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Netflix is not the problem...


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#1 Justin Hayward

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 11:46 AM

This is an article written in response to Christopher Nolan's recent criticism of Netflix.  I've been screaming this for years now and it's why I don't see movies in theaters anymore.  My home theater is way better.  So I happen to love what Netflix is doing.

 

Netflix is Not the Problem

 

" utterly poor quality of national theater chains. The screens are dim. The focus is never sharp; the wrong lens is being used at least 25 percent of the time. The image is masked incorrectly, cutting part of the frame out so the composition is off balance."


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#2 Justin Hayward

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 12:01 PM

Also, I've been seeing movies in theaters by myself since I was allowed to do anything by myself.  I would walk miles to a theater without even knowing what was playing and I would buy a ticket to something I'd never heard just to sit and enjoy the theater going experience.  Then I got a job at a movie theater in high school and worked as a booth usher at different theaters throughout college.  Up until a couple years ago, seeing a movie (and maybe BBQing a steak) was all I asked from my wife on my birthday.

 

So coming to the conclusion that I'm done seeing movies in theaters has been very hard for me.  It would make me so happy for more guys like Tim League to pop up, but until then, my basement is my movie theater.


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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 12:10 PM

Here is the problem though... Netflix has around 97 million subscribers... for argument sake lets just say that number is 100 million. Even though they're a revolving door of customers coming and going.

There are 1.3 billion movie tickets sold in the US every year and 1.5 billion movie tickets sold in the major international markets. So that's around 3 billion tickets sold @ lets say an average of $8/ticket. That's about equivalent to a monthly Netflix subscription.

So where I do agree, the theatrical presentation these days isn't much better then it was during the film days and in some cases worse. Where I agree with Nolan is that Netflix doesn't have anywhere near the viewership to bother making content for them. If they had 1 billion eyes, people would think differently, but they clearly aren't even remotely close.

I don't see movies in the theater today due to content, rather then how it's presented. Sure I'd prefer to watch a film print and I have gone out of my way to see Warners 70mm film releases, even if the movies didn't interest me much. To me, it's all down to content and there isn't much interesting content on Netflix either, in my opinion. Sure I think their in-house productions have been great, but they would have been even greater had the world been able to see them in the theater with a marketing campaign. I blame Netflix for basically taking "beasts of no nation" and ruining any chance of it winning awards. If I were those filmmakers, I would have never signed a deal with Netflix. Such a phenomenal movie that NOBODY saw.

Where I do think internet streaming of movies will be the future, I don't think Netflix's model works. Amazon is at least marketing their theatrical content and putting it in theaters prior to on demand video release. To me, that's the right way to do things and I think Amazon will win over Netflix in the years to come. They already have more people using their website, it's just a question of switching them over to watch their content. Apple also has a new platform they're nearly ready to launch that will hopefully re-define some of these things as well.
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#4 Jay Young

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 01:36 PM

The 70mm presentation of DUNKIRK I saw yesterday was not a bad performance, but it was not correct.  Someone had not set the pressure plate correctly, so the film was allowed to shift causing slight brightness fluctuation, and caused the bottom of the screen to be out of focus - generally only detectable and confirmed on credits at the end.

 

I was not unhappy with the presentation, but it was clearly an easy fix and no projectionist was around to check the projector between showings... Cost savings at some levels should be skipped.

 

 

Its just the same as Amazon putting up old films from very poor scans and trying to sell/rent them for $5.  Not worth it.  I realise that no one wants to put the time or funds into restoring those older films, but surely Amazon could find a decent print to scan?


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#5 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 01:55 PM

Also, I've been seeing movies in theaters by myself since I was allowed to do anything by myself.  I would walk miles to a theater without even knowing what was playing and I would buy a ticket to something I'd never heard just to sit and enjoy the theater going experience.  Then I got a job at a movie theater in high school and worked as a booth usher at different theaters throughout college.  Up until a couple years ago, seeing a movie (and maybe BBQing a steak) was all I asked from my wife on my birthday.

