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Author Topic: Lost that moviegoing mojo
Pravin Ratnam
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 839
From: Atlanta, GA,USA
Registered: Sep 2002

 - posted 12-30-2008 04:22 PM      Profile for Pravin Ratnam   Email Pravin Ratnam   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I turned 40 recently. I realized one sad fact. I do not feel the same thrill I did earlier in my life at going to the movies. In the 90s, there was a time when I would watch nearly 2 movies a week on the average in theaters(average boosted by the nearly 3 movies a week I would watch in the summer). I would watch all kinds of movies back then - indie movies, foreign ones, action, silly comedies, even the genial bland ones. Sometimes, I would even stay past my movie and walk into the next auditorium and sample a part of a bad movie out of plain morbid curiosity(example: Batman and Robin). Earlier this decade, that number fell to one a week. But over the last couple of years, I am having a hard time watching movies in the theater on a twice a month basis. This was a decent summer, so I watched 12 movies during the summer. Though at other times, it is down to once a month and sometimes I go just because a life's worth of moviegoing habit built in a sense of obligation for me to go watch.

I have become content watching movies on my 60 inch HD screen despite the pan and scan atrocities(2.35 movies modified to fit 16x9) of HBO and Starz. Showtime at least shows OAR. Now I got a PS3. So I will start renting discs again. In a couple of years, 70 inch LCDs should become affordable and I will upgrade my TV at that point.

There are many reasons for my decreased moviegoing habit
1) Just natural aging. We have seen it all. Variations of the same theme over the ages. I actually have a hard time sitting still in a movie theater over an average movie that i would find perfectly fine on TV. In the 90s, I would sit and enjoy such movies in the theater. Now I get very restless if the movie is just OK. That was something I would feel in the past only for bad movies.

2) Worse projection standards in theaters. Better home theater quality. HD has really made me prefer to watch genial movie comedies and small dramas at home. Also borderline movies with stars , i can safely watch at home while multitasking. This multitasking thing is a big key for me.
3) The decline of indie theaters in my area. I think Madstone was the last hurrah in that regard. Landmark has a couple of theaters but they are too far away for me to attend unless the movie is great.
4) My peer group has been totally domesticated. They are more into what is good for their kids.
5) There are still talented filmmakers out there, but not all of it is in the movies. I think pay cable has picked up the slack for TV series that are movie like. (Example: I love Dexter).

6) Shortening video window:
Anyway, I might go watch Slumdog Millionaire or Benjamin Button today. haven't decided yet. As badly as I want to see them, the shortening video window makes me not have to wait too long if I don't see it. Plus, if you do not catch a movie in the first week, frequently they get shunted to the small auditoriums in most theaters.

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Joshua Waaland
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Cleveland, Ohio
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 12-30-2008 05:30 PM      Profile for Joshua Waaland   Email Joshua Waaland   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 

I feel the same way you do. I lost my moviegoing mojo long before the new millenium hit. Everything that the Hollywood machine has pumped out in the last ten to fifteen years, with the exception of a few, is pretty much crap. I find myself rating movies now not based on their merits, but on their level of suckiness. With so many sucky films coming out, when one comes out that is low on the suckiness scale then I usually regard that movie as one I can stand to watch again.

I can't believe how many recent films I have seen and then found out it was a remake. They seem to be real big on that in Hollywood right now.

If it weren't for my love of the film equipment itself and the overall feeling I get from being in a theater then I might have walked away from movie watching all together. As it is, I hardly watch any movies anymore since our eight month old makes it hard without having to start and stop the movie at least six times throughout the DVD. He is also going through a period of seperation anxiety from my wife and I and cries himself to sleep when we try to leave him with anyone else so we don't leave the house without him which makes it impossible to watch a film in the theater.

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

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From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004

 - posted 12-30-2008 05:43 PM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Pravin Ratnam
Worse projection standards in theaters. Better home theater quality.
...which these are the main factors that is gonna hurt the industry - why cinemas are heading towards Digital ... to keep the "WOW" factor alive..

..along with needed major attitude changes towards the POSITIVE: ("Welcome to our Cinema - make yourself at home") with these operations.

I know how that all goes: I know some managers who has the attitude on "what the 'F' are you doing in my Cinema - why are you bothering me?" (and do you think that the head office wants to do anything about it??? they turn a flippin' blind eye on the matter..)

They play the wrong lobby music-rap crap or hip-hop stuff that they (the staff) wants to hear, not what the welcoming music that the public needs to hear to feel that they're in a professional occupation.

No safety factors noticed: Gee! the lobby looks a mess, counters never kept clean..reduction of auditorium checks and the BATHROOMS, esp the womens - wonder how many women go in there and come out totally disgusted...?

