how the film goes through sections of the lobby to get it done. Presumably it was worn out film-stock. Interlocking on more than two or three projectors isn’t done in reality, for scheduling reasons.

          • facetedjewel says:

            Yep, if the theaters here were more like the Arclight I’d go back once in a while, even though we have an HD television and a steady supply of movies from Netflix. There’s still something satisfying about watching a movie with a large group of avid and polite movie fans.

            But I think the ‘beginning of the end’ had more to do the the blurring of the divide between public and private spaces and how we were taught, or not, to behave in them. Libraries and movie theaters were spaces where our generation was taught to be respectfully quiet and nondistracting. Cheap mass publishing allowed us to import those spaces into our houses. They were ‘demystified’ there. Three other such spaces would be schools, churches and hospitals. We spoke there in hushed tones, hospitals had ‘quiet zones’. Is there any public space we hold in reverance now, any place where we feel collectively obligated to be respectful and sensitive to others?

          • Donald Petersen says:

            There’s still something satisfying about watching a movie with a large group of avid and polite movie fans.

            Amen. Maybe it’s because I only have a 46″ screen at home (no, Gramps, that ain’t so big these days), but I think the theatrical experience is ever so much more immersive, when done correctly. Not all of my local favorite theaters have 80-foot screens (just the Cinerama Dome, I think), but I am spoiled by all the decent theaters in my area. You ain’t seen Lawrence of Arabia if you ain’t seen it in 70mm.

  21. Cowicide says:

    Perhaps the film industry should keep pushing consumers to pirate movies until the industry’s entire source of revenue is through litigation against the public?

    They should stop releasing films officially at all and secretly “leak” torrents. Then sue everyone who watches them.

    • Gulliver says:

      Perhaps the film industry should keep pushing consumers to pirate movies until the industry’s entire source of revenue is through litigation against the public?

      I pretty much figure this is already their plan. Even they have to see the writing on the wall.

  22. gwailo_joe says:

    that. . .well, it sucks.

    and does not surprise a whit.

    nice tag tho’

  23. Anonymous says:

    I noticed this today when I was at a Regal Cinema! It was obviously very dimm.

  24. Bucket says:

    You think YOU have it bad, the last time I went to see a movie the MPAA SLIT my THROAT me and used my mangled CORPSE as a FLOTATION DEVICE.

    Then DRM brought me back as a ZOMBIE and fed me into a WOODCHIPPER.

    To top it off, the MILK DUDS were STALE.

    • lectio says:

      You think YOU had it bad? We had all of that and we didn’t even have Milk Duds! And we had to lick road clean wit’ tongue!

  25. ben ackerman says:

    I’m sorry, but “crippling DRM” is a horribly sensationalist way to paraphrase the following from the Boston.com article:
    “…issues with the Sonys are more than mechanical. Opening the projector alone involves security clearances and Internet passwords, “and if you don’t do it right, the machine will shut down on you.’’ The result, in his view, is that often the lens change isn’t made and “audiences are getting shortchanged.’’

    That is not DRM. That is security. You know, the same thing everyone was slamming Sony for not caring enough about two weeks ago?

    • Jake0748 says:

      Security clearances… to open up a fuckin movie projector, to change a fucking lens? Wow.

      Hey… Security Theater!!

      No, it isn’t DRM, its stupidity, paranoia, asshattery, and foolishness.

    • Cowicide says:

      That is not DRM. That is security.

      You may want to “look up” DRM before you speak any further on the subject.

    • Rindan says:

      That is not DRM. That is security. You know, the same thing everyone was slamming Sony for not caring enough about two weeks ago?

      I am pretty sure that hackers are not going to harvest any credit card data from 3D projectors. The “security” is there to keep people from copying the movie and absolutely nothing else. This is the very definition of DRM.

      Quote the first line of the Wikipedia article on DRM:
      Digital rights management (DRM) is a term for access control technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals to limit the use of digital content and devices.

    • Thorzdad says:

      Sorry, Ben, but the security setup on the Sony projectors is entirely about DRM. Especially with 3D, movies are delivered digitally. No film. The security process described is entirely about protecting the stored movie from being downloaded off the projector system. DRM.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, that’s exactly what DRM is. A security system implemented to protect digital content from copying. I don’t think that security is there to stop anything else, for example, someone stealing the projector.

