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I grew up going to the older theaters, that had just the one room and one screen, and just one movie playing. You could go in, anytime of the day, and stay long enough to watch the movie two or three times, if you wanted to. Now they won't let you in, if you're five minutes late, and they run everyone out between movies.

The sound at the theaters has always been terrible, and still is. The volume is always way louder than it needs to be. Actors whispering to each other, could be heard two blocks away, if you used the same volumes at home.

If I could afford a good projector and big screen, in my home, I'd never go to another theater. :)

Drive-ins were fun, during their day. You had volume control in your car. You also had some privacy in your car. The worst thing about drive-ins, was the mosquitoes(sp?) Yeah, you could use those PIC insect thingies (looked like a burner on an electric stove), but the smell of those were terrible.
 

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I grew up going to the older theaters, that had just the one room and one screen, and just one movie playing. You could go in, anytime of the day, and stay long enough to watch the movie two or three times, if you wanted to. Now they won't let you in, if you're five minutes late, and they run everyone out between movies.
It sounds like you're very close to my generation. Don't forget the balcony seats and it was strange to walk into a movie half way through and then stay to watch the beginning.

Bob
 

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It sounds like you're very close to my generation. Don't forget the balcony seats and it was strange to walk into a movie half way through and then stay to watch the beginning.

Bob
Oh yeah, I remember the balconies. I'm 58 yrs. old, BTW. :)
I remember, when I was a kid, I could go to one of our theaters on Saturday morning, and see three Tarzan movies, or three Lash LaRue movies, for $.15. If I had a dollar, I could pay for a ticket, and have two or three bags of pop corn and drinks. Those days are gone forever! Some Saturdays, they had cartoon marathons (at another theater). Admission was a can of peas or beans, or other canned food, for the needy. These don't happen anymore either, but they should.
 

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I'm 58 yrs. old, BTW.
I guess that would qualify. I'm 59.

If I had a dollar, I could pay for a ticket, and have two or three bags of pop corn and drinks.
I can say the same thing but I have a hard time doing it with a straight face because I remember my father telling me the same thing but it was with a quarter or something like that and I would always think to myself, "C'mon man, that's ancient history".

Those days are gone forever!
Indeed they are.

Bob
 

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I still love to go out to the movies. I know there are bound to be people talking, maybe a laser pointer, maybe a cell phone, and yes, it is expensive. But for a night's entertainment, and to get the 'real' experience, it's all worth it to me. It probably helps that I have 2 pretty great theatres near my home and office, so it makes it easy wherever I decide to go from, but I don't think I'll ever get tired of it. I love watching movies at home too, obviously, but there's still something about going "out" to a movie that does it for me.
 

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I remember, when I was a kid, I could go to one of our theaters on Saturday morning, and see three Tarzan movies, or three Lash LaRue movies, for $.15. If I had a dollar, I could pay for a ticket, and have two or three bags of pop corn and drinks.
Spielberg and his $200M movies put an end to cheap ticket prices. I still don't get why they rate how well a movie does on the box office gross.
 

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MatrixDweller,

Theatrical exhibition is no longer for the 'moviegoing experience' but used as paid advertising
for what the industry calls 'ancillary markets' (home video, cable, foreign) although that term
doesn't really apply anymore since the ancillary markets are now the primary markets and
exhibition secondary. In any event, box office gross has historically meant that a movie is popular. In the past that meant popular with general audiences but today that
means popular with whatever 'target' audience the distributor intended. It helps to sell DVD
units to video stores and the consumer.
One of the most deceptive things about boxoffice gross is that many people assume the
filmmaker and other creative factions are profiting from it. The producer and director (and
others in that end like some writers and actors with a percentage of the production) are the
last to see revenue. In general, most of the box office goes to the distributor due to the
tough terms they book movies in today. For blockbusters, 90 % of the ticket sales go to
the distributor for the first week or so and then the percentage is pro-rated upwards for
the theater owner. That's why ticket prices are so high and concessions expensive. It's
the only way for the exhibitor to stay in business. Once the film has completed it's run
(which is very short today compared to decades ago when a movie could be in release in
various venues for up to a year), then the distributor calculates his share after deducting
'off the top' expenses (which are usually quite padded and excessive) which include prints
and advertising costs. After that, the creative factions (producer, director etc.) get their
share if there's anything left which there often isn't unless the movie is a megahit. And that's
why producer, director and actor fees are so astronomical to compensate for the low returns
from the distributor. In summary, box office means very little to those who actually made the movie other than for negotiating leverage for thier fees on subsequent movies.

