Hilarious Theatrical Projection Goof: Spy Kids in Anamorphic!

Jason Whyte

Screenwriter
Joined
Jun 3, 1999
Messages
1,439
Earlier tonight I messaged Matt with this story and thought I'd share it here.
I don't know how many of you have ever seen a movie projected in the wrong format, but I caught a screening of the Special Edition of "Spy Kids" yesterday afternoon after "American Pie 2". "Spy Kids" is a 1.85:1 flat film, but as I entered the theater I noticed something kinda strange: the people on screen looked a little chubby, a little too "wide". The luminous Carla Gugino seemed about 300 pounds. I sat down, possibly thinking I had just suffered through "American Pie 2" and my mind was playing tricks on me...but alas, nope: Spy Kids was being projected anamorphically! Which means the entire filmed image, which is supposed to be matted, is stretched wide across the screen for cinemascope movies.
Wanna know what I did to remedy the problem? Nothing. It was actually hilarious to watch the film unmatted (since anamorphic stretches the 1.33:1 film frame and masks it slightly to 2.40:1). Throughout, I noticed boom mikes, hard mattes, stedicam flaps and other interesting photographic tidbits that you are NEVER intended to see had the film been projected properly. What was even more interesting is that nary any of the 15 people in the audience seemed to notice. Had I been watching this film for the first time, I would have definately done something, but this was more fun.
Here's a hilarious visual effect trick you would have never thought of: there's a few shots as Carmen and Juni are flying with a jet pack through the city, and the shot consists of a shot of the both of them in a medium close up. Matted correctly, the shot would be fine, but unmatted, half of Carmen's head is completely missing atop the 1.85:1 safe zone and there is nothing but blue background.
After about 40 minutes of this comedy fest, someone in the booth finally noticed something was wrong and the problem was fixed in about three seconds...a button seemed to have been pushed and instantly, the film is reframed, relensed and focused in a heartbeat. This was a lot faster than a similar problem I had when I saw "Crazy/Beautiful" and it took them five minutes to do the exact same thing!
It's amazing how easy of a job this is and yet in this town, it is constantly screwed up as if it is lab rats learning rocket science.
Has anyone else encountered a similar projection goof in the past? I'd love to hear about it.
Thanks for reading,
Jason
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"Enjoy the Ozzy and keep your mouth shut!" George Plimpton
Film Critic, DVD In Detail
 

Paul_D

Effects Supervisor
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Jul 28, 2001
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2,048
When I saw Tomb Raider, the film was shown upside dwn for the first 5 minutes! And when I saw Scream 3, large black bars blocked off the top and bottom of the 2.35 aspect frame for the first 15 minutes!
 

Peter Kline

Effects Supervisor
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Feb 9, 1999
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Gee, I only thought they showed films "upsidedown" in Australia!

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Jason Seaver

Lead Actor
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I haven't seen it for an entire film, but I've seen flat trailers attached to scope films and vice versa.
 

Leo Kerr

Screenwriter
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May 10, 1999
Messages
1,698
Way back when Lucas re-released Phantom Menance near christmas time, I went to see it...
I can't remember now if it was at the second or third reel-change, but the bright boy who had assembled the print on the platter had goofed, loading that reel on backward. That is, flopped left to right, so suddenly the soundtrack appeared on the side of the screen, and the actually quite good analog stereo went to a truly spectacular farting noise as edge of the picture went through the optical sound head...
The next bright boy to go to the projector started and stopped the projector a couple of times; like he was trying to reboot it, or something. FINALLY they called in someone who knew SOMETHING, and discovered the truth. End of screening.
Not really the fault of the theatre, I saw another interesting bit in the initial release of TPM... this was in one of the thirty or so theatres that had the special show prints struck a couple of generations earlier than the general release prints. Good sound (actually doing some dirty tricks, there... taking the SDDS sound and washing it through the DD-ES rear-center extractor..) glorius picture (except for having been shot out of focus, but agian, not their fault.)
Anyway, that silvery Naboo blockade runner was landing on Tattoine, and it's engines were cutting out - that sort of popping noise like you get with a propane plumber's torch. Pop.. pop.. pop-pop.. pop.. POW! as the screen goes dark and the emergency lights came on..
Oops. Good timeing, though.
Leo Kerr
[email protected]
 

Brett Cameron

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Apr 18, 2000
Messages
88
When I saw The Others yesterday the projectionist had it matted wrong. Boom mikes throughout the film were constant, and everytime their was a visual effect their would be a big black bar on top(a hardmatte?), their were not that many effects in this movie but the bar gave them away(now I knew every shot of the house from far away was CGI).
 

