A Few Words About A few words about...™ The loss of the neighborhood movie theater

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    An interesting and enlightening article:

    http://www.indiewire.com/article/were-about-to-lose-1-000-small-theaters-that-cant-convert-to-digital-does-it-matter#
     
  2. Bob McLaughlin

    Bob McLaughlin Screenwriter

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    While I hate to see any theater close, even a crappy one, I wonder what these estimates are based on. I wouldn't disagree if they'd stated at any given moment 20% or more of our local theaters were in financial trouble anyway, digital conversion or not. For as long as I've been alive, theaters have been crying a poor mouth while charging ever higher ticket (and food) prices--yet somehow there are still plenty of theaters to go to. Also the article doesn't take into account any of the jobs that are being created by conversion to digital.
    While the few scrappy neighborhood theaters that are left do have their own peculiar charms, I think the biggest tragedy has already occurred--the loss of the glorious single-screen theater.
     
  3. Billy Batson

    Billy Batson Cinematographer

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    As far as I can see, in the UK all of the neighborhood cinemas have gone, it's all cineplexes now, & I find them soulless places. There was a lot of really tatty cinemas in West London in the 60's that mostly showed old movies. Not all is lost, I have a tatty lounge with a plasma TV, so like a lot of people I have my own little cinema now.
     
  4. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    When I was a kid, this was my local fleapit...
    [​IMG]
    ...pictured just before the fire that lead to the building's demolition. It had long ceased to be a cinema.
    I pass this...
    [​IMG]
    ...driving into Manchester. Now a place of worship. And by worship, I don't mean Clara Bow...
    Very sad.
     
  5. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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  6. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Fortunately, the independent theater near me has gotten enough donations already that they'll be able to convert to digital by the end of the year. They plan on keeping the 35mm projectors for when they run prints of old movies.
    Another indie relatively near me is the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, PA (where they shot The Blob!) and I haven't heard them mention anything about converting to digital. It's great old theater with one screen, probably 500 seats and a balcony. Since the building is over 100 years old and probably because Steve McQueen has been in it, it's a protected historical site but I guess if they don't upgrade, they'll only show old movies on 35mm.
     
  7. NY2LA

    NY2LA Screenwriter

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  8. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Lovely film... :)
     
  9. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    There will very shortly be no "old movies" on 35mm, with the exception of prints not fit for an audience.

    RAH
     
  10. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    First off, let's be clear: no jobs are being created by the conversion to digital. If anything, jobs are being lost because digital reduces the need for trained projectionists. The equipment is pretty much idiot-proof. It is only somewhat fair to complain that the theatres are crying poor, but when the studios are taking anywhere from 80-100% of admissions in the first 3 weeks or more (that's why you get those "no passes accepted" disclaimers at the bottom of the ads and on cinema listings), not to mention other fees demanded by the studios, the $5 soda and $8 popcorn begins to make slightly more sense; after all, you still have to pay staff to take tickets, clean theatres, etc.
    One thing we can agree on: I miss the old single screen cinemas. The one I was local to growing up, pictured here:
    [​IMG]
    has now become a multi-use downtown business property, pictured here:
    [​IMG]
    At least they kept the neon sign.
     
  11. Guest

    My neighborhood theater, the Helix, in La Mesa (San Diego), California. The way it looked in the 1950s and 1960s. So many great films and memories. Long live Technicolor!
    [​IMG]
     
  12. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    I guess that's depressingly true.
     
  13. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    When the old neighborhood theaters all but disappeared, so did a way of life. It's not pretty out there anymore. Where once there were hundreds upon hundreds of single screens in LA, now there are but a handful left, and my experiences with digital projection have not been good ones - I saw the penultimate Harry Potter movie at the Chinese, one of the most glorious movie palaces ever - they don't even have film projectors there anymore - disgusting). The image was so flat and ugly and dark I wanted to vomit on the ground. I can't imagine they don't have the best equipment there, so that leads me to believe that if that's what projection is these days, I will no longer attend movies in theaters. The DGA has been really good about screening prints, but I'm assuming they'll make the switch, too. Then I'll just stay home and watch this stuff on Blu-ray.
    It used to be fun to go to a single screen theater in a way that going to Cineplexes never is. Sadly, those days are gone forever, and let me tell you it is not something to be applauded.
     
  14. Guest

    I worked for General Cinema for 8 years. Those were the best years of my life...all of the staff members became great friends. We all hung out together after work. Working as a projectionist was not all fun and games though, especially when Titanic kept flying off of the platters. It was a new polyester film stock and it was prone to static.
     
  15. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Some of us are hanging in. :)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    More here: http://www.bigscreenclassics.com/lafayette.html
    We installed digital & Real-D in 2010 to supplement our dual-35mm archive-friendly setup. Digital is used for first-run titles. I use 35mm for my classic programs, though it is getting more and more difficult to get the prints (and I got burned a couple of times last year with lousy faded prints and was forced to switch titles or show a Blu-ray, which annoyed me to no end). Warner recently told us "No more 35mm, run a DVD instead." That's not exactly the way I want to run classics, so we're showing nothing from Warner this year.
    We just renewed our lease - unless somebody builds an 18-plex down the road, we're good for another 5 years at least. :)
     
  16. Guest

    Beautiful theatre! I brought the theatre home! My outdoor theatre is nothing less than pure magic...Nothing beats 20ft. of cinema goodness under the stars, with full surround sound, in your own backyard!
     
  17. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I'm sure it will seem rude to say but I long since stopped caring about movie theaters. The first time they started showing commercials instead of trailers I knew it was over. Theater owners have no one to blame but themselves, they got greedy and reduced experience and piled on costs.
    Most towns never had the beautiful show cases like posted above and today's boxes are a shell filled with rude patrons who don't care about movies as an experience.
     
  18. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I'll play.

    Our big local theater in Albany--The Hellman--was "twinned" before it became a multi-plex and then failed to compete with the cineplexes at the nearby malls. So sad.

    Peter's images above put me to mind of the ol' Hellman...but, obviously, not as elaborately decorated (although it seemed so as a young boy):

    [​IMG]

    I have a great memory of, as a teenager, taking my mother to the Hellman to a showing of That's Entertainment while it was still intact as a single theater operation.
     
  19. bugsy-pal

    bugsy-pal Stunt Coordinator

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    That is absolutely stunning! Hang in there... I might pop over from Australia for a screening!
     
  20. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    The closing of the small town theatres because they can not keep up with times is a lot more than just the building becoming vacant. Any town should do everything they can to help the cinema work and make money, Whether it be tax abutments, no sales tax, or investing in the cinema it's self. The theatre is much more than a building with memories, it is a major part of the life of the and the center of any small town. Some told me that when their small town theatre closed, they would have to drive 35 miles to the mall to see a film. Well when people start doing that, then they start eating around the mall, they end up shopping at the mall and the stores around the mall and eventually making it a full day at the mall. The small town starts losing it's sales tax, then the local restaurants and stores can't make money then they close and then the town starts losing is tax base.

    This loss of 1000 theatres will hurt the small town theatres that are struggling today. The neighborhood theatres are all most gone or have been turned into art or cinema eateries and they will survive by being able to support the change. And your right, most small town theatres are not grandiose or magnificent, but they are precious to America.

    Going digital is not going to create jobs at the single and twin theatre, nor will it lose jobs since the projection job is shared with the manager or usher or concession, or cleaner. It will cause jobs to be lost at the multi-plex, about 5 people, one full time and the rest part-time.
     

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