Businesses like this deserve to lose customers since they've destroyed that moviegoing mojo ...

they're isn't anymore flipping "MAGIC IN GOING to the MOVIES" with these sub-standard operations !

Customer service is one thing-(you can have a lobby full of vending machines that can offer the same service to a customer), BUT, customer satisfaction is the main supreme in any business!

..and we wonder why home theatre digital cinema is on the massive upswing...

-sorry for the rant- . .. Monte

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Geoff Jones
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From: Broomfield, CO, USA
Registered: Feb 2006

 - posted 12-30-2008 06:08 PM      Profile for Geoff Jones   Author's Homepage   Email Geoff Jones   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I know exactly how you feel as well.

I still try to go to the movies, but I'm a lot more selective now. I agree- there are not as many really great movies these days... the sorts that you want to see again the moment you walk out of the theatre.

This is one reason I really support classic films. If it's good enough to show up in a flashback screening, it's probably pretty good. I've seen Temple of Doom and It's a Wonderful Life on the Big Screen this month, and had more fun at both than most new features.

I wish more theatres would show classics. It doesn't make sense to me that Beverly Hills Chihuahua is in 4 auditoriums, but there isn't any place I can take my daughter to see E.T.

I disagree that the move to digital will improve things. I saw Ben Button on a large screen at the Denver Pavilion 15 (auditorium 6) and there was an annoying clipping whenever the high end got loud. Will digital projection fix that?

I saw Bolt in Digital projection and there was a mark or stain or something right in the center of the screen. Digital projection didn't seem to make it go away.

Wait... Actually, I have Digital Projection at home, with no marks on the screen and excellent sound. I guess Digital Projection IS solving my problems.


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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001

 - posted 12-30-2008 06:35 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If it wasn't for the one good theater in my town and a couple of good ones in the metro Oklahoma City area I would be doing all of my movie watching at home. That is especially true these days with the big improvement Blu-ray now offers.

I have no patience for mediocre or bad quality presentation. I have little toleration for various audience behaviors that disrupt the show as well. I'm willing to put up with that crap to a point if the theater's presentation quality is really good. If it isn't, then I may not be returning.

I used to drive 200 miles to Dallas to watch certain movies -back when the Northpark 1-2 theater was still in operation during the 1990s. I looked forward to visiting that theater like a kid would look forward to visiting Six Flags.

Over this past decade the only movie watching I've done in the Dallas area has mostly been at Brad Miller's real home theater. The only exceptions have been Fantasia 2000 at a Cinemark IMAX theater and a couple of curious looks at early D-cinema in Plano.

A few of my relatives live in the Colorado Springs area. I'm willing to watch certain movies in the IMAX auditorium at the Cinemark Carefree Circle theater. I've been disappointed with show quality too many times to bother with any of the 35mm houses there.

Regardless of my age, I'm still able to feel that "movie high" if the movie is really good. Unfortunately, so much of what Hollywood is regurgitating is so derivative or forgettable it's difficult to feel good about any of it even if the movie executes the formula perfectly. You're still left with that "been there, done that" nagging feeling.

Life gets more complicated as you get older and free time is more valuable -even if you're single and without kids like me. So it's actually more difficult to set aside the time to get out to the theater. I'll do so if I think the film is worth it. Unfortunately for so many movies it's a lot easier for me to just say, "I'll just rent it when it hits Blu-ray." And there's no guarantee I'll even do that. I end up seeing a lot of well-reviewed movies for the first time when they finally end up on HBO or some other cable channel. There is a lot of other movies I never bother watching at all.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

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From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 12-30-2008 07:26 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This has been pretty much a dud year for movies, based on what I've seen. There are three 2008 releases that I really liked (Wall-E, Man on Wire, and Encounters at the End of the World). A few others were decent (Wendy and Lucy, Sita Sings the Blues, Diving Bell/Butterfly, The Counterfeiters, In Bruges, a few others). Pretty much everything else just bored me to tears.

Agreed that classic screenings are far more interesting. Fortunately, there are several venues nearby that regularly screen older titles. Unfortunately, titles that should do well can suffer due to poor promotion. The reissue of "The Godfather" played for a week at an AMC house with no advertising. Too bad.

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Jesse Skeen
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Aug 2000

 - posted 12-31-2008 09:06 PM      Profile for Jesse Skeen   Email Jesse Skeen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The problem is that the big companies seem to have completely lost the concept of the "experience" part of going to the movies. A lot of recently-built complexes have common-width screens, which really shouldn't be done. People can already watch letterboxed movies at home, when they go out the widescreen movies should look BIGGER.

