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cinemiracle

Screenwriter
Joined
May 1, 2015
Messages
1,375
Real Name
Peter
I still vividly remember seeing "How The West Was Won" in Cinerama when it first came out (Plaza Theatre, Melbourne Australia). During the train wreck sequence everyone including me was either holding onto their seats or covering part of their eyes. It was so spectacular! When this "RailRoad" sequence finished, the whole audience gave a long round of excited applause and took several minutes to calm down. I knew one of the three projectionists and he said it happened all the time after this sequence. I have the BluRay with Smilebox, but there's just NOTHING like a live experience like this on the big Cinerama screen. (Pics from original program attached).
Audiences had the same experience with the train sequence when I saw it in Auckland. One of the stunt men lost his leg as a result of being injured during the filming of the train sequence. PIty that Melbourne (cinerama cinema number 40) never had a proper 145 degree curved screen but only 120 degrees. The screen was only 64ft by 23 ft. The cinema was completely gutted in 1970 and small shops built inside the former auditorium and which could be accessed from the side street. Years later the former cinema was restored to what it would have originally looked like and it is now used as a function centre. The cinema was also situated underneath the Regent (now a live theatre).
 

cinemiracle

Screenwriter
Joined
May 1, 2015
Messages
1,375
Real Name
Peter
When we saw the two people pull out glass pipe, and lighter my friend and I just quietly chuckled...I said "are they, is that...?" my friend was like "yeah, crazy".
Cigarette smoking was still legal in 1967 in NYC cinemas but who knows what they really smoked as it was the year of the Summer Of Love. I managed to experience that.
 

Desdinova

Grip
Joined
Oct 8, 2014
Messages
19
Real Name
Scott
Some great stories being shared here! Here are a couple from the OTHER side of the equation...

I managed and was a projectionist for a number of local and international theatre chains for thirty years and during that time, soooo many hilariously awful things happened. One of my favorites occurred during the opening week of 12 Monkeys.

At this particular theatre, there was no dedicated projectionist; it was a manager/operator situation. I tried my best to keep the other managers well-trained in projection operations (I was a union operator at the time and also a manager so I built up and broke down all the prints, maintained the equipment, etc.) but they'd always find a creative way to screw things up.

One afternoon, I showed up for my shift and there's a crowd of around 300 very pissed off patrons crowding in the lobby. I asked the doorman what the hell was going on and all he knew was that something was wrong with the sound and the manager was trying to fix it. Oh dear God, I thought, that's ALL I need...for her to be screwing around with my audio rack.

I ran up to the booth to find the manager frantically stabbing and punching every button she could find in the rack. I told her to stop and asked her what the problem was and she screamed "I'M TRYING TO BRING THE LANGUAGE BACK!!"

Oooookay...

It turned out that an employee who was occasionally tasked with threading up and starting the features (against my desires) had gotten pissed at the manager and decided to sabotage the show. He went up into the booth and ejected the second DTS audio disc and then left, expecting that the audio would be lost for the last half of the movie. In fact, all that did was to kill the multi-channel mix, the system defaulted to the optical track as intended and the audience would probably never know the difference.

Here's the problem: we had never run the print without the DTS audio and had no idea that the distributor had screwed up and sent us a French print of the final reel...so during a tense scene, Bruce Willis suddenly switched from English to French, along with everyone else.

I immediately figured out what was going on, but the movie only had about fifteen minutes left at his point so I went downstairs to handle the crowd while the manager basically just hid upstairs.

After I had the staff handling the two lines I had created (one for a refund and a pass or one for no refund and two passes) I went over to the auditorium to start cleaning it for the next show and this longhaired stoner wandered out as the credits were rolling and said, "Hey man, great movie!" I apologized for the screwup and he replied, "Huh. At first I wondered why everyone started speaking French, but then I just figured, hey, Terry Gilliam."

He got four passes.

Another quick fun one was during the run of Gremlins 2. Every time the film break scene happened --EVERY SHOW--someone would come running out to tell us the film had broken. I would explain that it was part of the show and escort them back in where, by this time, the joke was well underway. :)
 

randyoh

Auditioning
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
10
Real Name
Randy Michael
My fondest memory of being in a movie theater is when I was nine years old, sitting next to my mom watching Blazing Saddles and hearing her giggle all through the bean scene. There was pure joy in that giggle. It’s some thing I hope that I never ever forget.
 
Joined
Sep 19, 2003
Messages
19
1977 - the original Star Wars- Stanley Warner RKO theater in Paramus NJ. When the film opens and the ship passes from the rear to the front it was unforgettable. Second, How The West was Won, NYC Lowes Capital Cinerama- from beginning to end a spectacular experience to be enjoyed with a packed theater
 

sleroi

Supporting Actor
Joined
Aug 3, 2013
Messages
725
Real Name
Gavin Kopp
When Die Hard came out, the brand new Cineplex Odeon in Houston was one of the theaters to get the film a week early. I went to the very first showing there, around 10 in the morning on a weekday, and there were maybe 30 other people. To this day, that was the loudest movie ive ever been to.

