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Improving The Theater Experience

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#1 of 46 OFFLINE   Pete-D



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Posted July 07 2005 - 07:28 AM

What improvements would you guys like to see made? I lived in Los Angeles for 2 1/2 years so I was lucky enough to be able to experience theaters like the ArcLight and Graumann's Chinese Theater.

But there are some notable things I think would help ...

At my local theater they've been running a promotion where you get a nice glossy collectible movie ticket "card" with the movie poster art on it and the release date. It's part of a sweepstakes promotion, but its also a very cool collector's keepsake. Here's an picture of one for War of The Worlds (I got two of them for Batman Begins as well, there's one for Madagscar too I think) ticket on the left there -- click on the image:

Posted Image

Its a small thing sure, but I like having a little memento. This costs basically nothing, but its a nice bonus. I wish I had one for Star Wars Episode III and The Lord of the Rings movies.

I think theaters should sell more exclusive types of content for the big movies. For Episode I, I bought a gorgeous collector's book that was availible at the theater. This seems like a good way for theaters to increase revune and maybe even lower popcorn prices a bit, but you don't see this done a lot.

When you go to a concert or a sports game you can usually get access to exclusive types of items, I'd like to see more movie theaters offer this kind of stuff.

I'm sure you guys have other suggestions, specifically related to beligerent patrons at a theater and dealing with that. I think in that sense every theater should have an usher go into a screening every 15 minutes to ensure there aren't any problems.

I was going to say something about commercials, but really at this point I don't mind them so much. As long they don't get any longer (lol). It gives some people a bit more time to settle down and shut up so by the time the movie itself starts, everyone should be ready to go (in theory).

#2 of 46 OFFLINE   DustinPizarro


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Posted July 07 2005 - 08:15 AM

Hey Pete, that's not a bad idea of doing promotions for the big premiers. THe AMC Fenway did something similar when Spider-Man 2 premiered. However, I absolutely do not want to see commercials or ads. I would rather have movie trivia and the previews. Luckily some of the theaters around Boston have been good in this regard.

#3 of 46 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted July 07 2005 - 08:21 AM

Good question Pete-D. Incentives like that might help. I would have bought stuff for my favorite films, but I do anyway. Posted Image

The bottom line is the film quality. I know we've had a number of discussions about all the factors that have led to a somewhat lower box office take. That's really a different issue than what you're raising?

I would even pay more for tickets...seriously...if they would improve the sound and image, and seat comfort.

I'm always amazed at how a brand new film can have projection issues and flaws or how the sound can go out or sound distorted. I think each theater needs a REAL sound engineer or at least someone who knows a little about it to do sound checks each morning. The guy who just buttered your popcorn may not be the guy to do this. :b

For me, going to the theater is still the best way to view movies. It's that "theater experience" that makes us want to see the films. If you can't rely on the quality control part, then it's not worth the cost of ticket, concessions, gas there etc...If they can just improve the technical part of it all, then I would be less cautious and I know the managers would love to get rid of me. I always ask (very politely) about the sound and image. Who? Last checked?

Just a few of my random thoughts.

#4 of 46 OFFLINE   DaveF



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Posted July 07 2005 - 08:31 AM

In no particular order

- All films are above average
- Only have middle seats
- Perfect prints, always
- The right volume (not too loud, not too soft)
- Free, well-made popcorn, with butter
- Cheap soda

Since that's not possible, how about:
- Fewer commercials and more previews
- Cheaper concessions and higher quality popcorn (always smells good, always tastes mediocre)
- Kiosks so I can buy tickets faster, with shorter lines.
- Free online ticket purchases
- Better film maintenance
- Good restaurant in the theater so I can have a fun dinner before or afterwards.
- Better show times. 7:10 and 9:45 are awkward times to schedule around. How about 6:00 and 8:30?
- A cafe, where I can get a good coffee or dessert and chat about the movie in overstuffed chairs.

#5 of 46 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted July 07 2005 - 08:56 AM

THX certified picture & sound (Oops! Theres go's every cinema within 300 miles of me). Comfy seats electronic device that prevents cell-phones & pagers from getting a signal No children under 6 rule.
"Did you know that more people are murdered at 92 degrees Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once. Lower temperatures, people are easy-going, over 92 and it's too hot to move, but just 92, people get irritable."

#6 of 46 OFFLINE   Jesse Skeen

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Posted July 07 2005 - 09:08 AM

Trust me, THX does NOT guarantee a perfect experience. We have a new 16-screen theater with all screens THX certified, but it could still be a LOT better. Bottom line- theaters need to stop building small screens that aren't much bigger than what I have at home, and need to put more concern on the presentation quality (which means hiring experienced people like me and paying them enough to live on!)
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#7 of 46 OFFLINE   Chris Mannes

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Posted July 07 2005 - 11:02 AM

R - No one under 18. PG13 - No one under 13. PG - No one under... 10? G - Anyone. Parental Guidance isn't what it used to be. *shrug*
Chris Mannes

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#8 of 46 OFFLINE   Pete-D



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Posted July 07 2005 - 01:12 PM

