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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » Bad day at the movies

Author Topic: Bad day at the movies
Scott Norwood

 - posted 05-30-1999 01:52 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
I was really bored on Friday so I went to the opening day of a nearby 18-screen
Regal Cinema. Regal has been getting a bad reputation around here, and I wanted
to see what the place was like. I attended a matinee show of "Matrix" in their
largest auditorium. It was pretty funny...their automation system evidently wasn't
working at all. When the show started, the automation set the masking for scope
and turned off the slide projector and started the film--with sound and no picture!
After about a minute, the house lights came back on at full brightness and then
dimmed again--with an out-of-frame picture and no sound! The projectionist sort
of got the picture in frame and eventually fixed the sound for the last few seconds
of the "Star Wars" trailer--which, after having been run maybe twice, was heavily
scratched. At the start of the feature, when the automation system should have
dimmed the house lights, it instead brought them up to full brightness again, which
wasn't fixed for a few more minutes. At the end of the film, the douser didn't close
before the Academy tail ran through the projector... Sound was in SDDS (I didn't
think that Regal was putting in SDDS, but I swear that I saw the SDDS penthouse
reader atop the projector...maybe it's a temporary installation?) and dropped out
multiple times...even at lab splices (which I always remove unless they're on the
frameline and can just be blooped). What was weird is that the dropouts were to
silence rather than normal analog faults. Needless to say, I was not impressed with
this theatre! Admittedly, they probably always have some bugs with newly
installed equipment, but they ought to have done this before opening day!

Joe Redifer

 - posted 05-30-1999 01:52 AM            Edit/Delete Post 

Wow! Sounds like when the AMC Highlands ranch 24 opened up here in
Colorado! If you have experience with film and projectors, forget getting a job
there---they only want the most inept people as possible.

If the digital faulted to silence then it must have been in SDDS and the cinema
processor was turned down/off/broken/uninstalled/missing. Maybe it was one of
those SMART Panastereo units - I hear those don't work. Oh well. Regal didn't
get to be the biggest by being the best, that's for sure.

I have opened the booth at 5 or 6 theatres now and I have enevr had that many
bugs! Sure the automation didn't always work because we used bar code cues
and the readers were installed pointing at the ceiling but it only delayed the the fim
from hitting the screen by about 3 seconds at worst (the I re-adjusted the
readers). The worst was when I opened a theatre with the Christie CA-21
automation and absolutely nobody in the world was familiar with it. The lens turret
would do a half rotation for no reason and the curtains would close in the middle
of the show, etc....It didn't take us long to get new EPROMs and that fixed it. But
still the presentation wasn't as bad as you described...we just turned off the curtain
breakers and locked down the turrets. It takes a special company to give a Regal
or AMC style presentation! I love hearing "Bad day at the movie" stories!

Brad Miller

 - posted 05-30-1999 01:53 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
Well, there's a certain little theater here in Dallas that is notorious for ruining film. I
won't give the name, because everyone around here knows this place.

I was working this theater for a certain film festival that continues to host their
show at this theater (because they get the auditoriums for free) when a nice young
woman brought up 2 cans of film.

She explained to the projectionist that this was a BRAND NEW PRINT and due
to the cost of making prints, would be the only one they could afford to print to
"please be careful." Apparently she had put her life savings into making it.

What she didn't know was, this company was using the festival to "train" their new

Let me cut to the chase...even after I told this kid (who didn't speak English) that
he was damaging the film by loading it up dragging over the edge of the platter
deck AND getting the booth trainer (who left him alone)...I was told "that's
always how we do it."

Needless to say, when the movie hit the screen it was scratched in every direction.
A friend who was in the theater said the director went up and gave a quick speech
before the movie, as this was the premiere showing, and she started crying when
the movie hit the screen. I'll bet it wasn't happiness!

Adam Birge

 - posted 05-30-1999 01:53 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
What really sucks is getting prints from AMC. Last one I built after them was
"Analyze This." Anyway, they had forgotten to take their image trailer off of it...
Not much of an image. I decided to watch the thing and it had a couple of nice
green scratches and plenty of dirt. Then there was the actual print, which showed
how careless their make up and break down practices are.. Anybody else had
theses problems?

Ky Boyd

 - posted 05-30-1999 01:54 AM            Edit/Delete Post 

: What really sucks is getting prints from AMC. Last one I
: built after them was "Analyze This." Anyway, they had for
: gotten to take their image trailer off of it... Not much o
: f an image. I decided to watch the thing and it had a cou
: ple of nice green scratches and plenty of dirt.

Just goes to prove the old adage true, "There is a difference at AMC" and it's
crappy presentation and dirty film. Here in the Bay Area the dirtiest movies in
town are always at AMC.

You know their new tag line, "Changing the way YOU see movies"? It's true, you
see the movie through all the dirt and scratches they get on the print.

Scott Norwood

 - posted 05-30-1999 01:54 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
Ha! I hate beat-up policy trailers. I've been running the same set of two Dolby
trailers (analog only, one flat, one scope) with nearly every show since January
and they're still pristine and scratch-free.

Joe Redifer

 - posted 05-30-1999 01:54 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
A print should be considered RUINED right when it gets inside the doors at any
AMC complex. Perhaps AMC thinks that film should have scratches and dirt
because then it reminds the moviegoer that they are seeing film, and of course
that's how film is supposed to look, right?

I wonder what Japan thinks of America now that there are AMC complexes in
Japan? Surely they bring the kind of quality to the movies there that we expect
from them here. I'm surprised that they don't start another war with us!

Scott Norwood

 - posted 05-30-1999 01:55 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
Wow! I recently spoke with someone who had attempted to apply for a
projectionist job at a 24-screen AMC theatre; when he inquired, they responded
with a "we don't hire projectionsts" answer. They hire ushers and
popcorn-poppers, and apparently train (or don't train) the best ones to handle the
film. I don't know if this is corporate policy or just policy at this one 24-plex, but it
certainly says something about their philosophy. This person was not impressed.
Well, our (independent, single-screen) theatre recently hired this person. He had
no experience, but was interested in films and good with mechanical equipment;
most importantly, he'd been to both good and bad theatres and appreciated good
and bad presentations. After only three days of working with him, I've seen him
running 20-minute reels with perfect threadups and changeovers each time, and he
already knows more about film care and projector maintenance than people who
have worked for years at the chains.

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