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State of movie theaters: mini rant.

Blumlein 88

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#1
Went to the actual movie house to see a movie last night. I won't get into the movie as it never had a chance. The theater is a modern up to date theater capable of decent sound and good pictures. This movie was dark however. Very dark. Other people were complaining it didn't seem to have home HDTV resolution. It was the darkness as it was dropping all fine details so far down they looked black. My eyeball guess was this was subjectively somewhere south of 1/4 normal brightness. It also was pulsing up and down in brightness noticeably about every two seconds the whole time.

I went out once to complain, but no one was at the front counter. When leaving I said something to an usher about it. His reply, "oh yeah, it's real dark. They know about it. The new bulb came in this afternoon. So they'll replace it tonight when everyone leaves."

So I hunt somebody up to complain. The manager wouldn't come out, but sent someone else. "Oh yes sir, was it really that dark." Me, "yes it was too dark to see any detail and ruined a visually impressive movie. So are you getting new bulbs or something because that projector is not up to snuff? Would have looked better on my TV at home". Theater guy, "oh yeah, actually we got in 4 bulbs this afternoon. It'll be fixed before another showing. Yes sir, we don't do business that way, it'll be right tomorrow I assure you. I promise you the next showing will look like.....like good." I am thinking is there some disconnect here? So I say, "sounds like maybe I should have watched it tomorrow then instead of tonight. If only someone had told me when I bought my ticket that a new bulb was going in for tomorrow. Then I would have known to see it tomorrow." The light bulb, not the one in the projector is starting to light up now. Theater guy, "oh....OH YEAH! Would you like a rain check to watch it later or another movie?"

In the end a few people had overheard this, and now the manager has to come out. Issues a half dozen free passes for a future movie. Okay so they made it good, well to a few of us. A small minority of those having seen it. The movie opened last week. That bulb didn't go that bad that soon. Probably hundreds at a minimum saw it in the same conditions. These folks wonder why they are losing out to people waiting and watching movies at home.

The sound system wasn't better than what I have at home. The theater is some better than the projector I have when working right. The time to go, the inconvenience of not being able to pause it, and the high ticket price. My home projector quality is far better when the movie house bulb is on its last legs. Leaves little reason for someone to go to the theater if they are running that much on the ragged edge.

I keep hoping they will see the light and release movies streaming instead. Of course in a way Amazon and Netflix originals are already doing that. I just don't see the movie theater doing much better in the future.
 

Palladium

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#3
Yup, pay increasingly prices for a movie ticket so I can spend time driving to meet obnoxious people in poorly maintained place for a miserable experience, instead of just waiting a few months for a digital release. Sounds great!

Besides, a smart 55" 4K TV was $300 last Black Friday. If you think that is already low there's going to be a massive oversupply of display panels starting this year thanks to China overproduction (again!).
 

Sal1950

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#4
Guess I'm lucky with the IMAX just down the road.
Haven't been disappointed by the picture/sound quality there yet.
The movies have been a different issue though.
 

RayDunzl

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#5

March Audio

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#6
I have to say our local cinema is actually pretty good. Good consistent picture and sound. I would be surprised if professional movie projectors are using bulbs instead of laser light sources these days. Even our epson at home is laser now. Consistent, bright and will last longer than we will own it.
 

Phelonious Ponk

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#7
I guess I’m lucky, too. There’s a Silverspot cinema right up the road. Reserved seating you can purchase online, huge, cushy, seats, great picture and sound quality. They even have good food, but it’s pricey. I love going to the theater.
 

svart-hvitt

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#8
If you live in a city, you should choose cinema theatre before film, so to speak.

Modern films in modern theatres are a great experience. Progress has been huge in both film audio and theatre technology in the past 5-10 years or so.

Go to a good theatre and enjoy!
 

RayDunzl

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#9

RayDunzl

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#12
I have the Tampa Theater now, built in 1926.

It's a bit strange, some surreal mediterranean cityscape surrounds the stage and decorates the sidewalls. Has a domed ceiling.

Smaller than the Alabama. Doesn't have a big screen.

Saw Bela Fleck and the Flecktones there a few years ago, and Bogus Pomp (performing with additional members of the Florida Orchestra).