    • redesigned says:

      That is not DRM. That is security. You know, the same thing everyone was slamming Sony for not caring enough about two weeks ago?

      ALL DRM is “security”. This security doesn’t protect the projector from being stolen or vandalized or blocked or etc. The locked projection room does that. The only thing this “security” does is protect their movie content from being removed from the projector and copied. Yeah, it is only because of DRM that they have those procedures.

      It also illustrates how far they will go to protect their OWN money and information, while they do a piss poor job of protecting YOUR money and information. It is more shameful, not less.

      • turn_self_off says:

        Indeed. Pretty much the same as how “trusted computing” is not about you being able to trust your computer to not mess up, but for third parties like Sony Pictures to trust your computer to not misbehave in their view.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Not that I want to sound like an ad or anything, but I don’t go to first run films at all any more. I go to the dollar movies (which is actually more like 2-3 bucks).

    To find one, try a search for “dollar movies” and the name of your town.

    The overall experience won’t be any better, but the screen will probably be brigher and the price will make you feel a little less violated.

  27. starbreiz says:

    Aha! So that explains it.

    I have a couple friends who will go see everything at the theatre, and I hate it. I always feel like I’m being antisocial, but I’ve been noticing the diminishing video quality of supposedly 3d imax films at AMC. Not to mention their lackadaisical attitude toward loud, rude people. Ushers just shrug at people on their cell phones. I have a large HD screen at home and blu-ray with 7.1 surround sound, and I can make healthy, inexpensive snacks in my kitchen. Why should I go to the theatre?

  28. Gulliver says:

    Security clearances… to open up a fuckin movie projector, to change a fucking lens? Wow.

    Hey… Security Theater!!

    Never mind. We’re even now. Thanks for the trade in kind.

  29. SuperDragonMaster79 says:

    Man I’ve always noticed this too!! Seeing Tron Legacy was like looking for my keys in the dark.

  30. Nawel says:

    Aw. I’ve experienced the dimmed movies thing here in Chile as well. I went to “The Rite” and it was VERY dark. On top of it, we were handed 3D glasses when we entered the room, and after 10 minutes or so of not noticing any effect and wondering what was wrong, an employee walks in and ask the glasses back since the movie wasn’t 3D. My guess is that it was the 3D room (hence we get the glasses on our way in) but the movie was 2D = dimmed movie.

    It all makes sense now.

    And yeah, the movie experience is pretty much dead these days. I hope some good theaters will survive.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I can attest to the fact that this is happening. AMC is all over New York and recently I have experienced dark dark DARK pictures via 2D films. So dark that during night scenes I cannot tell what the hell is happening and when I complain, I am told, “The film was shot that way.” Someone please sue. Some lawyer please sue sue sue.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Movies have been under-illuminated for a long time before this. Unfortunately most people can’t tell the difference unless they’ve experienced movies in places like LA’s Arclight theaters.

  33. monopole says:

    Personally, I’ve rigged a home theater out of a 50 lumen PK301 picoprojector (480p) coupled with an 80″ projection screen, and a 5.1 amp. Frankly, once the lights are off the experience is a considerable improvement over my theater experience this weekend. My system is considerably cheaper than a movie every weekend for a year.

    Given that the movie started 20 minutes late simply because the theater staff had forgotten about us I regretted not bringing my picoprojector and showing my own trailers.

  34. rain_globule says:

    Well that is a good thing as far as I am concerned, bright lights hurt my eyes. I go to AMC theaters all the time and haven’t noticed any films that were noticeably dim and neither did you.

  35. YarbroughFair says:

    I knew it! We got free tickets after I complained about how dark dark Underworld:Rise of the Lycans was; we couldn’t see a thing.

