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seeing movies in smaller cities


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 01:16 AM

Boy, my options for seeing the major releases while I'm in Santa Fe, New Mexico are really poor!

Last week I saw "Skeleton Key" at the local mall cineplex, and today I tried to see "Brothers Grimm" at the same theater (the only place where it is playing in town.) The projection is generally washed-out, partially because they leave a bright exit light on in the booths that shines down into the theater.

And with "Brothers Grimm", the left-half of the image was out of focus, and to focus it, the projectionist opened the glass portal, so we heard the loud projector for a few minutes, and then the movie went soft on the left side again with a few minutes. Plus on that side, all the highlights were smeared vertically. I don't know whether that was a shutter timing problem or dirty portal glass or projector lens. I didn't feel like asking a second time to fix all of these problems, so I left. Sorry to say, the movie didn't seem very good anyway.

Spoiled by generally top-notch projection in Los Angeles, and similar experiences in New York, the theater-going experience here is so lame that I can understand why some people think the only answer is home cinema, which is sad.
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#2 Tim Tyler

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 10:10 AM

Regal just opened a new 16-screen multiplex here in Olympia on Friday. Olympia is not a small town, but it's got to be smaller than SantaFe.

I saw 'Brothers Grimm' there on Friday and it was one of the finest screenings I've ever experienced. Newton Thomas Sigel's photography is about the only thing the movie's got going for it, but the projection and theater sound were perfect.
I was not distracted by exit signs, overhead lighting, aisle lighting, or people in front of me. It was as good or better then any theater I've been to in SEA, SFO, or LAX.

Regal previously had an 8-plex a 1/2 mile down the road (which they closed on Thursday night) and it had very mediocre projection, dim projector lamps that looked like they were always at 80%, and occasional multi-track audio problems. I would routinely complain to the ushers regarding soft projection.

It would appear that Regal is concerned about losing customers to Netflix and home theaters, and I'm glad they're trying hard to give people a reason to go to the theater. I see two ot three movies a week in the theater, and I'm excited now that I have a nearby venue with new equipment and comfortable seating.
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#3 Louis

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 11:17 PM

That's funny, I have had very limited experience in small town theaters, but the one time I went to a smaller town theater it was much better than I was used to. I was in Santa Barbara and I saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith for the 2nd time. The first time I saw it was in Northridge at the Winnetka 21, where I think they underpower most if not all of their projector bulbs, and their prints are always really weak, with really milky blacks, and there was 20 minutes of commercials, and everyone was talking around me. In Santa Barbara, I saw the same movie, but there was exactly 1 commercial before the movie, the print was gorgeous, and the audience was respectfully quiet. I almost moved to Santa Barbara right then and there!
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#4 Boone Hudgins

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 12:44 AM

The closest theater to me is in the town of Newport. It's a small, three-screen multiplex and it's really not great. The prints aren't taken care of very well, and there are plenty projection problems, not to mention horrible sound.

I was watching a DVD, fed from a computer and projected on a wall the other day, it was really surprising how close it looked to the projection from this theater. I could see some subtle compression artifacts, and the projector had a pretty annoying green tint in the highlights, but the picture was just a little bit softer, with a bit lower contrast, than a theatrical projection. With a bit of tweaking, I bet I could set up a 5 foot screen (or so) in my house that looked very close to the picture at the local theater. Yes the screen is considerably smaller, but so is the audience.

When I have the chance, I tend to go the Carmike in Corvallis. I like the quality there very much, and the seating is better, too.
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#5 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 01:23 PM

I live in Bloomington, Indiana. Which is a town of about 60,000 all the time and 100,000 when college is in (IU).

We have two cinemas, both are owned by Kerasotes Theaters, and they take really good care of them. I work for the Showplace west 12, which is the newest of them all (built around 1998??). We never have problems like what you encounted.

The other cinema, showplace east 11, does not have a lot of problems either.

NOW, there used to be a cinema in the College Mall (which was also owned by Kerastoes) which was dated from around the 1960's or 70' when the mall was built. It had 2 screens and it was your average "2nd Run hole-in-the-wall" type place. They had all kinds of trouble there, until finally a year ago they closed it down.

Bottom line: Not all cinemas in every small town are bad. Mostly just the "Mom n Pop" ones. Thankfully, the last mom n pop cinema left bloomington around 1980 or so.
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#6 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 02:25 PM

If you are ever dissatisfied with presentation quality in a theatre, you should let the manager/projectionist know. Speak up immediately if it is a correctable problem like misframing, poor focus, audio level, or a light shining on the screen.

Follow up with a letter, and a .cc to the theatre circuit's head office, c/o the VP of Operations and VP of Projection:

Here's a link to the Theatre Circuit contacts:

http://directories.v...des/exhibition/
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#7 Matt Pacini

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 06:37 PM

Now you know what it's like for many non-city dwellers!
I'm torn between two thoughts; I hate seeing the demise of smaller theaters to the big multiplexes, however, the quality control in the "non-big-chain" theaters is commonly a problem.
MP
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#8 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 08:45 PM

Now you know what it's like for many non-city dwellers!
I'm torn between two thoughts; I hate seeing the demise of smaller theaters to the big multiplexes, however, the quality control in the "non-big-chain" theaters is commonly a problem.
MP

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I disagree. It's usually the local management and staff, and their committment to quality presentation that makes the difference. There are gems and klunkers in both big circuits and the "mom-and-pop" operations.
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#9 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 09:45 PM

Well, Mom n Pop cinemas may be wanting to keep there cinema great... But they are much more likly to cut corners because they can. The manager at showplace 12 would never dream of cutting corners, because its a good way for him to loose his job...

When you have a corperation full of people over you, you are much more likly to go by the book than in a mom n pop cinema...

Just my $0.02
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#10 Boone Hudgins

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 11:21 PM

It may also be that "mom-and-pop" theaters are cutting corners because they're losing business to large chain multiplexes, who end up purchasing the smaller theaters and shutting them down.

And I wonder how the aforementioned quality control hierarchy works in other chain establishments like Blockbuster and McDonalds. Quality control in big businesses is only a small part of the puzzle when it comes to efficiency.
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#11 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 11:53 PM

When you have a corperation full of people over you, you are much more likly to go by the book
Just my $0.02

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Oh yeah, that's exactly how ALL big corporations are. ALWAYS by the book! Ask the folks at Enron, Anderson, and Worldcom about that. They never do anything wrong because they're all afraid of getting in trouble. And the oil companies aren't gouging it's customers for gas either!

Your statement is just patently incorrect. The last few years have proven that over and over again. One quick glance at the world (or the news) should make it pretty obvious.
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#12 sandy

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 12:08 AM

maybe i am just lucky, but in the small town that i am staying in we have an awesome cinema! there is only one screen but the selection of movies is great, especially for it's cultural variety! (every movie is usually on for like 3 nights to allow this variety) i have never had the chance before to see italian, indian, chinese, danish, brazilian, us-america... (u name it) movies in one cinema! it takes much longer for the movies to be shown (in the sense that especially blockbusters have usually been long gone from 'normal' cinemas in bigger towns) but i think it is worth waiting for! the quality is great and the staff is most friendly!
this cinema really can compete with any multiplex, superluxurious, modern cinema i have come across so far!
god, if they ever need anyone for advertising... ;)
i just had to share....
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