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Discussion Starter #1
I don't understand the vow not to go to theaters?

I know, it's a given we all love home theater. I certainly do. But I love movies, the whole experience of home movies and movie theaters goes along with it for me. I could never make such a vow, in fact I go to the movies about twice a month - that includes the cineplex and the odd small theater for an indie movie. But I watch way more at home on my HT system.

Is it time for another Movie Theaters vs Home Theater thread? Are we sick of that one yet?
 

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Re: John Rambo

It's not a vow for me Wayde, there just aren't that many movies that spark my interest to pay that much to go out.

The last movie my wife and I went to see was Rocky Balboa and tickets, one soda and bucket of popcorn (we always share :) ) came out to over $40.

Now... there is a local drive in theater we decided to start going to :bigsmile: The only thing I don't like about going there is they make me park my truck way off to the side. :(
 

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Re: John Rambo

I can buy a dvd I want to watch used on Amazon for less than the cost of a movie ticket - in doing so, I get better picture quality, better sound quality, more comfortable seating, the ability to pause, rewind, or fast forward, I can eat whatever I want while watching, I don't have people talking all around me, no cell phone lights or calls, etc. If I'm not sure if I will like the movie, I can rent it from Family Video for $0.50 for 5 nights :R

The only reason I would have in choosing to actually go to the movie theater to watch something nowadays would be that I absolutely must see it right away and can't wait for the dvd. It would take a Rocky or Rambo film to achieve that status, everything else can wait.
 

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Re: John Rambo

Too bad. I love my DVDs, don't get me wrong. But sometimes there's nothing like the big screen. I like to take my son and girlfriend and for me it's a social thing. I admit there are sometimes problems with idiots with cell phones. But in my experience it's rather rare. Usually I spend more money than I should - that's for sure - but I almost always have a good experience.

Believe it or not, prices are coming down. I'm interested to see how theaters evolve from here. It seems movie theaters and home TV (home theater) have had this cat and mouse game for decades. Generally it's been aspect ratios, theaters want to offer something different. Today it's iMAX and other efforts including digital projection and high end sound. Some theaters are doing eateries and alcohol inside the cinema. I applaud all the efforts and the competition.
 

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Re: John Rambo

I agree Wayde, and don't get me wrong... I love seeing certain movies at the movie theater. It just takes a certain movie to get me out, usually something epic, or one I just don't want to wait for it to come out on DVD.

When I was stationed in Florida in the early 80's, they had a theater that was like a night club/restaurant. You could order food, beer, and even smoke. It was always packed and I was there just about every weekend.

I think it would make Sly smile to hear that his movies get some people to go to the theater that normally don't. :)
 

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Re: John Rambo

The trouble with attending megaplexes is that they are not showing optimum quality prints like they
do in Hollywood. For industry screenings, they play "Showprints". For general audiences they
show "High Speed IN Prints". What's the difference? Showprints are copies struck directly from
the camera negative which is the best you can get and made at slow printing speeds with
contrast adjustments (making night scenes darker and day time scenes brighter). They're also known as 'first generation prints'.


High speed prints are made from internegatives three generations removed from the camera negative
at speeds in excess of 2000 feet per minute. They're barely getting an exposure at that rate and
no contrast adjustments are possible. The prints are made on a 'one lite' setting. The method
is to first make a fine grain positive from the camera negative ("IP"), then make an internegative
from that ("IN") then crank out thousands of release copies quickly with little, if any, quality control
and ship them to theaters. DVDs are mastered from first generation materials (the "IP") and sometimes
from the camera negative itself which is why they look sharper, have better color and are finer grain.
Of course the resolution is not as good as film but the overall image quality is because DVD distributors
really care about what they look like and theatrical distributors don't. The poor quality of the release
prints isn't the theater owners fault. They can only project what they are supplied with.
It's interesting to note that no DVD distributor would ever master a film from the copies shown in
megaplexes. The quality isn't good enough and they would be rejected.


So if you want to see a top quality print projected in a theater, you'll have to go to Hollywood or a film festival or some trade screening for critics.