 

So coming to the conclusion that I'm done seeing movies in theaters has been very hard for me.  It would make me so happy for more guys like Tim League to pop up, but until then, my basement is my movie theater.

I'm super psyched for the new Optoma 4K projector that's 3000 lumens and only $2,000.  Looks awesome and it's about time.

 

I was a projectionist way back in high school.  We were trained properly.  I had to take classes and get a license.   There was a union and everything.  This was the early 90's.  Nothing like the situation in your standard theater today.

 

The movie theater experience was over a long time ago.  Home projectors are now on par and the 7.1 atmos sound is incredible.  You can DIY a theater so cheap today there's no reason to subject yourself to a bad public presentation of it.  Although Love Witch at Nighthawke in Brooklyn was a lot of fun with a crowd.  Sometimes it's worth it.  Most of the time, I'd prefer a bluray and my own theater.


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#6 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 04:08 PM

Also, I've been seeing movies in theaters by myself

I can't fathom going to the cinema by myself. I barely watch features by myself period. I like need someone there, very rare I have the attention span to finish these 2+ hour run-times.


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#7 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 04:21 PM

I'm not sure how Netflix is having any negative impact on the theatrical business.  It's still next to impossible to get a movie into theatres as there is so much product on the market.  Even big Hollywood tentpoles get pushed aside for the next big Hollywood tentpole after a two week run.  Long gone are the days when ET could sit at the local theatre for an entire Summer.

 

Overall I think Netflix is great. They have pushed up acquisitions pricing for producers that actually have something good to sell.  Forcing the other mainstream buyers to finally start raising their bids after more than a decade of slumping prices and "joke" offers as producers call them.  Yeah, we'll offer you $75, 000.00 to acquire all of North America, can't tell you how many times I have heard that one.

 

The other great thing about Netflix is their selection of foreign films.  They have so many films that you would otherwise never see because no US or CDN distributor would put the movie out on DVD and no North American broadcaster would ever air it.  Quite incredible to see the quality of work coming out of Europe.

 

Netflix Canada is also causing major disruptions to the market here as they are exempt from Canadian content rules that the broadcasters must follow.  And with their money and power they just raise the middle finger to the Canadian government and the Canadian unions jumping up and down demanding that Ottawa take action.  Good job Netflix.

 

R,


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#8 Justin Hayward

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 04:22 PM

I can't fathom going to the cinema by myself. I barely watch features by myself period. I like need someone there, very rare I have the attention span to finish these 2+ hour run-times.

You're not the first to tell me that.  I would also wait for the movie to be out a couple weeks then check it out on a Tuesday night to ensure as few people in the theater as possible.  Then if a movie really spoke to me on a story and technical level I would see it two more times... by myself. :)  I'm sure it's part of the reason I hate going to public screenings of my own work.


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#9 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 04:22 PM

Content is also why I don't go to see most films at the cinema anymore. Some not-so-subtle change has occurred in 'a lot' (but not all) movies the last two decades. It's a question of morality. That's often a big joke these days but it's still true. The 'morality' of movies has dived. I mean the quality of how a human being is depicted.

 

If you look at the old classic horror films, a genre not noted for angelic depictions of humanity, you notice that, nevertheless, the director/script writer treated people as intrinsically worthy of respect. It's hard to define and laughter-inducing to try and explain this to people who don't see it (the majority these days it seems) but it's still true. Contemporary films often now routinely depict people in a pretty poor light - endless movies and series on tv depicting people as mere tribal beasts that have just a thin veneer of materialistic civilized behaviour over the top as a kind of lie. I always find myself thinking, while trying to watch many a contemporary movie or tv series, "why do I even care what happens to these people?"

 

These productions depict thoroughly uninteresting people. And boring political stabs that are mind-numbingly repeated ad-nauseum, the various social tiffs/fashions such as conservatives are bad or out of fashion. That turns off a lot of audiences. If we want to entertain general audiences we need to rise way above pettiness. It's not the sets, locations, cinematography cameras or lenses. Its the scriptwriters and directors.