  36. Bleepo says:

    It’s sad the way the art of presenting a show has diminished in the average theater. There is an incredible difference between attending a movie at the AMC 25 in Times Square, NYC (where there is literally 1 projectionist in charge of 25 screens, and I recently walked out of a showing of “Inception” because the sound system was tuned to earth-shattering, shrill loudness, so many audience members were watching the thing with their fingers in their ears, even during the quiet parts) and the ARC Cinema in Hollywood (where the projectionist introduced himself before he started to present “The Social Network”, and asked the audience to kindly let him know if there was ANY problem with the sound or picture). Thank goodness we still have theaters like the ARC in LA, NY’s Film Forum, My apologies for any offense or misconceptions that may have occurred, to both of you. or the Coolidge Corner in Boston, to remind people what a quality film presentation should actually be like. The Jr. High AV squad member still within me bristles when I’m forced to endure less.

  37. Bleepo says:

    Ahem. It’s sad the way the art of presenting a show has diminished in the average theater. There is an incredible difference between attending a movie at the AMC 25 in Times Square, NYC (where there is literally 1 projectionist in charge of 25 screens, and I recently walked out of a showing of “Inception” because the sound system was tuned to earth-shattering, shrill loudness, so many audience members were watching the thing with their fingers in their ears, even during the quiet parts) and the ARC Cinema in Hollywood (where the projectionist introduced himself before he started to present “The Social Network”, and asked the audience to kindly let him know if there was ANY problem with the sound or picture). Thank goodness we still have theaters like the ARC in LA, NY’s Film Forum, or the Coolidge Corner in Boston, to remind people what a quality film presentation should actually be like. The Jr. High AV squad member still within me bristles when I’m forced to endure less.
    (As it should have read, minus a stray phrase that HA got pasted in there from an earlier letter by mistake).

    • Gulliver says:

      the ARC Cinema in Hollywood (where the projectionist introduced himself before he started to present “The Social Network”, and asked the audience to kindly let him know if there was ANY problem with the sound or picture).

      We still have the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema here in Austin and more recently a few others across Texas. Maybe it’s a cliché, but indy theaters do seem to be a lot more customer oriented. Now if only we had indy airlines…

  38. Sekino says:

    And THEY DON’T SERVE GLOSETTES ANYMORE!!! D:

  39. Antinous / Moderator says:

    You need twice as much light at 50 as you do at 25 to see the same thing. 3D movies are barely visible to me. If the 2D movies are just as bad, there’s really no reason to go.

    Since moving to Arrakis, the movie-going experience has been terrible. I’ve walked out of half a dozen movies because the lens was shot and the film looked smeary. If that happened in San Francisco, there’d be a riot. Down here, nobody seems to notice.

    • petsounds says:

      Since moving to Arrakis, the movie-going experience has been terrible. I’ve walked out of half a dozen movies because the lens was shot and the film looked smeary. If that happened in San Francisco, there’d be a riot. Down here, nobody seems to notice.

      So, would it be fair to say that, where films are concerned, no one much causes a ruckus in Arrakis?

  40. Dave H says:

    Last movie I saw in a theater was TROY.

    Got fed up with the lousy sound, crap commercials (in addition to the crappy previews), expensive pop flavored cups of ice, and stale popcorn with what seemed to be dollar store imitation WD-40.

    Looks like things have not improved.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Prediction: The future of cinema is equivalent to the future of theatre. Niche entertainment for the social experience.

    Anyone who wants only to see the movie will do so at home.

    Chick flicks will be the first to vanish from the big screen.

    Ironically, this will make “going to the movies” back into an event. Cinemas that embrace this status will eventually be better off. If they host parties for kids’ movies, and provide better quality adult refreshments, they will position themselves better.

  42. godfathersoul says:

    I love movies. I love the big fucking IMAX movies and I think they and their megawatt soundsystems are one of the pinnacles of consumerist culture. I love going to movies with tons of effects and magic and archetypes. I never go to the latest date romance testosterone flick because those are crap. They always have been. But Dark Knight Rango X-men Harry Potter Pirates Thor… Sure thing.

    The theater down the street from me (sadly no IMAX and really just reasonable sized screens) is $4 on Tues and Thurs and all matinees are 6 bucks. The seats are reasonably comfortable. The screen and sound system are better than what I’ve got. For a treat, maybe we’ll go to the Arclight or Mann’s if the movie is really something….

    I just had to share that because all these commenters sounded like a bunch of pissy old farts who would rather complain here about movie theaters and why they suck.

    I’ll download Thor later but it sure was cool on the big screen.