It wasn't always like this. Before 1968, they used to show exclusively camera negative prints in theaters. However, this wore out the negative so they developed CRI duplicate negative stock
that year and later IP/IN stock. The trade off was a loss of resolution and quality in the final release print. This only applies to Eastmancolor and the labs that processed it like De Luxe, Metrocolor,
Pathe, Warnercolor etc. Technicolor was another process entirely and used for many big budget
films until 1975 when that lab shut down the process and switched to Eastmancolor like the other
facilities. For Technicolor films, the negative was only used to make a set of matrices which were
three printing plates on film (in black and white in relief like a rubber stamp impression). Each
matrix represented one color. Then the three matrices were coated with dye and each color was
wiped onto the blank film layer by layer. It was expensive and time consuming but the final release print
had much better color and contrast than an Eastmancolor print and never faded. People called it
"Glorious Technicolor" and it really was. It was the only
process that offered mass produced first generation copies that didn't damage the negative.


Technicolor was briefly revived from 1997-2001 then they shut down the machines again due to lack
of industry interest. Part of the problem was that the people in Hollywood always see first generation
prints and are either unaware (or don't care) what the rest of the country sees.



In 1989 there was still a Technicolor lab in China that offered dye transfer printing. I traveled there to make 'Glorious Technicolor' prints of my third feature film, "Space Avenger" in
the process which was the only American movie to utilize it from 1975 through 1997.




Backing up a bit, while the 35mm prints were sub-standard after the demise of Technicolor in 1975, there was one other format that offered excellent quality which was 70mm. Whether the film was
photographed in 65mm or shot in 35mm and blown up to 70mm, they were usually camera negative prints.
The camera negative 70mm blow ups of "Star Wars" and "Superman" looked great and were much better
than the 35mm high speed copies made at the same time. Theaters that
showed 70mm films made more money than the 35mm cinemas showing the same picture. Although they
didn't know the technical details, most audiences noticed the quality difference. In the mid-nineties,
exhibitors started building megaplexes and none of them installed the 70mm projectors so the format
was eliminated with the exception of IMAX films and an occasional revival like "Lawrence of Arabia". The last new feature to be released in 70mm was "Titanic" in 1997.


So, I rarely go to megaplexes any more because I can see better quality projecting a DVD on my DLP.
I attend film festivals or trade screenings if possible so I can watch 'Showprints'.
 

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Richard said:
So, I rarely go to megaplexes any more because I can see better quality projecting a DVD on my DLP.
Absolutely. Many people make the comment about wanting to see something on "the big screen", but to my eyes, "the big screen" looks pretty poor. I haven't watched Rocky Balboa on dvd (I'm actually pretending the movie doesn't exist - mature, isn't it? :heehee:) so I don't know if it was just filmed dark, but even the coming attractions while I was at the theater last are just dim. Colors don't pop, contrast is poor, and pure whites look like shades of grey. It's basically quality vs quantity.
 

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Steve,

The 'dim' image is a probably a burned out Xenon. Attendance is so low today, exhibitors are cutting corners in performance. The Xenon bulbs that illuminate the image are very expensive. There's
a dial on of the lamphouse that indicates how many hours are left on it. If you go beyond
that the bulb is burning out and there won't be enough light on screen. The other possibility is that the theater isn't using a professional projectionist, just a kid they trained to turn on the machine. It's a bit more complicated than that to operate a projector properly. A pro has to know how to focus the lamphouse depending on the format. 1.85 and anamorphic 2.35 ratios require adjustments because the full frame is being projected, not just the cropped part of the frame. They also have to know how to tighten the gate if the image steadiness is poor and run Dolby and Digital sound reels to check for the audio as well as frame the image correctly so it's not off center. Of course they need to change the Xenon bulb if it's no longer operating at full luminance which is 16 foot lamberts on screen. Even this is a bit tricky. Xenons can explode if they're not handled correctly and the operator has to wear face gear and gloves to prevent an accident.


Aside from the poor weekly attendence, theater owners also have to deal with distributors who
take an enormous percentage of the boxoffice take for the blockbusters. Decades ago, it was
a 60/40 split but these days distributors take 90 % of the ticket sales for the first week
of the big movies. The percentage gets pro-rated upwards for additional weeks but if the movie
doesn't perform well or has an extended run, the theater operates at a loss. That's why the
ticket prices are so high and concessions very expensive. Otherwise they would fold. These are
very tough times for exhibitors and moviegoers.