Yeah another issue I have is I never know what audotorium we're going to get. Generally a multiplex will have 1 or 2 audotorium's that have the largest screen ... but you don't know that by just looking at the showtimes. So I'd like to know that info ahead of time. Agree 100% ... each theater, or at least theaters in a certain area should have an audio/visual expert who checks everything at least once a week. I don't think that's too much to ask for when some people are paying $10-$14 a ticket. Maybe they should have some type of light or something on the side of the seat which lights up to serve as a warning for people who are acting too loud or using their cell phone. If they have to be reminded again, they should be kicked out of the theater, period. The no children thing is tough ... what I would say is there should be no kids under the age of five allowed for any showing after 8 PM. I think that's fair. The theaters should ask for merchandise that is exclusive to the theater itself. Like high quality "Collector's Books", collectible movie tickets, exclusive posters ... that kind of stuff. Its a good way for them to not rely so much on popcorn/soda sales and I think there would certainly be demand. If there was a Star Wars Episode III Collector's Book that I could have bought or even a collectible ticket, I definitely would have gotten that. Same for pretty much any big movie -- Titanic, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Spider-Man, etc. Maybe theater chains/movie studios should also work with cell phone manufacturers on technology that automatically puts a cell phone on "buzz" mode the moment the audotorium. I don't think there's anything wrong with getting buzzed by your phone and discreetly stepping outside into the lobby to take the call though. Another idea I have is late screening/midnight screenings of older films for a reduced ticket price. A local theater did this about six years ago, we got to see Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen, but the print was terrible. Maybe studios could create new prints or transfer the prints to digital projection, thus giving theaters more incentive to switch to digital.

#9 of 46 OFFLINE   ThomasC


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Posted July 07 2005 - 01:30 PM

You mentioned how theaters rely on concessions, so how could you not know that most of the money from ticket sales is given to the studios?

#10 of 46 OFFLINE   Pete-D



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Posted July 07 2005 - 01:34 PM

Still, it's the principal. If you're to ask people in this day of DVD and increasingly cheaper HDTV sets to pay that kind of money for a ticket ... you as a theater owner have a responsibility to ensure the patron is getting the optimal audio/visual experience. I really think the movie studios themselves should mandate that all theater chains have to do this. Its ridiculous that many theaters have a teenager who doesn't know what they're doing calibrating their sound and audio.

#11 of 46 OFFLINE   Robert Anthony

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Posted July 07 2005 - 01:59 PM

Just to speak up for the lowly few--there are SOME teenagers out there who DO care and DO pay attention. They're not all bad. Nor all they all teenagers. As a former teenage projectionist (sounds like a 50's b-movie title) most of the other projectionists in my city were 30 or 40 and they typically blew. You'd just better hope the guy running your booth also happens to be a film fan. But people at theaters aren't really putting that on the applications anymore. I think age plays less of a part than the fact that its just a job for a LOT of people, young and old. There's no enthusiasm in it.

#12 of 46 OFFLINE   Pete-D



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Posted July 07 2005 - 02:08 PM

Fair enough Robert. I actually agree a teenager would probably show more enthusiam than some 30-something who's just there to get a paycheque. But really, these multiplexes cost millions of dollars to build ... its ridiculous that the theater chains can't hire a few trained people to come in at least weekly and check things out. Or better yet, each theater should have at least one person who is trained to know that stuff inside out. I'd even settle for a once a month calibration. A local theater I saw Star Wars Episode III at (thankfully this was the second viewing not the first) had *terrible* audio, I wouldn't be surprised if their sound hadn't been properly recalibrated in over a year or more.

#13 of 46 OFFLINE   Robert Anthony

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Posted July 07 2005 - 02:18 PM

True. And I think if you were hiring people that you KNEW gave a damn about the films, you'd get better quality stuff. But that practice ceased long ago. Because it means they have to pay you more. Hiring practices have been changed forever by McDonalds and the fast-food industry. As long as they can de-skill the job to the point where in three weeks, you can learn to be mediocre enough that the general public will tolerate it, the bean counters are happy. it means they can train someone else in 3 weeks to do EXACTLY the quality of work YOU just did. And the job market is typically rough enough that they can AFFORD to throw you peanuts for your work. Another lexus for the regional managers--a star on your name badge after saving room 3 from a brainwrap during "War of the Worlds" Now go sweep theater 6 and sell some Milk Duds. This work model doesn't allow for people who are enthusiastic about the jobs to actually succeed. More often than not, it's percieved as a threat to the management, because it makes either the other employees look incompetent, or it makes the manager THEMSELF look incompetent. And movie theaters have definitely been McJobbed. So much so that actually LIKING film and WANTING to work at a theater has become a NEGATIVE. And it's THAT attitude that has killed presentation quality in theaters, as well as service quality in the food and retail industry. Someone who really LIKES clothes will more than likely be overburdened and underappreciated at a department store, burning them out quickly. And people who really ENJOY movies and CARE how they look wont last long at a modern movie theater for the same reasons. Which is why your best bet at getting a good presentation is that either the manager, or the projectionist (hopefully both) are paid decently and really APPRECIATE movies. Otherwise you're going to get mediocre at best presentation. As far as theaters know, there's nothing in it for them if they go otherwise, except for lesser profits.