    Granted, dim movies suck but I haven’t witnessed it…. And usually a theater has only so many 3-d movies so they all get shown on the same screen(s)

  43. sflogicninja says:

    I would rather they dim the volume.

    I saw Thor in the theater.

    My SPL meter read an average of about 100db.

    Glad I had earplugs. Sucked that I had to use them. Again.

    I am going to campaign against this. You can lose your hearing listening to movies at that volume.

    Also, I have noticed some movies being dimmer in 2d, and since I lack binocular vision, this could be a problem. *sigh*

  44. Ugly Canuck says:

    The last time I went to a cinema I was astonished to see that the movie was being projected onto a cinder-block wall which had been painted cinema white or grey or whatever – the mortar lines were visible in all close-ups!

    I love movies, but I haven’t been out to the cinema for years and years.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Theatres have been doing this as standard with 35mm prints forever – dialing things back to 80% to save on bulbs, and also running the sound quieter to save the speakers and prevent ‘print-through’ sound between thin walled plexes!

    As a filmmaker I know that the only way you’ll see and hear things as intended is when you screen your test-print at the film lab, or if it gets into an A-list festival (and they take screening very seriously).

    Sad but true.

  46. senorglory says:

    nobody show this story to Roger Ebert.

  47. Daemon says:

    On the other hand, a great many movies are ruined by being made.

  48. jonoj says:

    The past 3 times I have been to the cinema (I don’t go as often nowadays) I have been appalled at the quality of the projected image. In 2 movies I made complaints, one film; Shrek 3 in 2d I felt compelled to make a comment to staff twice. That particular film was very dull as if the brightness was turned down and the colours all toned right down also. The response from staff was “it’s a result of projecting an analog film through a digital projector, there’s nothing we can do about it they come like that”
    I knew something wasn’t right, and this explains it.
    I was that unimpressed I recall commenting to my wife that a dodgy pirate copy watched at home on a DVD player would (very likely) have been far, far, superior in quality!!

    If this is how the paying movie-goer is to be treated to a £50 lay out for a family night out, forget it.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Sony needs to be barred from operating in the U.S. They used to be a good company but no more. Put them out of business.

  50. Muneraven says:

    Movie theaters wouldn’t even still exist if teenagers didn’t need a place to get away from their parents and if parents didn’t need something to do with their small children that requires very little actual interaction but still qualifies as “family time”.

  51. Anonymous says:

    I worked as a projectionist for 3 years at two AMC locations. Let me shed some light on this as I have dealt with two theaters who are converting to all digital and use 4 different types of digital projectors.

    First, not all 3D screens leave the lens in front. Some are very easy to move, some however are very difficult to move. A lot of the Zscreens are either on a swing arm, or on a track that slides out of the way. Most theaters have these systems, which is why its not acknowledged that its a problem. Because its not. The only time a 3D screen is hard to move is when its either an older technology, or improperly installed. Some projectors do have the 3D lens, and not a screen, and that is nearly impossible to change between shows. Its impractical.

    All digital theaters and especially 3D screens are actually silver coated. Go up close to the screen next time you are in a 3D movie and you will see that its slightly reflective and gray, not white. This boosts the gain on the image making it brighter to cope with the polarized light of the 3D. 3D looks like crap on a white screen, thus why theaters use silver screens. Some digital projectors use brighter bulbs to cope with the polarization as well. A screen that may normally use a 2k bulb will instead use a 4k bulb in a 3D installation.

    The DRM is a bitch. No one will argue with that. However, its really not as bad as it seems. To turn on a sony projector, you literally flip a few breakers and log in to the computer. There are no special settings to mess with on a regular basis. Downloading the movie is a pain, but its easier than taping together film. Its in the step of loading the keys and piecing together the trailers and snipes where it becomes a problem. Again though its not that hard after you have done it a few times. DRM has nothing to do with the lens changes. NOTHING… On Christie systems, changing format is 1 press of a button. A lens change is purely mechanical and has no DRM associated with the calibration. DRM has only to do with the hard drive they ship the film on.