In my judgment, to increase attendence they need to offer something you cannot get at home. I advocate reviving Technicolor (dye transfer prints) and 70mm. Both formats offer spectacular image quality on large
screens that cannot be replicated on DVD. They were major selling points in the past.
"Glorious Technicolor" was featured in the posters and 70mm was listed in the newspaper
ads. In the case of 70mm, theaters that played movies in that format made more money
than those that played 35mm copies of the same title. I also used to see movies
on deeply curved screens at Cinerama and Rivoli on Broadway in the seventies.
It's called Showmanship and it's integral to the moviegoing experience.


It's curious to note industry reaction to competetion over the
decades. In the fifties, attendace was reduced from 90 million a week to 41 million a
week because of the usurping television medium. The studios response was to
invent new processes to 'wow' viewers back into cinemas. Cinerama, 3-D,
CinemaScope and Todd-AO (70mm) did the trick. Now with the home entertainment
competition, the industry seems to be cutting corners and trying to save money
on exhibition which is having the opposite effect. Weekly attendence is a fraction
of what it was in the seventies. But remember in the seventies they played "Star Wars", "Close Encounters", "Grease" and "Superman" in 70mm which
really packed them in and gave viewers their money's worth.
 

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Like many industries that face changes in technology, commercial theaters will either adapt by coming out with new ways to view that are not avaible in the home (one is testing the release of odors as you watch) or they will decline in numbers and dissapear as many other industries have. The problem they face is not necessarily 'home theaters' which are still too complicated for a majority of the population but by the availability of the DVD which most people simply watch on a player bought at WalMart and the CRT screen they have in the house. For now there are still a enough people going to theaters to make it profitable but what happens in the future will be interesting to watch. You'll have to excuse me for now, I have to go put the horse and buggy in the barn.

Bob
 

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In the past 15-16 yrs., we have been to the theater maybe 5 times. Each time we go, I remember why we quit going. The ticket prices! The drink and snack prices! People talking! Cell phones ringing! Kids kicking the back of my seat! Sound so loud it distorts! Commercials before the movie! It definitely is not worth it.........

The only movie I can think of, that would get us back into the theater, would be "The Hobbit", when and if it's ever made. The only reason we went to the last two, was because my wife's sisters asked us to go with them, and they bought our tickets. Still cost me $10 for two sodas, and a box of pop corn.
Theater? No thanks! :thumbsdown:
 

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Richard, you are a incredible source of information. I appreciate you taking the time to explain this stuff.

Until you mentioned it, I had forgotten about 70mm. I used to always go to 70mm showings instead of 35mm. And, it's interesting to read that Imax is basically the 70mm replacement these days.

I recently saw Transformers at the theater - mostly for a family outing type of thing. And the theater was pretty good, but throughout the movie I was thinking I would enjoy it more at home.

However, we also went to see Harry Potter on Imax and really enjoyed the large format and didn't wonder about watching it at home. And, the last 20 minutes were in 3-D which was fun.
I've seen a couple of other features at the Imax as well (Return of the King, and Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire) and the only complaint I have is it seems that every movie at some point has a piece of lint in a very noticeable place for several minutes.


Mitch
 

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Didn't read through the replies yet, but the thing that jumps out at me number 1 is...

$10 ticket x 2 people = $20
Popcorn x 2 people = $5
Drinks x 2 people = $8
cost of annoying other people at movies = millions of my nerves

Dvd new at most expensive retailer =$20
Expensive Microwave popcorn x 2 people =$~1
Drinks of my choice (adult beverages??) =$~1
cost of annoying people at movies... none at home.


I'm staying home.

Dozens more reasons, but that's the main one.
 

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Mitch G,

Many thanks for your comment. I forgot to mention one of the other attributes of IMAX which is all prints are made directly from the 70mm negative. That's one of the reasons it's so sharp aside from the size of the image being projected. One of the dirty little secrets about Eastmancolor is that the prints don't look good
unless are derived directly from the master element. They get murky if you strike them from duplicate negatives as they do for the megaplexes.



