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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Theatre Sends The 3D Cameras Back (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Theatre Sends The 3D Cameras Back
Jonathan M. Crist
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Hershey, PA, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

 - posted 01-18-2011 05:17 PM      Profile for Jonathan M. Crist   Email Jonathan M. Crist   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sending The 3D Cameras Back

DECATUR - Avon Theatre operator Skip Huston made the decision in April to embrace the national trend of 3D movies by installing 3D cameras in the Avon's Twins theaters just in time for the release of "Clash of the Titans." Four 3D releases and seven months later, however, and those cameras have gone back to their supplier, and Huston admits the Avon 3D experiment was a dud.

"I sold the cameras back and told them ‘this is more trouble than it's worth,'" the longtime theater operator said. "I do regret that we ever did it. The Avon is really not the kind of place for 3D movies. The clientele is not the kind of audience for the movies that are usually released in 3D."

Huston credited the theater's "art-house roots" and "upscale commercial crowd" with making it a less than ideal venue to screen bombastic 3D blockbusters like "Clash of the Titans" or "Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," two films the theater took significant losses on due to underwhelming crowd response.

"Too many times the audiences would turn up their noses when I said 3D, and we just didn't do good business on the 3D pictures we showed," Huston explained. "We had four 3D movies, but only did good business on ‘Despicable Me,' and I believe it would have done just as well if we had screened it in 2D instead."

The Avon's other 3D screening, "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole," enjoyed a strong opening weekend on the back of a promotion that brought Illinois Raptor Center owls to the theater, but trailed off quickly in the following weeks, once again leading Huston to believe 3D would not carry its weight at the Avon.

Another significant factor in the problem, however, was an oversight by Huston on the true cost of acquiring 3D movie prints. Choosing not to add a surcharge for 3D films as comparable movie theaters did, The Avon was at an immediate disadvantage due to premiums from distributors on the films themselves.

"That was something we never really thought about back when we brought in the 3D films - the glasses are free, but there are premiums on the 3D prints," Huston said. "The theaters pretty much have to charge a surcharge to make their money back. We didn't realize how much it was costing us until after the summer was over. Here we were all summer long not charging 3D surcharges for our films, and then the big, fat fees hit us."

For the Avon's Technicolor 3D system, there was a $2,000 premium placed on top of the regular price of all 3D films acquired by Huston. This was simply too deep a hole for most films to dig out of.

The ill-fated move to 3D was spurred by a desire to keep up with competition, but Huston has long believed the current wave of 3D popularity will recede in the same way previous incarnations in the 1950s and 1980s did. He fondly recalled 3D gimmick movies of yesteryear such as 1953's "It Came from Outer Space," but will continue to view the medium of 3D film as better suited for a special occasion instead of everyday viewing.

"I think 3D should have been used as an event, and that it loses its special appeal and practicality if all movies are coming out in 3D," he said. "I do believe that there is already evidence of some of the major studios pulling back on 3D a bit, like with the next Harry Potter movie or the next Batman movie. Everybody was looking for the next ‘Avatar,' but there's not going to be a ‘next Avatar' until James Cameron makes another one."

With the sale of its equipment, The Avon will withdraw from future 3D competition and focus on business as usual, as it has under Huston since 1999.

"Having 3D equipment is fine for some theaters," he admitted. "I guess there are still people out there who are forking over the dollars for 3D, but more and more the people I talk to say they don't really care whether a movie is in 3D or 2D. A lot of times you just want to settle back and watch a good movie."

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John Wilson
Film God

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From: Sydney, Australia.
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 - posted 01-18-2011 05:36 PM      Profile for John Wilson   Email John Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The fact he refers to them as 'cameras' and also that he hadn't factored in to his costs the $2000 charge leads me to wonder how this 'longtime theater operator' has managed to remain one.

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Caleb Johnstone-Cowan
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From: London, UK
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 - posted 01-18-2011 05:49 PM      Profile for Caleb Johnstone-Cowan   Email Caleb Johnstone-Cowan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Or that the 'upscale commercial crowd' might not want to watch any of the product produced in 3D.