    Its not a problem as you are making it out to be. Having watched hundreds of movies in both film and digital, I can assure you that loss of light is not a problem. The problem with film these days is on the end of the film maker. High quality Digital projectors (Christie Digital is fantastic) are wonderful and better at 99 of 100 things than 35mm projectors. The people whining about resolution know nothing about 35mm film and how the eye resolves images.

  52. Anonymous says:

    The main problem with declining quality in cinema can be laid firmly at the feet of the chain’s head-office. I work as a projectionist for a large chain in the UK and basically I can tell you that they DON’T care at all. My cinema has 14 screens and until early afternoon and from about 8pm onwards there is usually only one of us on duty at any time. This is due to the ever reducing hours they budget us for which in turn is down to their attempts to squeeze an extra few pence at any cost.

    Examples…they reduced the in-booth lighting to a minimum, removed work spotlights and replaced them with dim energy-saving bulbs and so on, making our job that little bit harder. And if something goes wrong with a projector, you have to try and fix it, whilst managing 13 other screens as well.

    But their crowning glory was when they converted a screen. They basically turned the stadia ninety degrees and used a bigger wall for a screen. Apparently, nobody in charge thought to consider such basic questions as “How will that affect the aspect-ratio?” Their only goal was making the screen larger. And when it was all done and the head-office guy was down to watch the first movie, he was upset to find unused portions of the screen at the top and bottom during a scope-ratio presentation. His solution to this problem? Zoom the picture so that fills the entire screen. I kid you not! So instead of unused protions of the screen, you had lost screen image instead, since the left and right extremes of the picture were zoomed beyond the extent of the screen. No amount of argument by us, the projectionists, could sway them.

    So when you find something wrong on your next visit to the cinema, please don’t blame the on-site staff. We often have little choice in how pleasant your experience is, or isn’t. Like the actors you watch on the screen, our “script” is only as good as the people who write it, in our case, head-office suits who have no interest in anything other than making money.

    As for the dimming effect, 3D movies will always be dimmer. The image has to go through the polarising filters at the projector and then again through the glasses you wear. However, there shouldn’t be an issue with 2D films. The image SHOULD be noticeably brighter, not dimmer. Our projectors use an external filter system which moves out of the way of the lens at the touch of a button. If its left in place during a 2D presentation the image will be slightly dimmer, but I’d take exception with the 85% figure quoted. If it was that bad you wouldn’t see anything!

    Declining quality is one of the reasons why I almost never visit the cinema myself anymore. I’d rather wait for the DVD or Blu-ray and watch it at home.

  53. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorely tempted to rant about how much better 35mm film is compared to digital. Where changing the lens is a case of turning one bolt with an allen key (and if you don’t, you get the wrong aspect ratio which nobody’s going to miss). As someone training to project the old fashioned way now, I find it strange to think that I’m probably towards the last that will do so, and that its a skill that will probably be obsolete in a few years. (Don’t worry, its a hobby at my local student cinema, not a job).

    Tl;dr, film is better than digital get off my lawn.

  54. Anonymous says:

    umm. I call Bullshit. I know this technology. Its not the lenses that are causing the dimming.It’s a device called a Z-screen that is being left on during the display of 2D movies. It will dim the output of the projector. All they have to do is pull the plug on the device.

    A “Z screen” is essentialy an electronic polarizer. It sits in front of the projector lens and alternately polarizes each frame to correspond with left and right images that make up the 3d image. This happens at 144 times a second. The polarized glasses you wear passively sync to the output of the polarized images. So left eye sees the left frame only and the right eye sees the right frame only. They are alternating so fast your brain perceives it as 3D image.

  55. dougr650 says:

    I hate to be the one coming to the defense of the movie theaters, but has anyone on here actually personally witnessed this problem? I see a lot of movies in a lot of different theaters, including AMC and Regal, and have never experienced a 2D movie that seemed dimmer than usual.

    I know we all like to get on our high-horse once in a while and denounce the evils of an entire industry, particularly one that has screwed us over as much as the movie industry, but is this an actual problem or just sensationalism?

    • MatthewFabb says:

      dougr650: “I hate to be the one coming to the defense of the movie theaters, but has anyone on here actually personally witnessed this problem?”

      A friend of mine recently saw a 2D movie on a digital screen that was really washed out and dim and he couldn’t understand why. It was a movie he had already seen before, so he knew how it should have looked. Now hearing about this issue, it makes sense to him what was happening.