If a movie cost $100,000,000 to make and grossed $100,000,000 it actually lost money at the box office when you factor in the cost of prints, advertising and exhibitor percentages. In some cases it makes it's money back and in the long run
from the other markets.
 

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Richard,

You brought up a point that slipped my mind but there is absolutely nothing worst than paying for a movie and then having to sit through commercials. While it bothers me, it seems to really strike a nerve with my wife and listening to her complaining about it, is often much worst than than the offending advertising. One more point for HT.

Also, your point about the distribution of the wealth is a big issue in the business. Not only does it apply to the film but also to the related products that are associated with the film. There seems to be plenty of greed to go around.

Bob
 

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There are two sides to this discussion and both are very valid.

1. Going to the movies is expensive and can be annoying.

2. Watching stuff at home can be a better experience.

#1. While I love sitting at home and catching up with movies I've missed or great television series, I also love going to the theater. Granted my wife and I seem to head for the matinees or off times to go, but there are times you need the crowd. Example - Snakes on a Plane.

A lot of people were put off by this film (mostly because of the awful advertising campaign that sold it as a thriller instead of a comedy). But really, five minutes into this movie the crowd started laughing and yelling back at the screen (MST3k style) because of the amazingly stupid people in there (and they played it like they were in on the joke). And you know what, that's part of the experience of this kind of movie. Granted, I don't want yellers when I watch Syriana, but the experience of seeing a movie in a crowd of like-minded individuals can really accent the experience. Laughing alone at Superbad is fun, Laughing with a crowd of people is great.

As for #2, I've been spoiled. I live in LA and there is access to many great theaters locally. From the AMC around the corner to the Arclight - if you care about quality of picture/sound/environment, LA really is the place to beat. And like everywhere else, yes there are plenty of ****** screens - but they've been relegated to 2nd run theaters because people won't pay the big money to see a film on a ripped/faded screen without surround sound.

Not to mention, there is something to be said for seeing something on a 80 foot screen as opposed to a 50 inch plasma or projection. No matter how good it is, it's never the same.

And that's why I go to the theaters and see them at home.
 

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Sure there are the commercials at the beginning of the movie but don't forget about the ones in the movie. That's where the producer makes a bit of cash to help out with production. Just remember any time you hear or see a brand name in a movie or TV show, it has been paid for. Movies like Cast Away just made it too obvious.
 

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Santora,

You are spoiled in more ways than you think living in the Hollywood area. Some of the movie palaces
survive there to showcase industry product on large screens with plush decor. Also, Hollywood insiders
like to show the best quality obtainable of their movies which means the distributors strike special
'Show Prints' for exhibition (prints struck directly off the original camera negative or 'first generation
prints'). For the rest of the country they crank out high speed junk prints three generations removed
from the original from internegatives which lack the sharpness, fine grain resolution and 'snap' of a
camera negative print. The only other venue to see show prints are film festivals or press screenings.
It's a consumer rip off in that the critics are screening the best quality prints for review but the
public is paying to see sub-standard release copies. DVDs are always mastered from first generation
materials (i.e interpositive) or from the camera negative directly which is why the quality control is
superior in that format...given the limitations and differences between pixels and film emulsion.

At least through 1997, there was one other venue to see camera negative prints which were the
35mm to 70mm blow up copies created for the blockbusters. Now we don't even have that option.
Also, there was a brief revival of dye transfer printing (1997-2001) which was formerly known as
"Glorious Technicolor". Dye transfer prints were derived from matrices that were created directly
from the camera negative too. The only top quality mass produced first generation process invented
for color movies. That was eliminated too. It's difficult to impossible to see the best quality prints
outside of LA or festivals and considering the price of admission, I have to consider this before going
to a megaplex to see which I know will be a substandard presentation. I still go once in a while but
I know what I watch will be inferior to the DVD release. When you see a camera negative print and
compare it to a high speed print, it's almost like lifting a veil from the projector lens. It's so much
sharper and richer than the high speed copies.