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Sean McKinnon
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From: Peabody Massachusetts
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 - posted 01-18-2011 09:51 PM      Profile for Sean McKinnon   Author's Homepage   Email Sean McKinnon   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I thought that the Technicolor 3D system used special lenses on a conventional 35mm projection system? Why do they make it sound like he had to return the whole "Camera"

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Mike Blakesley
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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 01-19-2011 02:13 AM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
He based his decision on three bombs and one hit. "Cats & Dogs 2" could have been in 27-D and still nobody would have seen it.

I'd wager that this theatre doesn't do well with family films in general.

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Scott Norwood
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From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
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 - posted 01-19-2011 11:58 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If I understand the T3D deal correctly, it's a pay-per-title lease deal. As such, I'm not sure why he would send the "cameras" (lenses) back...he could just hold onto them in case there is a 3D title that he wants to play. He won't gain anything by returning them, and he might miss out on the chance to play something interesting.

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Claude S. Ayakawa
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From: Waipahu, Hawaii, USA
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 - posted 01-19-2011 12:13 PM      Profile for Claude S. Ayakawa   Author's Homepage   Email Claude S. Ayakawa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Any theatre operator who refers to his projectors (or lenses) as 'cameras' gives me the impression he does not know his business very well.


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Ian Parfrey
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From: Imbil Australia 26 deg 27' 42.66" S 152 deg 42' 23.40" E
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 - posted 01-19-2011 12:36 PM      Profile for Ian Parfrey   Email Ian Parfrey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Claude S. Ayakawa
Any theatre operator who refers to his projectors (or lenses) as 'cameras' gives me the impression he does not know his business very well.

Very well put, Claude. [thumbsup]

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Mike Frese
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From: Holts Summit, MO
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 - posted 01-19-2011 05:19 PM      Profile for Mike Frese   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Frese   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The costs are pretty well spelled out beforehand and pretty easy to understand. $12,000 cap per year. I am expecting to play 11 in my first year. The buyout is $6,000 per year. He has two remaining years. Hmmmmm....

If you go to his website, he pretty much looks to be a hybrid theater that we recently discussed. Rentrak has a 3d calendar that goes out for at least 18 mos. His booker should have advised him as to what is coming out in 3d that would play well to his customers.

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Edward Havens
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 - posted 01-20-2011 11:04 AM      Profile for Edward Havens   Email Edward Havens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I believe the term we are looking for is "grandstanding."

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Joshua Waaland
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 - posted 01-20-2011 11:49 AM      Profile for Joshua Waaland   Email Joshua Waaland   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Haven't any of you heard about this new system that filmmakers are using now? Boy, you guys are way behind! Films are now shot using projectors and then played back via cameras. It's all the rage. [Roll Eyes]

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Michael Brown
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From: Bradford, England
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 - posted 03-20-2011 05:44 PM      Profile for Michael Brown   Email Michael Brown   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Was working a shift selling tickets today - had a customer come in a bit late for his film. He ask me if I'd get the "cameraman" to wait for him before starting the film.

Made me chuckle a little to myself once he left. [Smile]

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Ron Funderburg
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 - posted 03-23-2011 01:19 PM      Profile for Ron Funderburg   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Funderburg   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes I wonder if two or three months is all that long a time to this guy. Let us hope this isn't the operator of the future, film, digital or otherwise.

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Ken Lackner
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 - posted 04-05-2011 03:32 PM      Profile for Ken Lackner   Email Ken Lackner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What I wanna know is why the crap did the writer of the story use the term "camera?" Surely the average Joe is smart enough to know the difference between a camera and a projector, and the idiots referring to projectors as cameras are the underwhelming minority. No?

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Ian Parfrey
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From: Imbil Australia 26 deg 27' 42.66" S 152 deg 42' 23.40" E
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 - posted 04-05-2011 05:29 PM      Profile for Ian Parfrey   Email Ian Parfrey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The frightening thing is that we as professionals do our damnedest to give these people the best show possible as it is them who ultimately dictate what succeeds and what doesn't.

'If you gave a hundred monkeys a typewriter each ....'

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