  56. billstewart says:

    There’s at least one reason you should go to a real movie theater and see a movie in 3D – it’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”, Werner Herzog’s documentary of the Chauvet cave art in France. Herzog got permission to film the cave for a couple of days, went in and said “wow, this has to be in 3D, how are we going to make *that* work?” The art’s about 30,000 years old, and it’s absolutely stunning.

    • chgoliz says:

      I absolutely agree that Cave of Forgotten Dreams is stellar and unique and a must-see. Truly, 3D put to its best use.

      Having said that: I’ve never had a sensory/headache problem with 3D movies the way some on this site have experienced, but I was actually queasy during a significant portion of this movie and it took me a few hours afterward before I started feeling normal again.

      I’m very glad I saw Cave, but the physical effects were difficult to endure. They wouldn’t have been worth it for a lesser movie.

      • Anonymous says:

        Okay, I’m going to have to be the one to say that Cave of Forgotten Dreams is overrated. And I say that as a complete Herzog-phile who saw Fitzcaraldo in theaters (Westwood, no less!) on it’s initial release. It’s sub-par for a Herzog documentary, and doesn’t really say much of anything illuminating about its subject. I thought it dragged on forever, and with every agonizing fade to black I hoped the claustrophobia would end, but then to my dismay yet another random shot of the same cave painting would pop on screen…and then slowly fade to black. It was like being caught in a fever dream. I love Herzog’s work, but I think it’s simply become fashionable to gush over this film. Herzog’s interview on NPR alongside Cormac McCarthy was much more fascinating than the film, and I wish he had said as much in the film’s narration about his subject as he did in that interview.

        Also, much of the 3D in the film is post process, and sorry guys, but the matte was glaringly visible. Because the 3D process involved those infuriating liquid crystal shutter glasses, I was soon having olfactory hallucinations and terrific headaches. I took my glasses off and was stunned by how much brighter the image was. I guarantee that when Peter Jackson releases the next hobbit film in Maxivision48, people will ditch their 3D glasses as the desperate technically-feeble craze that it is.

  57. hadlock says:

    I like how you managed to put an “anti-big business” spin on this. This is simply a problem that theaters will have to overcome via procedures. Have you ever seen a small airplane with BIG RED FLAGS hanging off the airspeed indicators? So you don’t forget to take them off? The guy who invented the air speed indicator cover probably didn’t have big eye catching flags on there at first.

    Those motorcycle locks that thread through the rotor? They have a day-glo orange leash that you hang over the throttle. I bet the inventor didn’t have the leash to remind you to take it off until the second or third time he had it smash into the caliper.

    I worked at an arthouse theater as a projectionist for a while. If you were lucky enough to see “The Good German”, you saw it on real B&W stock with made silver hallide. This is very different from modern film stock, which is essentially transparency plastic printed with a high quality inkjet. It gummed up our projectors because modern film doesn’t have loose particles that can flake off.

    The point of the story is, when you introduce new or unfamiliar technology to the projection room, it takes time to introduce new procedures. It takes additional time to train your high school graduate managers, and it takes even longer to whip it in to the brains of your hormone-charged highschool age projectionists.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      This is simply a problem that theaters will have to overcome via procedures…It takes additional time to train your high school graduate managers, and it takes even longer to whip it in to the brains of your hormone-charged highschool age projectionists.

      Does that work in restaurants, too? Should I pay for a meal not-quite-cooked by a chef who hasn’t figured out yet how the stove works?

  58. bkad says:

    Why is every article about movie theaters an invitation for people to complain about movie theaters and explain (with unusual passion) why they don’t care about movie theaters anymore?

  59. VSpike says:

    I have small children, and I enjoy going to the cinema with them to watch the big movies. It’s an experience. Also, it sounds like my local cinemas are not too bad compared to everyone else’s.

    It does make me wonder though; you guys complaining about the ticket prices and soda prices, then saying you’ll watch it at home on your huge plasma/home theater system, how much did you pay for those systems? Plus you still have to fork out a fair amount for the new release Blu-Ray discs too.