While IMAX is superior to the high speed 35mm prints shown in other theaters, I'm not a big fan of the format which is really 70mm VistaVision. The 70mm film is
15 sprockets in a 4:3 ratio, the same as old television, and projected horizontally. An earlier variation was 35mm VistaVision in the fifties which was an 8 sprocket image in 35mm and projected the same way. Standard 35mm is four sprockets per image and projected vertically.
My objection is the IMAX ratio. I always thought that widescreen was the most natural way to watch a movie. Among the processes that offered it were Cinerama (2.76 x 1), 70mm (2.21 x 1), CinemaScope (2.55 x 1) and Panavision (2.35 x 1). They replicated the procenium arch in theaters and filled your peripheral vision. When the filmmaker composed specifically for widescreen (i.e. David Lean, Sergio Leone), it was quite effective and gave you the sense of 'being there' on location. IMAX is a huge square image with excellent resolution but it isn't widescreen and it's a bit awkward to compose for that size. I prefer the
70mm ratio of 2.21 x 1 used for "Lawrence of Arabia" rather than the square IMAX ratio.



Bob 99,

I agree they need to come up with something different or spectacular and
hype it to get audiences back. I'm not sure about odors in theaters.
They tried it in the past and it was a disaster. Mike Todd's son made a picture
called "Scent of Mystery" in 1959 with smells pumped through vents and they
had all kinds of problems removing one odor before the next was was emitted.
Audiences got sick from the smells and complained. The film was pulled from
release, re-edited to remove the scents gimmick and re-issued as "Holiday in Spain".



The digital sound is very good today in cinemas (providing it was set up
properly). The problem is the image quality which is poor because of the generation
loss of the copies made on the high speed printers. Both Technicolor dye transfer prints and 70mm offer first generation imagery that would be vastly superior to
what's shown now and the technology still exists to revive them. The dye transfer equipment is in storage at Technicolor and that lab still makes 70mm prints
along with De Luxe.



Some filmmakers are advocating a change to digital projection. There are
a lot of problems with it. While a DLP looks great in home set ups, the pixels
might be noticeable on large cinema screens. They've also had a lot of problems
with electronic projection in the field. Heat builds up when the machine is in constant operation and the units default. Heat and electronics is a bad combination. There were trade screenings of digital projection where the system shut down and they had to switch to standard 35mm projection.
The other issue is the cost. A new 35mm projector is about $5000.
You can purchase used ones for under $1000. (I bought mine for $500).
Even a new 70mm projector is under $10,000 and they have 70/35 machines that can play both formats. On the other hand a professional digital projector is $100,000. For a megaplex with twenty screens, that would be an enormous investment. That's why I suggested reviving Technicolor or 70mm. For 35mm dye transfer prints, they could use the equipment they already have. For 70mm prints, they could buy a used surplus projector that are inexpensive now since the format
hasn't been used since 1997. Sometimes "Old" is better than "New". There's no question movies looked better in theaters decades ago than they do now.
 

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The only movie I can think of, that would get us back into the theater, would be "The Hobbit", when and if it's ever made.
Yes, that would get me back into the theater also. Unfortunately, unless some minor miracle happens, it probably wouldn't be directed by Peter Jackson, in which case I would have to think twice about seeing it.

Bob
 

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You guys forgot something else.......... multiply that by how many kids you have!!! if you have any!! :spend::spend::spend::spend::spend:

For me about $80:raped::raped:, I can buy like 10 used movies for that price:bigsmile:
 

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Richard said:
The digital sound is very good today in cinemas (providing it was set up
properly). The problem is the image quality which is poor because of the generation
loss of the copies made on the high speed printers
Uhhhhh, ermm - yeah, I'd agree the sound quality is probably better than the picture quality, but very good? Nah, a good HT sound system will blow away any movie theater I've been in.
 

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SteveCallas,

I guess it depends on the theater itself. The advantage at home is that you can customise your
sound field and tweak it so it operates at optimum capacity. There are always compromises in
cinemas. If you turn up the surrounds, it will be too loud for people in the back and so forth.
I will say that while movie sound continues to improve, release print quality (image wise) continues
to deteriorate. They need to devise a better system to mass produce release prints or revive
the dye transfer method. Or, possibly find a reliable digital projection system for cinemas that
is not too expensive to install and won't default after extended periods of time it will be in operation.
 

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Richard: I don't understand your comment about Imax being 4:3. Harry Potter was clearly in a widescreen format. It didn't fill the screen vertically, just horizontally.
Were you referring to made-for-Imax movies?


Mitch
 
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