 

Sal1950

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#14
I have the Tampa Theater now, built in 1926.
What a crazy design, but very kool too.
I so fondly remember the downtown Chicago theaters of the 50/60s. Back then if you wanted to see a first run on a big flix you had to go "downtown".
Inside the "loop" of downtown Chicago was a group of around six of the big movie palaces built in the 20/30s. High times then in more ways than one.
Sadly the only one left now is the Chicago, beautifully remodeled back some years ago. My last I was in that theater, I had a great time seeing Fleetwood Mac there about 15 years ago.
(Look at those "nose bleed" seats. LOL
 

RayDunzl

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#15
Went to the actual movie house to see a movie last night. I won't get into the movie as it never had a chance. The theater is a modern up to date theater capable of decent sound and good pictures. This movie was dark however.
I went to a year-old modern theater myself last week, first time since going to a dollar theater in 1999 or so for Batman (with the penguin) and Saving Private Ryan on an afternoon that work was cancelled.

Tried to buy tickets at the ticket desk, the attendant couldn't figure out how to do it.

Bought tickets from the self-serve machine. Was later informed one of the two pieces of paper it spit out wasn't a ticket.

The screen was definitely dimmer than I might have expected, such that the dimmed wall sconces in the theater were intruding upon my peripheral vision during the darker scenes. Seemed OK during the more normally lit scenes, but not brilliant.

The sound was good, not too loud. There were like 8 "Coming Attractions" at the beginning to enable some judgment of the bass during the repeated shooting and exploding stuff. I suppose it was all using some sort of surround sound, there were speakers high on the sides, but there was no "Wow! My home stereo is utterly incompetent!" sensation registering in my brain.

Picked a quiet time to go. Didn't count, but I don't think there were more than ten people attending the showing.

Maybe I'll go to a movie again in another 20 years.

I'll probably buy a new TV sometime sooner than that, though. The QLED stuff is looking pretty good.
 
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Blumlein 88

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#16
I went to a year-old modern theater myself last week, first time since going to a dollar theater in 1999 or so for Batman (with the penguin) and Saving Private Ryan on an afternoon that work was cancelled.

Tried to buy tickets at the ticket desk, the attendant couldn't figure out how to do it.

Bought tickets from the self-serve machine. Was later informed one of the two pieces of paper it spit out wasn't a ticket.

The screen was definitely dimmer than I might have expected, such that the dimmed wall sconces in the theater were intruding upon my peripheral vision during the darker scenes. Seemed OK during the more normally lit scenes, but not brilliant.

The sound was good, not too loud. There were like 8 "Coming Attractions" at the beginning to enable some judgment of the bass during the repeated shooting and exploding stuff. I suppose it was all using some sort of surround sound, there were speakers high on the sides, but there was no "Wow! My home stereo is utterly incompetent!" sensation registering in my brain.

Picked a quiet time to go. Didn't count, but I don't think there were more than ten people attending the showing.

Maybe I'll go to a movie again in another 20 years.

I'll probably buy a new TV sometime sooner than that, though. The QLED stuff is looking pretty good.
Don't leap too soon on the new TV. You need a minimum 8k so you can watch a 100 inch screen from 2.5 feet away. Mix it with the latest Dolby Auro-XXSX 29.4 channel surround decoding. Get that real immersive experience. Then you'll be all set to watch the latest Marvel super spectacular release. A graphic novel adaptation of the Gender Infinity series story lines. Or a Disney blockbuster, The next to the last Jedi, Re-Primed after being frozen in carbonite for the entire reign of 6 DarK Lords of the Sith needing to rediscover the ways of the Jedi after suffering from freezer burn. Or perhaps some rarified Japanese anime in a feature length film.
 