    Having a regular 32″ (or whatever the current sweet spot for TV size/price ratio is) for watching TV and occasional DVDs at home, then paying out for movie tickets a few times a year seems like quite good value in comparison.

    My only wish is that there were a few more IMAXs in the UK.

  60. mn_camera says:

    I’ve also been to a couple local houses where two theaters were made from one by splitting off the balcony.

    In both cases, one of the two resulting rooms had a projector that was not square to the screen, resulting in both keystoning and part of the image being out of focus.

    Theater owners do crap like this because they know most people will not ask for their money back. It’s one of the industries where it’s possible to promise a lot and deliver almost nothing with near-impunity.

    I simply don’t go to theatrical movies any longer, and don’t really miss them when I look at the drivel being released.

  61. Dr_Wally says:

    The amount of dissatisfaction with movie houses in this thread is staggering. Come to Australia! There is a resurgence of classy, refurbished movie houses that are licensed to sell alcohol, have great equipment and a wider choice of snacks. Check out the Elsternwick Classic as an example.

  62. Aargh-a-Knot says:

    Movie theaters are losing their relevance, and fast. I have a pretty nice Home Theater set up, and I honestly just don’t want to ever go see a movie at a public theater. OK, every once in awhile, a movie will be worth driving 3 hours to Kansas City to see on the big screen. Last one was Avatar. Otherwise, I just wait for the BluRay, and enjoy the movie in my own space, with my own food, drink, and smoke.

  63. Anonymous says:

    Thor was SO DARKK….so dark…

  64. Anonymous says:

    I used to be a home theater installer (the good kind that would spell it ‘theatre’) and have wasted more time with calibrations than I would like to admit but this is glaringly obvious. You should be able to distinguish between light and dark parts of an image on screen in a movie. If you can’t you need to complain to get it right or get it free. You wouldn’t order a steak dinner and then get served a slice of grilled bologna and pay for a filet mignon. It should be the same for a theater, as you are paying a premium for the experience. I definitely can tell the difference right away as this has happened to me on an afternoon when I went to see Avatar when that came out. Apparently, I made the mistake since I lodged a modest complaint and got some free tickets. I thought it was an honest mistake. If I found out it was policy I would have started a RIOT. It’s a bigger pain in the ass to have to deal with a theater full of people exiting who will also have noticed the movie was dark than it will to get the projector jerk to properly use the 3d lense.

  65. Anonymous says:

    Yup. Saw a screening of Inception like this and when I complained the manager just said “looks fine to me- it’s digital!”. Image also had vignetting, was soft and had a double image at times, particulary noticable on the credits. But most of the audience seemed fine with it- what do I know!

  66. Anonymous says:

    It’s more than a bit sad to see so much hate for movies that are all misguided.

    This is nothing more than a theatre choice and they have always done this except at marquee theaters such as Mann’s Chinese.

    Projection bulbs are expensive. One the order of a few thousand dollars(They are also very thin glass envelopes under extreme vacuum, ie implosive)

    The SMPTE open gate projection specification is 16fl for a film projector, to save money on power and bulbs it was possible for theaters to never turn up the power on a bulb as it ages, leaving it common for the light out put to be 8-10 fl.

    Knowing how the projectors work, there should be little light drop by leaving the 3d lens in. The lenses work by splitting the imaging chip into 2 2048×1556 image planes. they are aligned on the screen in 2d mode to match. So you are loosing a VERY small amount of light since you are using both left and right polarization. There is NO REASON AT ALL TO THROW AWAY HALF THE LIGHT even using the 3d lens in 2d mode. The sony system uses two lenses. if the projectionist in the story is simply putting a lens cap on one lens to get 2d he needs to learn about the system he is running. The exact same amount of light can be achieved on the screen but PRESSING THE CORRECT PRESET BUTTON ON THE PROJECTOR CONTROL PANEL. On son sony systems the polarizers don’t ‘throw away ‘ half the light on a 2-d movie because they become clear when turned off(put in 2d mode) If the light level is wrong the projector was set up wrong, or the theater owner asked to same money on the expensive bulbs.

    It is NOT a massive conspiracy, it has nothing to do with DRM. It has to do with the proper installation and operation. The article is basically a few technical people talking about worst case situations where equipment was installed an used improperly.

