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Roger Ebert lays out why Movie (theaters) suck


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#1 of 61 Sam Posten

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Posted December 29 2011 - 06:33 AM

Word to the mothership. http://www.rogereber...TARY/111229973/

2. Ticket prices are too high. People have always made that complaint, but historically the movies have been cheap compared to concerts, major league sports and restaurants. Not so much any longer. No matter what your opinion is about 3D, the charm of paying a hefty surcharge has worn off for the hypothetical family of four. 3. The theater experience. Moviegoers above 30 are weary of noisy fanboys and girls. The annoyance of talkers has been joined by the plague of cell-phone users, whose bright screens are a distraction. Worse, some texting addicts get mad when told they can't use their cell phones. A theater is reportedly opening which will allow and even bless cell phone usage, although that may be an apocryphal story. 4. Refreshment prices. It's an open secret that the actual cost of soft drinks and popcorn is very low. To justify their inflated prices, theaters serve portions that are grotesquely oversized, and no longer offer what used to be a "small popcorn." Today's bucket of popcorn would feed a thoroughbred.


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#2 of 61 Patrick_S

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Posted December 29 2011 - 07:44 AM

We all know that going to the movies can be a hit or miss experience but going to the theater still is an overall better experience then watching them at home. In response to the specific points Ebert makes: What Major League sports or concerts is Ebert going to? I can't think of any Major League sporting event or concert that has ticket prices that are close in price to a movie ticket. Inconsiderate movie goers are unfortunately nothing new but on a positive note I have noticed a decrease in Cell Phone and Texting usage so perhaps things are getting better on that front. Who is dumb enough to actually buy refreshments at the movie theater? If you are that dumb you deserve to get taken.

#3 of 61 mattCR

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Posted December 29 2011 - 09:23 AM

I can see a Kansas City Royals game cheaper then the theater for the most part.  I've had no trouble getting $6 General Admissions tickets.   I can't get that at a theater, outside of matinee.


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#4 of 61 Mr645

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Posted December 29 2011 - 11:34 AM

Last time I went to a movie, I walked in with a bag of Taco Bell and a 16oz can of Miller lite. I bought my ticket and no one said anything.

#5 of 61 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted December 29 2011 - 12:29 PM

Movie ticket prices are highly dependent on location. Here in Albany, an IMAX screening is $17.50, a RealD screening is $15.00, an adult general admission ticket is between $11 and $11.50, and a matinée is $8.50. Other parts of the country will be as much as three bucks cheaper at every tier.

#6 of 61 Mike Frezon

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Posted December 29 2011 - 02:42 PM



Originally Posted by Adam Lenhardt 

Here in Albany, an IMAX screening is $17.50...


I just took my son to see the IMAX showing of MI: Ghost Protocol this weekend (in Albany).  It would have cost $35 for the two of us...plus another $20 for two sodas and popcorn.


Luckily, though, we each had a $10 Movie Cash discount from buying the Blu-rays of MI: 2 and MI:3.

I commented that no matter how wonderful I thought the 3-D IMAX showing of HP & the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was...$35 for two movie tickets is way too much.


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#7 of 61 TravisR

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Posted December 29 2011 - 03:09 PM

Yeah, I don't really bitch about ticket prices (though I'm not taking a wife and 2 or 3 kids either) but I paid $17.50 for an IMAX matinee of Mission: Impossible and that's a frigging crazy price to charge for a ticket especially in the suburbs. Generally a matinee is $9 so I figured it would be $13 since it was IMAX and as I stood in line hearing many people in front of me saying "$17.50 for one ticket?", I realized that it was more than I thought. I dug the movie so I wasn't that bothered but had I known it was $17.50, I wouldn't have taken the chance. I doubt I'll be seeing any IMAX movies any time soon when I'm paying $17.50 or, god help you, $21.50 if it's 3-D and hoping it's good. Not that it's a surprise but the theater chains didn't learn from 3-D's rapid decline that people get pissed by having to pay higher prices for lousy movies. Once the general public starts seeing bad movies and they're paying about $20 a ticket, they're going to stop going to theater and then the theater chains will start crying about how ticket sales are down and act like they can't understand why sales are down. As for the other complaints, I have no problem telling someone to shut their trap so that's not really a problem for me (if you hear about some dope getting shot for telling people in a movie theater to shut up and I suddenly dissapear from HTF, I might be the guy who got shot). And I'd starve before I'd pay the money for concessions.