Edited by Jon O'Brien, 24 July 2017 - 04:33 PM.

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#10 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 04:44 PM

Continuing on from my post above, the biggest trap movies have fallen into today is a clumsy approach to stereotyping. That is often death to a story. Sure, some stereotypes are fun, such as the villain in The Great Race, acted by Jack "Press the button ... Max!" Lemmon. And sure, Darth Vader is a kind of stereotype that works really well. You've got to get the balance right. A lot of stereotyping is just lazy writing/thinking. Think of your audience, filmmakers. Is your stereotyping going to kill this picture? That's why artists, not just anybody, need to make movies .... and they need to be good. It's not enough to be just creative. Universal themes, and treat people as intrinsically worthy of great respect, and intrinsically 'very special'. Get your audience deep down caring about your characters. That's the key.


Edited by Jon O'Brien, 24 July 2017 - 04:55 PM.

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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 07:38 PM

My heart bleeds not for Nolan.

 

His concerns are those of the auteur director who gets to have someone else pay him to make whatever he wants. There are a few dozen of them in the world, probably less, and they are all guaranteed to be ultra-rich forever.

 

Boo hoo.

 

And, er, Richard:

 

Yeah, we'll offer you $75, 000.00 to acquire all of North America, can't tell you how many times I have heard that one.

 

If I could have someone offer me $75k to distribute my movie in all of North America, well, I might spend $75k making a movie!

 

Be happy, they're offering you money. It's more than most people (well, effectively all people) get.

 

P


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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 09:02 PM

If I could have someone offer me $75k to distribute my movie in all of North America, well, I might spend $75k making a movie!

 

Be happy, they're offering you money. It's more than most people (well, effectively all people) get.

 

P

 

Damnit!  I knew you were going to say that! :)

 

R,


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#13 Justin Hayward

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 09:03 PM

There were always issues with film prints... scratches, bouncing in the gate, out of frame, and of course it was sometimes out of focus. Nowadays it's just plain dark. Almost all the time. And it's often because the low wage employees didn't bother to switch the 3D lens to 2D for the 2D movie, thus splitting the light brightness in half for something that was never intended for 3D which is why it looks so freaking dark. And if the focus is buzzed, no one can possibly know unless a customer informs them, because the movies times are set on a computer. Nobody checks if the movie is playing ok. It just starts and stops on it's own. Then, if you do say something to a manager... they literally don't know what you're talking about. They flat out don't understand anything technical about movies.  And compared to me, that's saying something!!! They don't know the difference between 4k projection and 2k projection and they work at a theater that says they offer both. And they don't even know what the term "aspect ratio" means. Did I mention I'm done with movie theaters?

 

I worked at a bunch of movie theaters as a kid and I learned the difference between scope and flat as part of the job. When I was 17 years old I could tell which lens was supposed to be on the projector by simply holding a frame of the print in front of a light.  Forget timing myself to see how fast I could thread the projector, I checked the focus, framing, sound levels, and every bit of it before I walked away.  Then I would walk down to the theater to make sure it felt right.  

 

But I also walked twelve miles to school in the snow with no shoes, so don't listen to me :)


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#14 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 12:07 AM

They don't change lenses today on digital shows... those days are over. All movies run through the same system either 2D or 3D. There is no projectionist either, there is someone who loads the files once a week and makes sure the automation works, that's it. The system is completely automated, including 2D to 3D stuff.
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#15 Justin Hayward

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 08:09 AM

Any idea why the 2D is so dark all the time?  It's like looking at a monitor that is a full stop under exposed.


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#16 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 08:53 AM

Any idea why the 2D is so dark all the time?  It's like looking at a monitor that is a full stop under exposed.