Sal1950

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#18
Don't leap too soon on the new TV. You need a minimum 8k so you can watch a 100 inch screen from 2.5 feet away. Mix it with the latest Dolby Auro-XXSX 29.4 channel surround decoding. Get that real immersive experience. Then you'll be all set to watch the latest Marvel super spectacular release. A graphic novel adaptation of the Gender Infinity series story lines. Or a Disney blockbuster, The next to the last Jedi, Re-Primed after being frozen in carbonite for the entire reign of 6 DarK Lords of the Sith needing to rediscover the ways of the Jedi after suffering from freezer burn. Or perhaps some rarified Japanese anime in a feature length film.
Now your beginning to catch on D, makes me smile to hear it. :p
 

jhaider

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#19
A couple weeks ago we took our 5 year-old daughter to the movie theater for the first time. While she has seen the ASO at least twice that I can remember, and attended some couple live plays and puppet shows, she hadn't been to the movies before. We went with Regal's latest "premium" experience: some fancy screen, cushy seats, and immersive sound.

It was a weekend afternoon show for a popular release, but this screening room was nearly empty. There were maybe a dozen patrons. We sat about 1/3 of the room back, dead center, despite arriving while commercials were playing.

The picture was, as far as I could tell, fine.

The main thing that got me was it was way too loud. According to the NIOSH app on my iPhone peaks were 111.9dB! I got up and complained, and they turned it down. Thereafter spot checked averages and peaks complied with standards. Yet it still sounded too loud: edgy, aggressive, and unpleasant. That is very different from my experience with capable hifi, where on good recordings you only discover by how loudly the system is playing when you try to speak aloud to someone else. After the movie I saw a Klipsch logo on the surround speakers. Take that for what it's worth.

Our daughter enjoyed the experience, which was the main thing.
 

xr100

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#20
Went to the actual movie house to see a movie last night. I won't get into the movie as it never had a chance. The theater is a modern up to date theater capable of decent sound and good pictures. This movie was dark however. Very dark. Other people were complaining it didn't seem to have home HDTV resolution. It was the darkness as it was dropping all fine details so far down they looked black. My eyeball guess was this was subjectively somewhere south of 1/4 normal brightness. It also was pulsing up and down in brightness noticeably about every two seconds the whole time.
I can't remember ever experiencing truly poor digital projection, albeit I think I've only seen a couple of 3D titles in single-projector only. (I saw a number in a cinema that in the late 2000s had FOUR 2K projectors installed ostensibly to satisfy Cameron for the premiere of Avatar!)

As most venues are now entirely bereft of on-site technical staff, my understanding is that the practice is to have technical teams (in house or contracted out) assigned to an area who periodically visit and do a "check up" to see all is well. It really should not be getting to the stage that lamps are long overdue replacement. Increasingly, though, laser light source projection will be used (lower TOC claimed)--obviating the problem of xenon lamp life.

The typical problem, though, is the use of "flat" ratio screens with no masking! It works OK if the projection system can achieve near-black on the unfilled portion of the screen, but otherwise...

Also, whilst the sound is generally a lot better than it was in the past, don't count on reference level. A new multiplex recently opened nearby, and in one of the two larger screens, the sound not long after opening was very good. A few months later and it had been turned right down.

Talking of which...

The main thing that got me was it was way too loud. According to the NIOSH app on my iPhone peaks were 111.9dB! I got up and complained, and they turned it down.
Erm... reference level is higher than ~112dB...

Thereafter spot checked averages and peaks complied with standards. Yet it still sounded too loud: edgy, aggressive, and unpleasant. That is very different from my experience with capable hifi, where on good recordings you only discover by how loudly the system is playing when you try to speak aloud to someone else.
The better specified and calibrated cinema systems are OK at high SPL's. 120dB peaks. Multi-way active screen systems, digital loudspeaker management, and, FWIW, as much as "80kW" or more of power amplification. If you figure what's needed to get to those levels in a reasonable sized auditorium then generally that still implies that the drivers of even a pretty monstrous system will be pushing it to get there, but a bit of limiting should be used to stop driver damage (and hence out of control distortion levels also) and it should feel effortless enough rather than unpleasant.

After the movie I saw a Klipsch logo on the surround speakers. Take that for what it's worth.
I have only ever seen Klipsch surrounds in one auditorium; the sound was OK, but it wasn't super loud.

Some cinemas now use line arrays instead of horns for MF/HF, e.g. 6.5" mids with coaxially positioned ribbon tweeters. Christie Vive and Dolby SLS series are among those that include product lines featuring them.
 
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