    While they are talking about operator error I’m surprised there was no mention of using the silver screen on a 2d film.

  67. daev says:

    Sony needs to be barred from operating in the U.S. They used to be a good company but no more. Put them out of business.

    I SOOOOO want to hate sony for this, but it’s not their fault. This time, anyway.

    But really, is this anything new? All sorts of companies have been doing the “give them the minimum that keeps them coming back” routine for ages. It’s cost:benefit::yours:theirs. This even applies to employees. The logic is “will the number of people we piss off be worth less than what we’re making?” Wireless providers have been at that game for ages, presumably so they can say things like “Hey Randall! I pissed off more people than you did this quarter and our stocks went UP!”

    But the beatings will continue until the morale improves, so you might as well just stop going. It won’t change until you do.

    I gave up back at the “who cares what it’s about as long as the kids go” stage.

  68. Bleepo says:

    I guess the point for me is that we are in a golden age of possibilities for high quality images and sound, and it is squandered time and time again simply because of laziness or poor tuning on the part of the presenters. Like Godfathersoul, I LOVE going to the movies and prefer to be in a crowd of people enjoying a show in a quality cinema to being at home, even with a good system.

  69. AnthonyC says:

    I typically go to the movies about once a year. I recently discovered a movie theater near me, though, that shows movies a month or two after their release… for $1 a ticket. I haven’t been there yet, but it has excellent reviews.

    The main multiplex near me is actually quite nice, I must say. They even have real food. Why, you can get chicken fingers, fries, and a soda for only $17.50. Yes, really.
    And that’s what confuses me. I understand movie theaters don’t make money on tickets, at least not at first. But I can go to a real restaurant, sit for an hour and a half, and eat a full meal for $10-$15, made by real cooks in a real kitchen. How hard could it be to serve real food in a theater at a reasonable price?

  70. Anonymous says:

    They’re probably not actually dimming by 85%. Stereo movies are about 85% darker because they’re being polarized 2x, once with the filter on the projector, and once with your 3D glasses. So, if they are in fact leaving the polarizer on, you’d lose closer to 50% of the light.

    A perfect filter would actually only dim it by 75%, 50% of the light from the first filter and 50% of that light from the filter on the glasses. Measured results though show typically 80-85% of the light than without the filters.

    That being said, movie theaters are probably more likely to dim the bulb in the projector than they are to leave the filter on. It’s very easy to remove the filter, and certainly improves the movie watching experience. There’s probably no good reason for them to leave it on. However, if they dim their bulbs, the projector bulb will last longer and hence they will have to replace their bulb less often, saving them money. Leaving the filter on doesn’t save them any money, so if they do that, its probably because they’re inept or straight up lazy.

  71. Jake0748 says:

    Well… aint that just dandy. FTW.

  72. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think they understand the concept of CwF + RtB. They are giving customers a reason NOT to buy their product.

  73. Anonymous says:

    Humph. I think I’ll just go outside and look at some trees and junk (at 100% original, non-polarized brightness.) — Mattoichi

  74. Anonymous says:

    It’s kind of ironic that a technology – 3D – that’s supposed to draw audiences back into the movie theaters may end up driving them out!

    But most people won’t resort to piracy, because most people don’t know how to download torrents and don’t want to watch movies on their PCs.

    They’ll instead resort to Redbox, cable, satellite, netflix, etc. – basically all the things that have already been eating into movie theater profits and will continue to do so.

    • turn_self_off says:

      But most people won’t resort to piracy, because most people don’t know how to download torrents and don’t want to watch movies on their PCs.

      only takes a enterprising family member of friend and a feature-full dvd/blu-ray player…

  75. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, I do not go the cinema anymore. It’s a complete ripoff. Between screaming kids, cell-phone talkers, poorly configured sound systems and now this? Why would I drop 20 dollars on tickets, 10 on pre-popped overly salty “buttered” pop-corn, and another 10 on disgusting sugary drinks?
    I have a decent home theater. I’ll wait till Thor Bluray is under 20 bucks, buy it and have some friends over.

  76. theawesomerobot says:

    I’ve always wanted to open up a small one or two screen theater – but it looks like all this BS may kill the idea of theaters before I get a chance. This makes me sad.

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