I went back a week later with some friends and while it was still very loud, it wasnt even close to that first showing. I dont know if that first showing was a mistake or if they were testing the limits of their sound system, but it was awesome.
 

Joe Wong

Supporting Actor
Joined
Jun 8, 1999
Messages
639
1982, I was 14. The line to see E.T. went around the block. There was no way I was getting in to see it, so my alternative was to see POLTERGEIST instead, which opened almost side by side. I still remember sitting a few rows from the screen, the smell of popcorn, a full theater and the now famous first scene of the US Anthem kicking in to a massive closeup of a SONY console television as the transmission is about to go off for the night. And we all know what came after... I had no idea what I was about to experience...a Spielberg film that to this day remains among my favorites. I loved it! I also did not sleep a wink that night, because it scared me out of my wits. I was 14 after all, and in 1982 we were all a bit more impressionable. So, of course I went back to see the movie twice after that, and when I finally did get in to see E.T. it did not come close.

That said, back in 1982 there were not cellphones that went off constantly with people texting through a movie, and people generally kept their mouths shut...something lacking these days.

Same here! I was 12 when Poltergeist came out. One of the first films I watched independent of my parents taking me.

This was in Australia, and they had a 25 min short film about an English boarding school showing before the main feature.

Loved the contrast between suburban normalcy and supernatural horror. So good my classmate and I went 5 times (even suffering through the short film!). If nothing else, we loved hearing the audience scream with the clown and the skeletons during the finale.
 

Joe Wong

Supporting Actor
Joined
Jun 8, 1999
Messages
639
When Die Hard came out, the brand new Cineplex Odeon in Houston was one of the theaters to get the film a week early. I went to the very first showing there, around 10 in the morning on a weekday, and there were maybe 30 other people. To this day, that was the loudest movie ive ever been to.

I went back a week later with some friends and while it was still very loud, it wasnt even close to that first showing. I dont know if that first showing was a mistake or if they were testing the limits of their sound system, but it was awesome.

Aside from a couple of loud IMAX theatres, the loudest cinematic experience for me was watching Jurassic Park in DTS back in 1993. Ear-piercing!
 

Jeffrey D

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2018
Messages
2,041
Real Name
Jeffrey D Hanawalt
Some great stories being shared here! Here are a couple from the OTHER side of the equation...

I managed and was a projectionist for a number of local and international theatre chains for thirty years and during that time, soooo many hilariously awful things happened. One of my favorites occurred during the opening week of 12 Monkeys.

At this particular theatre, there was no dedicated projectionist; it was a manager/operator situation. I tried my best to keep the other managers well-trained in projection operations (I was a union operator at the time and also a manager so I built up and broke down all the prints, maintained the equipment, etc.) but they'd always find a creative way to screw things up.

One afternoon, I showed up for my shift and there's a crowd of around 300 very pissed off patrons crowding in the lobby. I asked the doorman what the hell was going on and all he knew was that something was wrong with the sound and the manager was trying to fix it. Oh dear God, I thought, that's ALL I need...for her to be screwing around with my audio rack.

I ran up to the booth to find the manager frantically stabbing and punching every button she could find in the rack. I told her to stop and asked her what the problem was and she screamed "I'M TRYING TO BRING THE LANGUAGE BACK!!"

Oooookay...

It turned out that an employee who was occasionally tasked with threading up and starting the features (against my desires) had gotten pissed at the manager and decided to sabotage the show. He went up into the booth and ejected the second DTS audio disc and then left, expecting that the audio would be lost for the last half of the movie. In fact, all that did was to kill the multi-channel mix, the system defaulted to the optical track as intended and the audience would probably never know the difference.

Here's the problem: we had never run the print without the DTS audio and had no idea that the distributor had screwed up and sent us a French print of the final reel...so during a tense scene, Bruce Willis suddenly switched from English to French, along with everyone else.

I immediately figured out what was going on, but the movie only had about fifteen minutes left at his point so I went downstairs to handle the crowd while the manager basically just hid upstairs.

After I had the staff handling the two lines I had created (one for a refund and a pass or one for no refund and two passes) I went over to the auditorium to start cleaning it for the next show and this longhaired stoner wandered out as the credits were rolling and said, "Hey man, great movie!" I apologized for the screwup and he replied, "Huh. At first I wondered why everyone started speaking French, but then I just figured, hey, Terry Gilliam."

He got four passes.

Another quick fun one was during the run of Gremlins 2. Every time the film break scene happened --EVERY SHOW--someone would come running out to tell us the film had broken. I would explain that it was part of the show and escort them back in where, by this time, the joke was well underway. :)
Great story about the 12 Monkeys debacle, especially the guy who thought Gilliam filmed the last reel in French.
 

Chuck_Kahn

Agent
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
34
Legend (1986): audience reads the opening crawl aloud mockingly.

Die Hard 2 (1990/91) in 70mm at the Cinesphere: People near row G start standing up during the scene where the plane is about to be crashed. They are waving at the projectionist to stop the movie and turn on the lights. Someone has had a heart attack during the movie. The audience waited with the theatre lights on until EMS arrived and carried the patient out and then the movie resumed.