Patrick McCart

Lead Actor
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May 16, 2001
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7,909
Location
Georgia (the state)
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Patrick McCart
I went to a house theater to see AI and there was something REALLY wrong!
I think there was some rust on the apature plate they used, so there was a big glob on the side of the picture for the entire running.
I went to a cartoon screening (I won't name the place.) and most of the 1.33:1 cartoons were shown 1.85:1 which eliminated subtitles and text cards often.
It's no wonder that I prefer movies at home...
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P.S.: There's no P.S.
 

Ken Seeber

Supporting Actor
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Nov 5, 1999
Messages
787
I would like to point out that the same people who scream about the black bars covering the picture on DVD are the same people who never notice when the wrong lens or framing is used in a theater.
 

Ken_McAlinden

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Feb 20, 2001
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Livonia, MI USA
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Kenneth McAlinden
The first time I saw Usual Suspects, they neglected to apply the anamorphic lens to the projector on the whole first reel. If you though Benicio Del Toro looked a bit strange in the Fenster role, you should see him squeezed 41% skinnier. I went to complain, and the teenaged projectionist took care of it as soon as he got a break from selling concessions.
Circumstances have actually improved somewhat with the opening of some local megaplexes, but I still run into the occasional problems such as Episode One being shown out of focus for its entirety and Stuart Little having unintelligible dialog due to a fried center speaker. Neither of these were quite as disturbing as chewing on that rubber band from my popcorn bucket when I saw The Big Lebowski a few years back, though. One of the occupational hazards of eating anything in a darkened room, I suppose.
In most cases, if you complain about these things, they will at least compensate you with movie passes. If they consistently have problems, then hopefully there is another theater you can patronize. If not, thank goodness for HT.

Regards,
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Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA
 

AdrianJ

Supporting Actor
Joined
Apr 1, 2001
Messages
532
While I was in Chicago for vacation, I was psyched to find out that a brew pub was showing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. However, during the scene where Indy goes to recover the stones, they left out a reel! However, just to make sure we didn't miss out on anything, they re-inserted the reel during the chase in the tunnels. Very odd!
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Adrian Jones
 

Jon D

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Sep 29, 2000
Messages
166
The first twenty minutes of "Kiss of Death" was great, sound wise. There were noticeably split surrounds and the front channels were very active. Then, the second the first big action sequence happens, the surrounds become mono and fairly pinched and the front directionality dissapears, and the bass ruins and hides, I think they turned off the damn digital system. And it didn't even happen at a reel switch! There didn't seem to be a good reason why, I wonder if the zit factory upstairs accidentally leaned on the switch.
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Women are often attracted to men with money and power. I have neither, and they know it.
 

cafink

Cinematographer
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Apr 19, 1999
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Carl Fink
I've seen both "What Dreams May Come" and "Soldier" presented with the reels out of order.
I also once saw the "Evolution" teaser projected totally incorrectly — the image was flipped horizontally, and the whole trailer was played backwards, from the end to the beginning.
 

frank manrique

Supporting Actor
Joined
Sep 15, 1999
Messages
798
The real problem is theater chains owners. In the past they moaned and groaned about having to pay qualified union projectionists wages (and showmanship be damned too!), replacing them with minimum wage, pimple-faced (I mean no offense, but this describe those who work at cinema houses for the most part), unqualified teens who now run things as theater personnel, little or no maintenance of equipment, etc.., etc., all lame excuses given by theater owners as steps to "save" money.
But it is our own collective fault as well for accepting such deleterious changes with hardly any complaining from the cinema going masses. Is there any wonder things are as bad as we experience them when attending the cinema?...
-THTS
 

L. Anton Dencklau

Second Unit
Joined
Mar 23, 2000
Messages
250
>The real problem is theater chains owners. In the past they moaned and groaned about having to pay qualified union projectionists wages...
I'm not sure if you caught this in the other thread but the theater that scratched the apocolypse now redux print is staffed by Union projectionists. (Which, of course, makes the incident doubly disappointing.)
 

Edwin-S

Lead Actor
Premium
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Aug 20, 2000
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8,429
--I'm not sure if you caught this in the other thread but the theater that scratched the apocolypse now redux print is staffed by Union projectionists.--
And they probably went to the manager and said "hey, we need a cleaning kit for the projector". To which the response probably was "What?!! That stuff costs good money. Let the film clean it out! Excuse me but I have to get back to whipping the popcorn peons, sales are down for some unknown reason....must be Apocalypse Now Redux, nobody wants to watch it. Cheerio chaps."

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Danny Knapp

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Aug 14, 2001
Messages
99
Sorry guys, my recent tale of mishaps is very plain. The first couple of minutes of trailers when I went to see Rush Hour 2 were all incredibly out-of-focus. You couldn't recoginize anything!
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I dislike Tom Green!
 

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