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New Theater in NYC

Lower East Side Independent film 35mm Digital

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#1 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 04:15 PM

Check this out.  A new indie theater is set to open on Manhattan's Lower East Side featuring both digital and 35mm projection.

 

Metrograph


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#2 James Compton

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 05:06 PM

 Nice. That place could be very useful for an upstart filmmaker looking to 4-wall a theatrical debut.


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#3 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 07:09 PM

 Nice. That place could be very useful for an upstart filmmaker looking to 4-wall a theatrical debut.

It sounds like it's going to be another Quad or Film Forum.   4 Walling is pretty expensive at both of those.  Not an option for most and Not really a replacement for The Pioneer Cinemas on Ave A.  Which showed ultra indie films.

 

I think we need a chain of small indie theaters similar to Anthology Film Archives on 2nd.  I don't mean equipment that's specifically meant to show expensive standard DCP harddrives etc.  I mean just basic decent 1080p projection and good surround sound.  

 

That kind of investment won't require immediately aligning with Angelika or BAM and closing out access to unknown filmmakers who can't afford it.

 

A small chain of tiny theaters with good projection and sound would make a ton of money given how many filmmakers need a venue to screen.  In rentals alone they'd do well, never mind the typical neighborhood foot traffic business.

 

But we're talking about NYC.  I don't think this would work in White Plains. Williamsburg Brooklyn however, yeah.


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#4 John E Clark

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 11:23 AM

A small chain of tiny theaters with good projection and sound would make a ton of money given how many filmmakers need a venue to screen.  In rentals alone they'd do well, never mind the typical neighborhood foot traffic business.

 

But we're talking about NYC.  I don't think this would work in White Plains. Williamsburg Brooklyn however, yeah.

 

In San Diego there is an entity which has a small projection theater. I think they are exclusively HD digital. They show a number of films 'you never heard of'... and because of the proximity to Mexico, they have an audience for Spanish language films from Mexico and points south.

 

I'd say most 'college' towns could support something like that... for some value of 'college' bigger that Bugtussel U.


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#5 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 05:02 PM

Metrograph is open!   I got tickets to Purple Rose of Cairo.  That'll be meta to see in an actual theater.   Also Jean Eustache's The Mother & The Whore.  Psyched at the lineup.  Seems like a revival house for now.  Todd Hayne's Carol is the most recent film screening.  At least it's in 35mm.


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#6 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 05 March 2016 - 03:28 PM

Report from the first day of Metrograph:

 

I was a little underwhelmed by this whole experience.  A rather dirty, dark and cold lobby.  Cheerful and welcoming staff however so I was happy about that.  Overpriced artisinal snacks.  

 

I want to go easy on the tech review but I remember recently bashing the "theater going experience" here and once again, I have more reason to say, just stay home.

 

In defense of Metrograph, I will chalk it up to them "working out the kinks" so I'll cut them some slack.  It was day one.  I got tickets to the 10pm of Purple Rose of Cairo.  Great seats in a tiny little theater.  The seats looked handcrafted and brand new.  That was awesome.  Though the rows were uncomfortably tight so that leaving your aisle would have been  awkward for those you'd have to lapdance on your way out.  Which kept me from getting up and complaining about 1 minute into the screening...

 

The movie started and right away my heart sunk as I saw the credit for: A Jack Rolllins Charles H Joffe Production, was not centered.  It was way too low on the screen.  Not surprising since there were no previews.  It's a retrospective house.  Most projectionists would center the image using previews with a greenband MPAA preview logo.

 

But this was a tell tale sign that nobody really knew what they were doing up there.  Cause nobody corrected the problem and the movie began with far too much headroom.  It was a print where there was no 1:85 blackbar burned in so we had potential to see boom poles and lights rigged overhead etc.  I didn't notice anything and eventually forgot about it.

 

The reason I forgot that this was the first time I saw a print of the film and it was like seeing it for the first time.  A very nuanced image of the movie that was refreshing.  While I liked the wider color palette, it was very contrasty and there was almost no detail in the shadow areas at all.  It was also very dirty.  And fell out of focus a lot.

 

When the 3rd reel started we lost most of the audio.  It sounded like it was a put through a wet blanket.  But the audience sat respectfully quiet while we struggled to hear it.  This went on for about 10 minutes.  Then, we lost picture.  We sat there for a while till they fixed it and the movie started back up again with audio.  It managed to play normal for the rest of the show.