#8 of 61 Richard--W

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Posted December 30 2011 - 04:19 PM

Ticket prices are too high. Many people can't afford to go to the movies anymore. A large portion of the ticket-buying audience for movies has been lost to the high prices. I never buy junk food from the concessions, but I never buy from the concessions period. I don't go to the movies to eat and drink. Talking and cell phone activity is a serious problem. All theaters everywhere should do what the Arclight in Hollywood does: before the film starts, send an employee to stand in front of the screen and firmly but politely inform the crowd that talking and phoning during a movie is rude and not allowed here. That works. Roger Ebert is getting so crotchety he's morphing into Walter Brennan in Rio Bravo.

#9 of 61 Rhett_Y

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Posted December 31 2011 - 11:31 AM

You can go to some baseball games here for 10 bucks a ticket. I agree with him about the cell phones and the like. Good lord people put them down for two hours and enjoy. Unless the movie is something we both really want to see we wait. We also tell ourselves, for the price of the movie we could own the blu-ray in three months and have extra cash left over to grab a bite to eat!! :)
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#10 of 61 Richard Kaufman

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Posted December 31 2011 - 12:52 PM

I haven't seen mentioned the main reason I rarely go to a movie theater: I can buy a DVD--even a blu-ray--for less than the cost of two tickets. Yes, I have to wait a few months, but for most films I'm willing to do that. My 72 inch hi-def Mitsubishi DLP gives me a far superior experience than the dim bulbs and out of focus images I often get at my local theaters. We have a really stupid law at movie theaters in Maryland: red "Exit" signs must remain illuminated at all times during the film. These lights are at the front of the theater, to the right and left of the screen. They throw light on the screen and are a horrible eyesore all throughout a film. It's incredibly stupid. Those lights should be OFF during a film, and it's easy enough to reconfigure them so they go on automatically during an emergency. The behavior of most movie-goers is not nearly as bad as it used to be. There was far more talking in years past. I rarely see kids using their phones or texting, but when I do I tell them to please stop and they do. But really it's a combination of the poor projection of the films and the low cost of buying a DVD or blu-ray that makes it so much easier to make the decision not to go to a movie theater.

#11 of 61 Jesse Skeen

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Posted December 31 2011 - 09:10 PM

Many theaters haven't done film right in ages, but most of them are switching to digital projection now, which is harder to mess up. The thing about that though is I've seen a screen door effect on 2 movies I've seen in DLP- I don't know if that's inherent in the technology as a whole, but if every movie ends up looking like that I WILL call it quits for that alone. Prices are WAY out of line- if tickets would go down to $5, they'd get more than enough additional customers to offset the lower prices. There's no excuse for charging extra for 3D either- they didn't charge extra for it in the 50s or 80s, so I'm not going to pay extra for it now. I would've gone to EVERY 3D movie that's been out in the past few years if they weren't charging extra for them, but since they are I've been to no more than 3.
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#12 of 61 NY2LA

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Posted January 01 2012 - 02:14 AM

I haven't seen mentioned the main reason I rarely go to a movie theater: I can buy a DVD--even a blu-ray--for less than the cost of two tickets. Yes, I have to wait a few months, but for most films I'm willing to do that. My 72 inch hi-def Mitsubishi DLP gives me a far superior experience than the dim bulbs and out of focus images I often get at my local theaters. We have a really stupid law at movie theaters in Maryland: red "Exit" signs must remain illuminated at all times during the film. These lights are at the front of the theater, to the right and left of the screen. They throw light on the screen and are a horrible eyesore all throughout a film. It's incredibly stupid. Those lights should be OFF during a film, and it's easy enough to reconfigure them so they go on automatically during an emergency.

