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Author Topic: Hilarious newspaper article
Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12451
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-15-2000 01:03 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For your reading pleasure here is an article from today's Billings (Montana) Gazette. It's about Carmike Theatres, which owns all the theatres in Billings, and particularly about their now-closed dollar house....

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‘Buck joint’ memories were worth every penny
By Ed Kemmick
Gazette Staff

Cine 7, still referred to in my family as the “buck joint” long after it raised ticket prices to $1.50 and then to $2, is no more.
I know a lot of people will say good riddance, thinking of the movie theater’s broken seats, the sticky floors, the faulty projectors and the screens with more holes than a backwoods stop sign.

Not me. As a lifelong devotee of dives, whether they’re serving up food, alcohol or movies, I note the passing of the Cine 7 with a tear in my eye.

The buck joint was owned by Carmike Cinemas Inc., the Georgia movie conglomerate that bought every theater in town and then all but emblazoned its motto on every screen: “Take it or leave it.” Georgia is a long way from Billings, and when people here complained about shoddy treatment, I think their lamentations faded out in mid-Missouri, never reaching Carmike’s inner sanctum.

For years, it was a chancy proposition going to any of the Carmike theaters in Billings. Even the full-price joints were plagued by constant problems, from minor ones like projectors that wouldn’t focus to occasions on which the movies simply stopped, the lights came up and patrons were kindly asked to leave, with a rain check.

One time, 15 minutes into a movie, the projector suddenly went into hyper-fast motion, speeding through at least 10 minutes of film in a matter of seconds before shutting down. There was one of those long pauses during which weary patrons all wondered whose turn it was to go fetch the “manager,” though we all knew the “manager” was a 17-year-old kid making minimum wage.

So somebody finally went to find him, we waited five minutes and then we heard the “manager” up in the projection booth, wrestling with the projector and swearing so loudly that every choice obscenity was heard by everyone in the theater. He eventually “fixed” the problem, but the movie started up where it left off, minus the 10 minutes.

The problems encountered at the full-price Carmikes were nothing compared to the incredible snafus that were a daily occurrence at the buck joint. Half the fun of going there was wondering how they could possibly top the last screw-up. God bless them, they almost always managed to do it.

On one occasion, on a hot summer day, the temperature in one of the buck-joint auditoriums was hovering in the mid-50s. I had packed a sweater along, well aware that Carmike knows no seasons, so I thought I was going to be all right. But as soon as I sat down, I heard the loud, echoing plunk! of dripping water. The enormous drops continued to fall at 10- or 15-second intervals, so loud and annoying that I knew I wouldn’t last five more minutes.

I walked around in the dark theater until discovering the bucket of water, nearly full, that was catching the drip. So I went to the “manager” for an explanation. He gave me a big smile and said, “Yeah, that’s the air-conditioner. It’s busted. We can’t turn it down.” He said this as if announcing that it was a special attraction, for which there would be no extra charge.

For real enjoyment, though, it’s hard to top being directed into one theater, seeing the wrong movie come on the screen and then being herded into another auditorium. As we shuffled up the aisle, I kept waiting to feel a cattle prod hurrying me along.

A garden-variety nightmare at the buck joint was a projector that seemed to think it was being aimed at a much bigger screen. The actors’ faces were hilariously elongated, bulging right off the screen. It was hilarious, I might add, for a minute or two, when viewing it became a form of torture.

Sometimes the sound would come blaring out at ear-shattering levels, and it would stay there until a delegate from the audience would find a “manager” and get the thing turned down. Other times, the sound was fuzzy or blurred from the start, and there was nothing that could be done about it, evidently. You just sat there and tried to figure out what was going on as well as you could.

Then there were the collapsing chairs, the broken cup holders that you used at your peril and the movies that appeared on the screen upside down. Sometimes the picture was cut in half, and sometimes, I swear, the movie must have caught on fire, because smoke came seeping out of the projection booth.

You may ask why I submitted myself to so much abuse over the years, why I expected anything more at a “buck joint.” Well, I’m cheap. Most of the time, I just couldn’t see shelling out 15 or 20 bucks to take half my family to the movies, or just one of my daughters and a friend. And the fact is, way too many movies, especially the ones aimed at kids, are worth just about a buck.

Things have improved in Carmike Land. The company’s new Wynnsong 10 theater next to Rimrock Mall hasn’t insulted my intelligence or my sense of decorum yet, and I don’t recall any recent blunders at Carmike Cinema 7 on Overland Avenue.

The buck joint’s problems continued right to the end, which came two weeks ago. Carmike never did explain the closure, keeping as mum as it had on every other occasion over the years. But it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Aug. 8, citing “higher theater costs and depreciation associated with the significant number of theaters we opened in 1999.”