 

After that there were a few seemingly off splices that again, screwed up the headroom.  But overall, it wasn't a trainwreck.  It just was not worth $15.  So, yeah, Is film really worth it in the end?  Maybe but you have to respect the medium and really go for it and book a union projectionist that knows what to look out for with an older print.  Hopefully they'll figure this out before the next film I see there.


Edited by Michael LaVoie, 05 March 2016 - 03:35 PM.

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#7 Manu Delpech

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Posted 06 March 2016 - 05:13 AM

Ouch, love what I read about it, but this sounds disappointing, working out the kinks probably as you say. They seem to have a great spirit and a great location though.


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#8 JD Hartman

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Posted 06 March 2016 - 07:35 AM

Artisinal snacks......cramped seats, poor sound, etc., did you find the manager after the screening?


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#9 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 06 March 2016 - 11:49 AM

I didn't look for the manager.  I figured I'd send a friendly email suggesting some solutions.  When I was a projectionist way back, I ordered some print cleaners that would sit right above the projector and they'd clean the print before it goes through the gate.   It took a little while for the corporate office to approve the order.  It was a bit of an expense but really worth it.   This is probably a good idea for Metrograph if they don't have it already.  

 

Also, the aperture bands need the proper tension to avoid parts of the image being out of focus.  Splicing between reels is a tougher one as I don't know if they're using side by side projectors and going reel by reel or if they have a platter up there in the booth.  Platters are easier as you only thread the projector once and then you leave it alone till the show's over.  So if they're "building" using a makeup table and loading the whole movie onto a platter, they can make sure the splices all line up as it's built and there's less chance of it losing center.  Though you have to sometimes sacrifice frames and start fresh with new cuts.   If you don't you run the risk of it slipping or breaking.

 

There is an "experience" to attending a movie theater and all sure.  But the primary reason you're there is to screen a film.  So having it play flawlessly is not asking too much.  It's all they need to do.  That's not secondary or an afterthought.  It's the whole point.


Edited by Michael LaVoie, 06 March 2016 - 11:50 AM.

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#10 JD Hartman

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Posted 06 March 2016 - 12:10 PM

Did they sell wine at the snack bar as well?  What would artisinal snacks be? 

 

Maybe screening film and an enjoyable experience is secondary since as you described they are packing people into cramped seats like passengers on an airplane.


Edited by JD Hartman, 06 March 2016 - 12:24 PM.

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#11 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 06 March 2016 - 12:26 PM

A friend of mine went yesterday - day 2 - and had a better report. I think they definitely are working out the kinks.
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#12 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 05:23 PM

What bothers me about experiences like this, is that running a projector isn't rocket science. Plus, the theater has been "operational" for quite sometime, they could have done a few tests before committing to a theatrical running.

Last film I watched on double projectors was a beautiful restored 70mm print of "Its a Mad Mad World" that really looked like it was new movie, quite astounding. Anyway, they did change overs and about 3 reels in, they didn't start the next projector on time and the film rolled out between reels. Small glitch, kinda laughed about it, but inevitable when you run restored content, a lot of it doesn't have cue tracks. In fact, the 70mm projectors at that particular theater, didn't have bells either. So outside of the cigarette burns, they had no idea when to start the next reel. Whoops!

So yea, it happens... and as film becomes more and more of an 'art' form, issues like this will probably get worse and worse unfortunately.
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#13 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 12:41 AM

I saw a perfect projection of "Barry Lyndon" there tonight. Print was a bit beat-up, but no issues at all through the screening. They ran it straight through the intermission after Part 1. All went off without a hitch.

I look forward to seeing more films here.
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#14 Mark Dunn

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 06:29 AM

I saw a perfect projection of "Barry Lyndon" there tonight. Print was a bit beat-up, but no issues at all through the screening. They ran it straight through the intermission after Part 1. All went off without a hitch.

I look forward to seeing more films here.

According to Kubrick's cue sheet he sent to every cinema there is 14' of black leader after the intermission card, then an Academy leader, then another 9' of black leader. I think it's been cut out on the two occasions I've seen it- I don't watch it on TV.


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#15 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 09:51 AM

The American Cinematheque in Los Angeles does a proper intermission for it, but Metrograph just ran it straight through with a few seconds of black after the narration fades away.
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#16 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 06:19 PM

I should mention I did see a film in the larger theater that was over 3 hours.  The Mother & the Whore and that one was a perfect presentation. It looked great.  So there was a definite improvement in less than a week.  Would have got tickets to Carol but it's sold out.  :(


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