I believe that nationwide fire laws in place for decades require lit exit signs in public places like a theatre. Turning them off is just unheard of except for one landmark Broadway musical that got a rare exception from the fire dept. to turn them off for a seven second blackout at the beginning of the show, and that was only if many other conditions were met. Such signs have been a part of the moviegoing experience for ages, what's new is that the lights in the projectors are now dim enough for the exit signs to be a bigger contrast. It is up to the exhibitors to ensure no stray light hits the screen, but here in LA we even have exit signs attached to screens, so your situation could be much worse.

The behavior of most movie-goers is not nearly as bad as it used to be. There was far more talking in years past. I rarely see kids using their phones or texting, but when I do I tell them to please stop and they do.

You're quite lucky there because here in LA even at the ArcLight (where they don't really patrol the place as much as make a show of hanging out a minute or two until the feature starts) people still talk, text, make noise, etc...

But really it's a combination of the poor projection of the films and the low cost of buying a DVD or blu-ray that makes it so much easier to make the decision not to go to a movie theater.

Very true there.

#13 of 61 mattCR

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Posted January 01 2012 - 02:17 AM

Actually, I had one of my worst film experiences in YEARS at the AMC30 in Olathe recently.. they have these "Cinema Suites" which should be awesome; reclinable barco-loungers, food on order, etc.


But, in the theater -I- was in, between the back row (where I was) and the row below me was A WALL.  I am not kidding, A WALL.   That stood about 3 ft., and as a result, the bottom of the screen - about a foot and a half of the visible screen all the way across was chopped - you couldn't see it.    So, what happened?   Everyone near me in the back row ended up putting their legs under themselves in the barcoloungers just so we could be "higher then the wall" and see the damn film.


It was, frankly, one of the worst theater experiences I have ever had, and I paid $15 for it.   Completely infuriating.   It appears to me as though in a rush to offer a premium product, they did a pretty horrible job of managing sight lines.   And how do you do that in a theater?!?!


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#14 of 61 Charles Smith

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Posted January 01 2012 - 03:17 AM

Stage productions of Wait Until Dark also get away with cutting every light in the theater for a minute or so at a certain critical point in the play.



#15 of 61 Everett Stallings

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Posted January 01 2012 - 03:49 AM

The last time I saw a film was Green l. in 3d when the feature started the masking did not open! They had to stop the projector to fix it. The person I went with told me that was the way they are all the time @ this theatre. A major problem with theatres now is there are no projectionists. I was one and I tryed to make every performance a reel show. Projectors need daily cleaning, oil, hrs. on bulb checked , port holes cleaned, etc. As a manager I tried to fix things like the curtins not working, rats! lights on the Marquee out for years,etc. And the exit lights in Maryland by law should be green not red as someone said red means stop? Any way they should not be bright enought to fade the picture.They need to put in lower watt bulbs. Also when "Wait Until Dark " played back in the sixties you could put all the lights out durning a certain part. The note came in the film can on when to do this.
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#16 of 61 cineMANIAC

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Posted January 01 2012 - 05:04 AM

If I read another article about theater owners crying about a lack of customers (or poverty) I'm gonna puke. People ARE going to the movies, in droves. Even those AMC morning showings are mostly filled to capacity. I, OTOH, have dramatically DECREASED trips to the theater because of rude people and ridiculous prices but the main reason I have stopped attending is the bombardment of commercials before the movie. I'm talking about some of the most annoying, network-TV type of ads in rapid succession ON A HUGE SCREEN for 20+ minutes. Sitting through all that clutter and noise BEFORE the movie actually lessens my enjoyment of the film. Add to that people crinkling bags, a--holes checking their e-mails every 8 minutes and the prick sitting behind you kicking your chair and you've got a recipe fir disaster. What I envision happening is a repeat of the situation in the 50's when theaters were losing audiences to television and they had to come up with ways to entice people out of their homes and back into the movie palaces. Who is going to want to schlep to a theater when you have a 70-inch screen and 7.1 sound in your home and no one to kick your seat? Theater chains are making more money than ever through attendance, inflated prices and selling advertisement but nothing has been done to increase the ENJOYMENT of the experience so they're actually going backwards in my opinion.
 