For those into historical trivia, it was the Technicolor company that introduced high speed Eastmancolor printing back in 1976 and actually received a special Academy Award for this
retrograde technology. This replaced their famous dye transfer process which was shut down
in 1974 ("The Godfather II" was the last true Technicolor release) The other Eastmancolor labs adopted
high speed printing and now it's the only way general release copies are struck. In the fifties and sixties, Eastmancolor prints were struck at a very slow speed (50 feet per minute) to enable the stock to get a good exposure and allow from contrast adjustments. High speed prints are struck at the
rate of 2000 feet per minute (a full 20 minute reel) and you can barely get an exposure at
that rate much less allow for any color or contrast adjustments. It's ironic how Technicolor
was responsible for both the best color process (first generation dye transfer release printing)
and the worst (high speed third generation Eastmancolor printing). 70mm prints were usually
struck directly from the camera negative (whether it was a 65mm original or 35mm blow up)
and at a slow printing speed which is why they looked so good. I don't believe you can make
a quality release print on the high speed machine but I'm not sure the distributors care any more.
The megaplex prints are rushed through processing and then junked immediately after the
film finishes it's brief theatrical run. I guess they're considered 'disposable' copies rather
than "Show Prints" which are saved for later industry screenings.
 

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I don't think I've ever read a post by Mr. Haynes that I haven't come away learning something new.

Thanks again for the interesting info.

JCD
 

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I agree that going out to a movie has its charm but the statement that "you like the BIG screen" doesn't hold any marret as at least in my home theater I sit close enough to the 96" screen and have the comfort that NO theater can offer that it simply cant compete. I can pause rewind eat and drink anything I want and have the volume as loud or as soft as I so choose.
The home theater is the way to go and pays for its self in no time given the cost of admition, popcorn and other goodies.
 

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Richard,

You brought up a point that slipped my mind but there is absolutely nothing worst than paying for a movie and then having to sit through commercials.
Not to mention that the slides they used to show before the movie have started to be replaced by an LCD projector showing commercials! Argh! Now you can't even have a conversation before the movie starts. :gah:

Luckily, where I live, there is a great cineplex with a THX sound system that actually sounds great and Christie DLP projectors. The image is just awesome imo. It is also one of the older theaters so it doesn't attract the crowd that the newer one does. It's funny that people assume performance with age and actually pay more to see a movie in a lower quality venue simply because it is 'newer'. Good for me I guess!
 

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I guess these posts from different categories are starting to merge.

The reason that exhibitors show commercials on slides and video projectors prior to the film (I'm excluding trailers which were always part of moviegoing) is due to the tough booking terms imposed
on them by distributors. For blockbuster films distributors take 90 % of the ticket sales for the first
week or so. Theater owners have no choice but to try to make money any way they can because
it isn't from the actual movie they are showing initially, thus the high priced concessions, ticket
prices and commercials.
 

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For blockbuster films distributors take 90 % of the ticket sales for the first
week or so
These people must have excellent contract lawyers. I know actors fought long and hard to get royalties but it would be interesting to see whose getting the most money from a movie.

Bob
 

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For blockbuster films distributors take 90 % of the ticket sales for the first
week or so. Theater owners have no choice but to try to make money any way they can because
it isn't from the actual movie they are showing initially, thus the high priced concessions, ticket
prices and commercials.
Thanks for all of your great insight. I always knew that theaters relied on concessions and what not to make their money, but why has it just been in the last 7 or 8 years that the commercials have begun to show up? And mostly, how do these distributors harness this power? At some point you'd think the studios and filmmakers and theater chains would say enough is enough and find a way to cut this middleman.
 

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I had a friend who was a manager of a fairly large theater here until thy closed it down due to low attendance and a bad location for parking as it was downtown.
He told me that even though they make some money from ticket sales the revenue from concession stand sales accounted for a huge portion of his profit. The money he pulled in after selling screen time to advertising using slides before the movie was also huge as a semi full theater holding 600 people was a great means for advertisers to get there message across to a semi captive audience. If I was an owner I would do the same even if it ticked off some of the customers waiting for a movie to start.
I work in a high rise building and they have a company installing 20" lcd displays in the elevator lobby and inside the elevator and running adds (think about it, how many times do you take an elevator if you work in a office tower) A great captive audience for at least 30 seconds.
 
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