Cinema Product Reviews

New plastic Fox 35mm print shipping cases
Manufacturer:  Unknown
Grade: F
Reviewed May 2003 by Brad Miller

Here they are.  These cans were released to the public on April 30, 2003 with Fox's release of X-Men 2.
At first glance these new shipping cases seem promising.  Indeed I was very excited to get them.

Finally the dts case fits properly in the "cans" alongside loose trailers.  Of course this doesn't solve the problem once the print is shipped back without the loose trailers, for the reels will still bang around...sending the clip together reels to an early grave.  (Sure there are little grooves for the reels to sit in that are supposed to prevent this from happening, but I guarantee you that it won't work.)  Why the depots can't send all of the "loose" trailers in a separate box/bag/whatever is beyond me.

Now let's first focus on the positives.

Ok, that just about wraps up the positives.  Now let's look at the negatives.

Here we find the first annoyance of this new case design...and what an annoyance it is!  These cases were designed with a "dual hinge", for lack of a better term.  You really have to spend some time working the lid to sandwich it with the base in order to be able to close the thing.  This just doesn't work.  Well, technically it does work, but it wastes a lot of time and is aggravating to have to deal with.  I can only imagine what the guys packing films at the depot must be cursing over this.  Those guys really don't have the time to be playing jack-around trying to close the lids to get the shipments out.

Before we proceed, notice the raised area on the edge of the case.  Guess what, these are not stackable!  Why, why, why did they do this?  This is just stupidity in overdrive.  You can't stack them on their sides, horizontally, vertically, on edge...these just don't stack at all.  Just try and stack several of these on a dolly and wheel it around.  Watch as the cans refuse to sit atop each other and keep racing each other to the ground.  Watch in awe at the unnecessary abuse to the containers and film contents inside.  With these cases being roughly a square, this should have been obvious, but someone had their brain off during the design and didn't think about it.  Come on guys, please wake up.

Now this latch is somewhat decent.  It's a little weird and I'm afraid it won't last the test of time, but I suppose it's decent.  Above is a picture of the latch in the open position.

And here it is in the closed position.  There is just enough "grab" to keep the cans closed when empty for moving around the booth, but this falls severely short for the duty required for actual shipping.

Now before we continue to the next picture ask yourself "what would I do to fix this problem?"  Odds are you would NOT come up with the manufacturer's final solution.  Check it out.

YES!  THIS IS JUST SWELL!  There's nothing better than a bendable and super flimsy plastic pin to latch the cases shut for shipping.  Sheer super-human genius!!!  What could possibly make this pin better?  Why sizing it so close to the hole it is supposed to push through would make inserting and removing it extra hard, which is clearly the goal here.  I honestly had to take a pair of vice grips to pull one of these pins out just to get access to the film inside!  Now tell me what combination of tools (a hammer is a given) will I have to use to jam that stupid pin back in there when the film is ready to go back to the depot?  I'm open to suggestions.  (Watch as I cut that stupid pin off with my wire clippers and super glue the lid shut.  Just watch!)

But wait, what if the pins get lost?  No problem!  That's what the really flimsy plastic "cord" is there for.  Why there's just no way that would EVER break!  Yes indeedy, this is a fabulous design any way you look at it.  (For those of you who don't see a problem with this, I was laying the sarcasm on hard there.)

So in conclusion, we have a "nice try but no banana" for whoever the mystery company is that designed and manufactured these cases.  This is really ashamed for two reasons.  First, the existing cans really need to be retired.  They are dirty, dented, have broken latches (although at least the latches on those cans lasted 50+ years) and are 30 pounds empty!  Second, mark my word another order for these monsters from hell will be placed before the bugs are worked out and they will end up flooding the depots and invading our projection rooms more and more.  If it wasn't for the issue with closing the lid to the base, the lack of stackability and that pathetic excuse for a latch, I would have given this an A rating.  As it stands, it is wholeheartedly deserving of an F.  If anyone is reading this at Fox, please do not buy any more of these until these issues are fixed!!!

Bottom Line: If you see one of these entering your theater, get out your tool kit and prepare to exercise your curse words.

--Brad Miller

Brad Miller is that guy who runs this web site.  He runs an independent engineering service company by the same name of "Film-Tech" and the company also manufacturers film cleaning products, notably FilmGuard.  On the side and for fun, he has always kept a projectionist position at a local theater because "A: I love it and B: it gives me a chance to test and demo my film cleaning products in real life situations".

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