 


#17 of 61 NY2LA

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Posted January 01 2012 - 05:05 AM

The last time I saw a film was Green l. in 3d when the feature started the masking did not open! They had to stop the projector to fix it. The person I went with told me that was the way they are all the time @ this theatre. A major problem with theatres now is there are no projectionists. I was one and I tryed to make every performance a reel show. Projectors need daily cleaning, oil, hrs. on bulb checked , port holes cleaned, etc. As a manager I tried to fix things like the curtins not working, rats! lights on the Marquee out for years,etc. And the exit lights in Maryland by law should be green not red as someone said red means stop? Any way they should not be bright enought to fade the picture.They need to put in lower watt bulbs. Also when "Wait Until Dark " played back in the sixties you could put all the lights out durning a certain part. The note came in the film can on when to do this.

The much overhyped Arclight didn't bother to close the masking from the 1.85 of the trailers to the 1.33 shape of The Artist until about 20-30 minutes into the picture. So much for their usher kids standing there to ensure pic and sound were correct... all the end titles were out of focus as well. I'm not aware of any regulations of what color exit signs should be. Red is probably the most common I have seen, don't think I've ever seen them green. Red and green do not always mean stop and go. As for Wait Until Dark again that would be an EXCEPTION for an actively supervised very limited period. I wouldn't be surprised if theatres needed to get permission. And you could never get away with that today's stricter Accesbility OSHA regulations, etc. You have no idea how much trouble the fire department can give you if they want to. From not allowing Cathy Rigby to fly over the audience (she was forced to redo the rigging over an aisle!) to ripping out and covering up huge sections of the multimillion dollar set for Starlight Express, you don't mess with them. Cinemas have much less political clout than a big broadway production... And yeah, professional projectionists who know how to run a show, not to expose the bare screen, etc, were one of the first things exhibitors wanted to get rid of, and the experience is all the poorer for it. http://blogs.indiewi...led_showmanship

#18 of 61 RobertR

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Posted January 01 2012 - 11:36 AM

I used to be a big defender of going to the theater for the best movie-going experience. I still think that a great theater setup is the way to go, but I'm not seeing much of such a setup any more. Sharpness seems unexceptional, and black levels are VERY weak. I keep thinking it's a byproduct of dim projector bulbs and the fact that everything is digital, coupled with VERY bright step lights in the place. I remember going to the theater as a kid, and the theater was VERY dark. My home setup has fantastic black levels--you can't see your hand in front of your face during a blackout scene. With respect to sound, no commercial theater is better than my room-corrected setup. I've been fortunate not to have any obnoxious phone users, etc., but the A/V aspect of commercial theaters is lacking. I must say I'm really disappointed in what people are saying about the Arclight--I thought they cared more than that.

#19 of 61 NY2LA

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Posted January 01 2012 - 01:09 PM

ANY kind of projection has never had a total black level because the screen is ALWAYS white. With projection you have to look for a brown level, because when projection lamps are run in a dimmed mode, (try this with any dimmer at home) the light gets browner and there goes your white level, ruining every other color in the picture along with a dim depressing image. So the color to look for in projection is a true white where at home you want a full black. Sure a well run and well equipped theatre can still provide a superior experience, BUT... since exhibitors have dumbed-down the experience (and themselves) for decades, that experience is very hard to find.

#20 of 61 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 01 2012 - 01:21 PM

Many theaters haven't done film right in ages, but most of them are switching to digital projection now, which is harder to mess up. The thing about that though is I've seen a screen door effect on 2 movies I've seen in DLP- I don't know if that's inherent in the technology as a whole, but if every movie ends up looking like that I WILL call it quits for that alone.

I've noticed that on 2K projection but not really on 4K projection; the only time I've seen aliasing with 4K projection is on the white lettering of the greenband screen at the beginning of trailers. The ironic thing is that virtually all of the screens at the local Regal here use 4K Sony projectors now, while the digital IMAX screen that charges such a premium still uses two overlapping 2K projectors to "fake" higher resolution. One thing that has helped the theater experience too is the 3D craze. Most screens at the local multiplexes around here are really silver screens again instead of white matte screens. That's a necessity for 3D films, but it really improves the light for 2D films as well.