If I may be so bold, I think small auditoriums (with under 200 seats) simply should not be included in new complexes either. The effect of many of these is like being shoved into a broom closet, and it says that you're a loser for choosing the movie playing there- the people seeing the "cool" movie got the bigger auditorium, but at least you got to pay the same price they did. If there isn't enough business to warrant playing it with a larger seating capacity, don't bother playing it at all- I'll just wait til I can watch it at home.

An ideal theater is one that people will want to go to REGARDLESS of what movie is playing there- even if there's nothing but crap out, at least they'll know it's being presented the best it can be, and the theater itself should be reason enough to go out. At the end of the movie, customers should be thinking "I can't WAIT to see another movie here!" instead of the usual "let's get the hell out". I don't know what it will take for the powers that be to realize this. They seem to think they're doing everything right as long as not too many people complain about anything, and whenever shows play to an audience of zero they blame it on the movie- it couldn't possibly be that their screens are too small, prices too high or their general presentation is sub-par.

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

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From: Lakeport, CA USA
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 - posted 12-31-2008 09:36 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think a fair of the blame for the lost magic of the movies has to fall back on the customers. People have become so used to watching movies in the comfort of their living rooms, that they have forgotten the etiquette that goes along with watching movies in a shared environment. The talk and text on their cell phones, they talk to each other, put their feet up as if it's a recliner (I admit that I'm sometimes guilty of this one). And when confronted, many have the attitude of "I paid my $10, I have a right to watch the movie".

I almost never get a chance to see a movie with the crowds on opening weekend. I'm either watching by myself late at night or I'm going on the weekdays when it's not very crowded. When there is a good movie on the screen, I find I'm not so critical of all the other things. Last night I went to the Rialto theatre in Santa Rosa to watch Doubt and The Reader. Both movies were on relatively small screens and for The Reader I could hear the projector chatter the whole time. But I enjoyed both movies and plan to visit this theatre again.

I can honestly say that I'm more concerned about the quality of the film than the quality of the presentation - as long as it's not distractingly bad. I can't recall ever deciding to skip a movie in the theatre just because it might look better on my TV at home.

Probably the biggest change in my movie going habits is I'm more selective about what I watch. The last 6 movies I paid for were Doubt, The Reader, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. But I'll still go see somethings I'm less interested in just to pass the time.

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

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From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99

 - posted 12-31-2008 09:42 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That's what you get for turning 40. Imagine how Phil must feel!

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

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From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004

 - posted 01-01-2009 02:06 PM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Justin Hamaker
fair of the blame for the lost magic of the movies has to fall back on the customers
But, if a theatre owner can have the right tact and knowhow, he can bring those customers back by rejuvinating that magic in his cinema.

But true though: we're in a different generation of the industry now were the majority of our prospective customers really don't know what the definition of "theatre magic" is.

They're used to the "McCinema" form of operation: get them in, show them the movie, and get them out and repeat the cycle for the next set.

Also, in the "McCinema" form of operation is the "McJob" work atmosphere: staff that are almost in a 'robotic' form of customer service to the patrons: deadpan attitudes and appearances.

Booth personnel with the same attitude: built the print, thread the machine, push "PLAY" and walk away without having a clue on ensuring what is presented on the screen.

Dang! "Ronald McDonald" really set the tone for our workforce these days....

Oh, and a "HAPPY NEW YEAR to all!"

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

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From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 01-01-2009 03:36 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It is exhibition and Hollywood's fault. That is, between the two, they've taken the profit out of actually showing the movie so the exhibitor HAS to worry mostly about the concession stand.

As a result, the whole theatre environment has changed. The theatres are not ushered anymore...which has taught the most recent generations that it is okay to talk and be disruptive.

The Theatres themselves are also pretty piss-poor. Not that they don't have up-sides but "pre-show entertainment" isn't one of them. Stadium seating was an outgrowth of inept auditorium designs with piss-poor sight lines. A well designed theatre doesn't have sight line problems, slope-floor or stadium. If you are going to do a stadium...DON'T have people walk down to the front of the theatre and then CLIMB their way back. The lack of such luxuries like curtains move the cinema experience closer to something less special...they are part of the atmosphere. Speaking of wall coverings...acoustic treatment...DO IT...the RT60 should be proper and the STC isolation should be high (in excess of STC-70 with STC-75 being a better goal). Projection and Sound...whats cheapest isn't normally what is the big picture, it translates to the overall experience.

One of the things I learned early on in my career was that EVERY theatre is an ambassador to the industry...a failure at any theatre, even if it isn't in your chain, sends a negative impression about the entire industry...not just about that one bad theatre.