In other words, the money Carmike spent on its new Wynnsong-style theaters apparently led to the closure of the buck joint.

It should be reassuring to witness the demise of a dive and the creation of a new, much-improved theater complex in town, but I miss the buck joint already.

I could try to re-create the experience at home, renting well-worn videos, watching them on an upside-down television and eating popcorn topped with 30-weight oil, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

Misery, and movie-goers, love company.


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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17689
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 10-15-2000 01:22 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Ha ha. That's pretty funny. Reminds me of the old Cineplex Odeon Promenade in Dallas! (One of our forum members here actually started there. )

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Aaron Sisemore
Flaming Ribs beat Reeses Peanut Butter Cups any day!

Posts: 3061
From: Rockwall TX USA
Registered: Sep 1999


 - posted 10-15-2000 01:59 PM      Profile for Aaron Sisemore   Email Aaron Sisemore   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
>> the projector suddenly went into hyper-fast motion, speeding through at least 10 minutes of film in a matter of seconds before shutting down.<<

How in the hell did THIS happen with a standard 35mm projector?!?!

There has gotta be the stumper of all stumpers... Pat? any ideas?

Aaron


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Sean McKinnon
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1574
From: Peabody Massachusetts
Registered: Sep 2000


 - posted 10-15-2000 02:10 PM      Profile for Sean McKinnon   Email Sean McKinnon   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"A garden-variety nightmare at the buck joint was a projector that seemed to think it was being aimed at a much bigger screen. The actors’ faces were hilariously elongated, bulging right off the screen. It was hilarious, I might add, for a minute or two, when viewing it became a form of torture. "

Looks like someone forgot to put in the scope lens!!!!

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Steve Scott
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1300
From: Minneapolis, MN
Registered: Sep 2000


 - posted 10-15-2000 02:30 PM      Profile for Steve Scott   Email Steve Scott   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
An old Carmike $1.50 house I frequent in Des Moines, IA has the same problem. The last few shows I saw there, the trailers on a wouldn't match the lens; or, the trailers would all be flat (w/ a flat lens until the projectionist switched the lens to scope (for the scope movie). Talk about lack of compatabillity!!

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"Trying is the first step towards failure!"
-Homer Simpson

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Paul Konen
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 981
From: Frisco, TX. (North of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-16-2000 09:40 AM      Profile for Paul Konen   Email Paul Konen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Brad, I think I remember that place. On Preston and Belt Line? Now the site of a new Kroger or Albertsons.

Yea, we "really enjoyed" the spring in the butt during the show, or the run down the long hall to get to an auditorium, etc.

Those seats were almost as nice as the Loews 5 and 6 that are in Plano.

Not missed in my family.

Paul.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12451
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-16-2000 11:52 AM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My guess on the "hyper fast motion" part is that the projector lost is lower loop and the film was just running thru the gate.

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Mike Spaeth
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1112
From: Hampton, GA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 10-16-2000 01:36 PM      Profile for Mike Spaeth   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Spaeth   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm gonna put my limited booth knowledge to the test here. Could the "hyper-fast" film speed be due to the belt on the idler pulley breaking in the Simplex 5-Star sound-head?

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Jason Burroughs
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 654
From: Allen, TX
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-16-2000 03:27 PM      Profile for Jason Burroughs   Email Jason Burroughs   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yep, it's me!
I started working in theatres at the now gone Cineplex Odeon Promenade 6, aka the Shitty Plex Odor-on, at one time it was THE show palace of the South, starting off as once screen, and then later added onto with a 2nd screen, which untill the day

Tom Kroening
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 214
From: Janesville, WI USA
Registered: Oct 1999


 - posted 10-20-2000 01:19 AM      Profile for Tom Kroening   Email Tom Kroening   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'd have to agree with the lower loop theory. Or the trap could have flung open. I had that problem twice in the same showing of the kid. Someone had losened the latch... damn kids!

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12451
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-24-2000 12:28 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Turns out the dollar house mentioned above is going to re-open ... something about their lease. I didn't catch the "full story" on the news, but apparently Carmike went in to start removing seats, equipment and etc. and got in trouble over a clause in the lease preventing equipment removal while the lease is in force. So they are re-opening, with ticket prices of 99¢ (they were $2 when they closed). Bet that will be a fine operation!

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Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 03-28-2001 07:20 PM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Mike,

I don't even want to know!

------------------
Andrew McCrea

"I'm Not Bad, I'm Just Drawn That Way!" - Jessica Rabbit

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