Thursday, May 22, 2008

Now if I ran a theater...

Anyone else ever had any bad experiences with theaters advertising revivals of classic films and then just poorly projecting the DVDs of them onto a big screen? I've been to quite a few of them and the results have been rarely good for me. The recent showing of First Blood that I had been so excited about was spoiled due to the stadium sized theater being too large for the digital showing, which caused the film to be overly dark and nearly unwatchable (something that apparently plagued a lot of showings of it).
My bad luck continued yesterday with a local big screen showing of all three of the original Indiana Jones films. I figured it would be a perfect way to catch back up with the series in preparation for the new film and I had been greatly anticipating it for the past couple of weeks.
I had a feeling it would just be a screening of the currently available DVDs and my fears were confirmed when my girlfriend and I arrived to find a guy in front of the screen loading a disc into a laptop computer. I don't really have that big of a problem with this concept, as I love the opportunity to see classic films back on the big screen, but rarely will a digital projection match a screening of an actual print of the film. I do wish though that theater chains would bother giving a damn about the presentations they are putting on. Even a simple thing like learning how to use the equipment seems to be too much to ask anymore.
Our Indiana Jones evening started out with shuffling around trying to find a seat that had a clear view to the screen as a couple of lap tops, the projector and some speakers were haphazardly scattered around to block almost every conceivable good view you could have.
Finally finding a couple of sort of decent seats, we were "treated" to a ten minute reel of new trailers at an unbearably loud and distorted volume. This looked to be the sort of promotional reel the theater had to agree to play in order to show the trilogy on DVD and it featured three previews (including one for an upcoming Adam Sandler movie that made me want to run out of the theater) and some annoying television commercials that reminded me of why I mostly watch shows on DVD now.
Nearly fifteen minutes behind schedule, and with a pounding headache due from the volume of the promotional reel, Raiders of the Lost Ark started. My heart sank as I immediately realized they were projecting the film at the wrong aspect ration...letterboxed but squeezed in like an old pan and scan tape with the volume so low that most of the dialogue was near impossible to hear, my revisiting of Raiders of The Lost Ark was disastrous.
We obviously didn't stay for the two sequels. I saw one guy complaining as we were leaving but it was obvious the person in charge either couldn't comprehend the technical problems or just didn't care. It was an extremely frustrating experience, but unfortunately one that seems to becoming more and more common as probably at least 1 out of every 5 films I go and see now as some sort of technical glitch due to the apathy of the theaters management and staff.
I really don't want to be someone who just stays at home watching DVDS. There's nothing like the communal magic of sitting in a darkened theater and watching a film on the big screen...unfortunately that magic is more often than not lost these days due to a lack of caring (at least in the local theaters around here).
What really sucks is that Raiders of The Lost Ark lived up to my memories of's a wonderful and exciting film that I'll honestly take over anything Spielberg has done since. Watching the terrible presentation of it yesterday made me realize how clearly I remember seeing the film when it originally came out and how special an experience it made me feel quite nostalgic and I am sorry my time with it again was spoiled so severely.


Steve Langton said...

Sorry to read about your bad experience. It really sucks that some theaters do not take their duties seriously enough to ensure patrons get the total experience, rather than the sort of excuse for service you encountered. Theatres aren't cheap to visit, and they really should get their fingers out and deliver a memorable experience. I'm going to see the new Indie film at our brand new cinema in nearby Derby when time permits, and will be reporting as to the kind of quality we get. Sorry again you encountered a couldn't-care-less attitude.

Joe said...

Don't get me started ...

2008 may be the first year since 1976 that I don't go to see a movie at a theater. The Dark Knight is one I'd love to see, but I already dread some of the behavior modes of the audience, not to mention the commercials, poor sound, etc.

Maybe I'm getting old here but there seems to be a severe lack of customer appreciation going on from theater owners. As in, no effort to make the experience of going to a movie fun for anyone who wants to see a movie.

Ugh. This was going to be a happy comment. I will think thoughts of Karen Allen and try to relax.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks to you both for the really was disappointing.

Rogue Spy 007 said...

I've never been to something like this anyway so I don't have any negative experience like that to report. That sounds terrible though. I'm so sorry that it happened. It really sucks. I don't go to the movies that much anymore. There's too much other things wrong with seeing a movie at the theater these days. I prefer to usually wait until a movie hits DVD. Then I can Netflix it and watch it at home.

Mr. Peel said...

I'm sorry that you had such a bad experience, Jeremy. I used to think that you had to see a movie in the theater to get the full experience. That's changed in recent years, not just because of what home theater systems have become but in how terrible some theaters have gotten. It's just not worth it to go through that sort of aggravation. That communal magic isn't going to happen if the theater doesn't even try. I'd rather go out with people I know and have dinner or something. I always try to remember how lucky I am to live in L.A. where there are theaters that do make the effort. Hopefully you'll get to have an enjoyable screening of the Indiana Jones movies soon...even if it is at home.

J.D. said...

That really sucks. I've never had projection problems. The thing that bugs me is if someone's cell phone goes off or you've got some yappy teenagers (or even adults) that ruins the film. And you can either potentially risk life and limb by telling the offending person(s) to shut the hell up or try and get some theater staff which are usually kids and have no authority anyways.

I too usually wait until a film hits DVD so that I can enjoy it in a controlled environment. Only very rarely do I brave the multiplex.

I just caught the new Indy film and enjoyed it immensely. I daresay, it was the most entertaining one since RAIDERS. And hell, Shia LaBeouf wasn't near as bad as I feared... in fact, he was pretty good but I think it being set in the 1950s played on my love of that decade. Lots of nice homages to pop culture of that time.