#14 of 46 OFFLINE   ThomasC


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Posted July 07 2005 - 02:45 PM

A friend of mine was a manager/projectionist at a nearby theater for a few years, and he honestly cared about his work. He left a couple years ago, and the quality has noticibly declined. It's a 20 minute drive there, but now I go 45 minutes to a much better theater (Springdale 18: Cinema de Lux).

#15 of 46 OFFLINE   KeithMoechnig


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Posted July 07 2005 - 03:34 PM

I went to see Batman Begins a opening night and the quality was horrible. I wouldn't be suprised if the calibrator was a stupid 16-year-old punk saying "more bass" all the time. I know it had some good bass parts, but the dialgue could barely be heard. I could do a better job. Also the guy had the brightness say WAY too bright. Pure dark almost seemed like daylight. That was one movie I enjoyed yet still refused to leave until I got my money back. also, theatres should have(besides better calibration) -cheaper concession stands. It costs my friend and I 10 bucks to get popcorn and soda(same amount we spend on tickets together). They also tried to charge me to put more butter and salt on one time. -better seating. Kerasota in Quincy IL has seats that feel like rocks. -More space between rows of seats. It really sucks when I can barely fit through the isle. -Better people. Other than calibrators, some guys "forget" how to make popcorn. How stupid can they get? - actual food to eat for dinner. It would be nice to eat a well-prepared steak watching a movie. - No kids 6 after 3 PM showings. I'm sick of kids talking when I'm trying to watch a movie. - No kids at all 3 and under no matter what time it is. - -No kids under 13 after 8 o'clock -Using the rating system. I shouldn't go see an R-rated movie and hear some 5-year-old whining that he has to go to the bathroom.

#16 of 46 OFFLINE   Robert Anthony

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Posted July 07 2005 - 03:36 PM

...wait, you sat through the entire movie and then demanded and GOT your money back? You're lucky the theater was run by stereotypical 16 year olds.

#17 of 46 OFFLINE   KeithMoechnig


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Posted July 07 2005 - 03:42 PM

...wait, you sat through the entire movie and then demanded and GOT your money back? You're lucky the theater was run by stereotypical 16 year olds. I told them earlier when the movie started and they said,"Oh we'll get someone on it right away." I sat through the whole movie and no one ever fixed anything.

#18 of 46 OFFLINE   ThomasC


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Posted July 07 2005 - 04:22 PM

Do that at home. I don't want to hear dinnerware clanking about while I'm watching a movie, plus the stench of different foods would really funk up the place.

#19 of 46 OFFLINE   GerardoHP


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Posted July 07 2005 - 04:37 PM

This is hysterical. You guys made me laugh real hard, which I definitely needed tonight. Thanks.

#20 of 46 OFFLINE   Chris Will

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Posted July 07 2005 - 04:38 PM

But you can contact THX and they will investigate problems in THX certified theaters. Here is my experience at a local AMC. The first midnight screening of Episode III in the only DLP theater in town. This theater is also THX certified. On the second trailer a front speaker blows with the sound of a loud pop and continued to pop through all the trailers. Thankfully it wasn't that noticeable during the Episode III, maybe b/c I was too involved in the movie. Being the Star Wars fan I am, I went and saw it again the next morning in the same theater and the popping was worse, now completely noticeable through out the entire movie. I did not tell a manager b/c I assumed that they knew about it. 3 weeks later my parents come to town and wanted to see it in DLP, so we head out to the theater, surely they have fixed this problem by now. Wrong, but they did know about it and here is how I know they did. They had turn the front speakers volume way down to keep that one speaker from popping so now the surrounds are 10x louder then the fronts and during loud action cues dialogue would be drowned out. On top of that the blown speaker hummed constantly during the entire movie. I told a manager and he acted like he could care less. So, I went to THX.com and filled out there form to report problems with THX certified theaters and left my e-mail address with them. I didn't really didn't expect to hear anything but 2 days later a lady from THX LTD wrote me back. She said that they where going to work with AMC's head technician to resolve this problem and she thank me for reporting it. So say what you wish about THX, at least they will put pressure on certified theaters to have decent presentations. I have had horrible luck lately with theater presentation and it will not be long before I stop going to movies all together if something doesn't change. At a different theater in town during WOTW they had a blown speaker that hummed as well, a kid (12 or 13) would not shut-up even though his dad told him to many times (take the kid outside and shut him up!) and some a$$ decided he was at his house and started smoking. I told the managers about the smoker and when they came in to investigate they just stood at the bottom a looked around. They should have walk up an down the aisles and found the person and kick him out. I'm to the point were I hate going to the theater b/c 90% of the time something interferes with enjoying the movie. Now I only go to event movie and maybe not for much longer. My HT sounds better and more balanced then most theaters in town b/c I keep them properly calibrated. If someone knows of a great theater in the Orlando area please let me know, the 2 mention here where Pleasure Island and Universal.

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