Hollywood...STOP REMAKING MOVIES THAT WERE ALREADY GOOD...write NEW ones. And they have to be good stories BEFORE you start adding effects and crap. Shoot the movies in the best format of the day (whatever the day may be). Right now, it is 65mm, not 35mm and not digital. The higher the quality of the original, the better it is going to look for all time...not just on the release date. Cheapening out on production, hurts the movie. I've rarely seen where over-paid actors really helped the movie, particularly long-term. Sure there are some high-power talent that can pull-in extra grosses but look at some of the highest grossing films of all time...they don't necessarily have high-power actors in them (especially not high-end actors when the movies were made....think Star Wars...The three main characters were practically nobodies when it came out...the biggest actor in the film, Sir Alec Guiness was NOT the draw in that film).

For me, movies used to be fun escape. The shows, by and large, were well presented in interesting theatres. Nowadays, they seem to be just something to do if all else fails. There are exceptions, of course.

As to Jesse's 200-seat rule. That one I disagree with. Some of the best auditoria in the world are quite intimate. Seat count also does not necessarily convey theatre size. I'll put Silver III (AFI/Silver) up against many an auditorium many times larger. Technically, it is very good though it is only 75-seats. I'll put Silver II at only 200-seats (the bottom of Jesse's seat count) against about 99% of the theatres out there. I wish it had a curved screen...but that is my personal preference.


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Chad Souder
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Waterloo, IA, USA
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 - posted 01-01-2009 04:01 PM      Profile for Chad Souder   Email Chad Souder   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Do you think some of it is your tastes and standards just changed? I swore I would never like coffee when I was young - or classical music. I also used to think it was a good idea to get in line hours before the Pantera concert so I could fight for 2 hours to keep on the front rail, ending up drenched in sweat and beer and unable to hear much for three days. Not so much any more.

I don't watch as many movies as I did before, but its not because of the theatres. Like you said, Pravin, its largely variations of the same movie. 30 years ago, you probably saw variations of older movies too, but you were just seeing them for the first time, so to you they weren't variations.

I think another reason may be that you have more money as an adult. Movies are relatively cheap entertainment, but as you establish a career, you have money for new hobbies. I like guns and like to shoot - something I didn't have the money to support until the past few years. I still enjoy movies, but am very selective. I'd rather go hunting than sit through an Adam Sandler picture.

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

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From: Lakeport, CA USA
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 - posted 01-01-2009 04:39 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Steve Guttag
If you are going to do a stadium...DON'T have people walk down to the front of the theatre and then CLIMB their way back
Unfortunately a lot of the blame for the design of stadium seating is the result of ADA lawsuits. Theatres have been sued for not having accessible seating near the center of the auditorium or for positioning the accessible seating where people will be walking in front of them.

The various ADA regulations are something that really bother me. I fully agree with the concept of providing reasonable accommodations to those who are disabled. However, the overwhelming majority of the population (I'm guessing close to 99%) should not be deprived of better accommodations or a subject to diminished experience for the benefit of a small minority.

With regard to the sound proofing, I have to give my boss some major props for how our other location was built. Each auditorium was a separate pour and the walls have 3 layers of overlapping plywood. There is zero sound bleed between auditoriums - not even from heavy base. The auditoriums are so still and quite that you can actually hear it when you walk in.

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Ron Curran
Master Film Handler

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From: Springwood NSW Australia
Registered: Feb 2006

 - posted 01-01-2009 06:37 PM      Profile for Ron Curran   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Curran   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes Justin, regulators completely stuffed our cinema, without proper understanding of the regulations.
Despite a consultant’s recommendations for a good layout, the authorities insisted on a more expensive inferior set-up which reduced our seating capacity by 20%, mostly from the centre and the back. We did fight to retain the original disability facilities because our customers with disabilities still prefer that access over the politically correct one. Also, they get two means of escape there, as opposed to the single cattle-run of the new improved access.
Petitions, letters, meetings were useless against the obstnancy of local government.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12294
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 01-01-2009 07:26 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Justin Hamaker
Unfortunately a lot of the blame for the design of stadium seating is the result of ADA lawsuits. Theatres have been sued for not having accessible seating near the center of the auditorium or for positioning the accessible seating where people will be walking in front of them.
Not quite...mostly the reverse is true. That is, poorly designed stadium seating theatres that have generated ADA suits. If you design a theatre that forces everyone to walk to the front, then turn around to climb get an ADA type suit...why? Because the wheelchair bound folks get to sit in the front....only. Stadiums should be much closer to "center-loader as possible. Somewhere between 1/3 and 2/3rds puts your ADA people in a fighting chance of "prime seats" and it has the remaining folks not too far from where ever they want to sit (never more than 1/2 an auditorium away and often within a row or two).

I still like a properly designed slop-floor sight-line problems, no tripping in the dark, can easily accommodate all.


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