A xenon bulb that's on it's way out will vignette the edges of the screen and cause an overall drop in brightness.   They likely run them all the way down.  Stupid really cause it's not an easy and quick process to change those bulbs.  You have to wear a suit like in The Hurt Locker.   In case you drop it.  It's like a grenade. 


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#17 Justin Hayward

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 09:25 AM

A xenon bulb that's on it's way out will vignette the edges of the screen and cause an overall drop in brightness.   They likely run them all the way down.  Stupid really cause it's not an easy and quick process to change those bulbs.  You have to wear a suit like in The Hurt Locker.   In case you drop it.  It's like a grenade. 

Copy that.  Thank you.


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#18 Phil Connolly

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 10:13 AM

Any idea why the 2D is so dark all the time?  It's like looking at a monitor that is a full stop under exposed.

Most 3D systems are between 10% and 30% light efficient. So in the worst case (dolby 3D) the combination of filters, glasses and alternating L and R images loose nearly 90% of the available light. So if you need X number of lumens to light the screen in 2D - to get the same brightness (depending on the system) you need 4 to 10 times as much light for 3D.

 

So you can imagine your typical cinema is not going to spend the money needed to get the correct 14 fl in 3D, hence why most 3D films are timed for a more realistic 3-4fl. Its not just a cost issue but also down to the available projectors - the most powerful digital projectors can take a 6KW lamp. When Avatar was premiered in the London Empire using Dolby 3D on a 52ft screen it needed 4 x 6KW projectors to get the image up to an acceptable brightness. While is possible to stack projectors for a premier its not practical for day to day running.

 

2D these days can look dark either because the projector lamp is underspeced for the bulb or the 3D lens is left in place, this is typical for Sony projectors because its very time consuming to swop out.

 

Also 3D has ruined 2D. Since most 3D systems require a highly reflective  silver screen to retain polarisation. This also affects the way 2D films looks. Since its so directional they only reflect light back on on axis. So you could be sitting in the centre of the auditorium and watch a bright 14ft image. Then if you move down to the seats at the sides you become off axis and the brightness can drop significantly. With a silver gain screen, fewer seats are in the sweet spot of maximum illumination. Also Silver screens make it very difficult to get even light distribution - so you often see a noticeable hot spot or vignette. 

 

Dolby 3D doesn't need a silver screen, but its so light inefficient - few locations installed it because of the problems getting to to work on larger screens. Alongside the pain  of collecting and recycling the expensive glasses. 

 

Laser projection of course is the answer, its brighter and the 3D systems are much more efficient - making it possible to get 14fl in 3D on large screens. Also they use a 3D system that doesn't require a silver screen - so win win.  But its still prohibitively expensive and as such there are probably less then a couple of hundred screens worldwide.

 

Most cinemas these days seem to be run austerity measures these days, minimum staff, poor build quality, poor maintenance, bad food, far to many adverts. Either this is because the chains are getting too greedy or the margins are just being squeezed by alternative content. Either way the cinematic experience seems to be getting worse.

 

Its fine for Chris Nolan to say cinema is better and if your in one of 3 - 70mm IMAX screens left in the UK,  it probably is much better. My local cinema is playing Dunkirk in a small room in 2K. With a trapezoidal  screen: I kid you not the keystone is so bad from the poor booth placement, its resulted in a non rectangular screen, smelling of damp with seats that a good deal less comfortable then my ikea dining room chairs....

 

Think I'll stick to Netflix 


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#19 Justin Hayward

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 10:52 AM

Excellent answers to questions I've had for a long time.  Thank you very much.

 

So you could be sitting in the centre of the auditorium and watch a bright 14ft image. Then if you move down to the seats at the sides you become off axis and the brightness can drop significantly. 

 

 

And I was about to follow up with this question, because I took my son to see "Cars 3" the other day and we had to sit on the left making the right side of the screen really dark.  So I walked to the right and the left totally fell off.  There's my answer.  Thanks again.


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#20 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 02:15 PM

Keep the tradition alive and have your son see Cars 3 alone.


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