Lawrence of Arabia 1990 at the Cinesphere in 70mm: Someone giggles at the shot of the goggles after Lawrence crashes his bike.

Adaptation (2002): I ask the pair next to me to stop talking because I'm trying to listen to the film and I'm told that one has to translate the movie to the other. Oh great.

Lincoln (2012): It's a small theater and someone sits near me and starts crunching nachos loudly at the beginning of the movie as Daniel Day Lewis delivers his lines quietly. I leave and ask for a refund. Mr. Lewis can't compete with nachos.

Psycho. It's 2016 and TIFF Bell Lightbox proudly presents a 35mm print of the 1960 Hitchcock
classic. Make that a severely scratched-up 35mm print. Why is TIFF so proud of these beat-up 35mm presentations? I always tried to see movies opening day *before* the prints got all scratched up. The Blu-ray looked better. And sounded better.

Back to the Future at the Cinesphere 2019: Some dude sits six rows downwind of me wearing smelly gym clothes. The DCP looks like jaggy video, not the 4K transfer released to disc in 2020.

Gremlins, also at the Cinesphere 2019: DCP looks okay. Go home and watch commentary track on the 4K HDR disc on my 55" LG B7 OLED -- looks way better than it did on the 80 foot Cinesphere screen.

Global pandemic.... theatres close... but I had already checked out. The theatrical experience in Toronto just wasn't what it could be. Dolby Vision cinemas were never allowed into Canada by Cineplex, which holds a virtual monopoly on the exhibition here. Cineplex started out with multiplexes in 1980 with tiny screens, so the passion for big screen movie palace presentation like the University was never in its DNA. And then they bought out the other chains. Fine, I have my OLED. I can soloplex in HDR.

I found a document online last summer called "70mm motion picture exhibition at Toronto 1975-2017" at http://web.ncf.ca/az896/03.htm It seems to be offline now, but scrolling through the 80's was like a history of all the opening weekend 70mm presentations I sought out in Toronto. The University Theatre played its last movie in 1986. It used to be the city's premiere big screen venue, it was there that I saw The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi opening day as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark with the snakes slithering in the surrounds and Top Gun opening weekend (the trailer was The Golden Child with Elmer Bernstein's Ten Commandment's theme). Jedi was so packed, the best seat I could find was front row on the right side and I swear the opening card "A long time ago in a galaxy far far away" was read aloud by someone who sounded Shakespearean like Ian McDiarmid.
 

usrunnr

Writer
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
545
Real Name
usrunnr
I saw "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" at the Cinerama Dome first weekend. Near the beginning of the film, the scene where Richard Dreyfuss is "visited" in his utility truck and the mail boxes next to the road are vibrating every which way but loose, the scene ends with the vibrating mailboxes returning to normal. The soundtrack is completely silent - the audience burst into applause - because, I think, it was masterful film making of the best kind.
 
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Walter Kittel

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 28, 1998
Messages
7,961
I am pretty sure I've posted these accounts before, but here are a few that readily come to mind...

Aliens - Caught it one of the larger theaters in the Houston Area on their main screen on a Friday evening opening day. Guessing the theater must have seated 500 or 600 people. During the sequence when the group is in the Med Bay just prior to the alien incursion you could hear a pin drop. Just utter quiet in a completely sold out theater. That's always stuck with me.

On the opposite end of the spectrum...

Terminator 2: Judgement Day - I went to a Midnight premiere of the film. Once again the theater was completely filled to capacity. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was a huge fan of the franchise and was pumped to see the 2nd film. One of the most energetic crowds and visceral viewings I had experienced. Just a tremendous viewing experience.


Star Wars - Back when it was just called Star Wars. :) Opening day on a Friday afternoon. Theater was not super busy. The shot of the Star Destroyer filling the top of the screen was another one of those memories that was etched into my mind. Went back for a second viewing with a good friend to the same theater that evening. It was completely packed.


Boogie Nights - What I recall about the experience was the electric realization that I was seeing a great film from a director who was new to me; with the anticipation and promise of other great work from this individual. Sort of the same feeling I experienced when watching Pulp Fiction. ( In both cases these weren't first films, but they were first theatrical viewings for both of these accomplished directors. Only later, via home video did I see the earlier works - Hard Eight & Reservoir Dogs. )

- Walter.
 

Francois Caron

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 31, 1997
Messages
2,442
Location
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Real Name
François Caron
1990s, a repertoire theatre in Montreal. The movie was "What's Up Tiger Lily" where Woody Allen mashed two Japanese spy flicks together and redubbed it in English with entirely different dialogue. It was a packed house and everyone enjoyed the movie very much! The staff was very surprised of the huge turnout.

Same decade, again a Montreal rep theatre, this time it was "Catch-22" in front of a small audience. Someone was pronouncing the names of the stars in the opening credits loud enough that people could hear. People were giggling, some were adding their own contributions. Then suddenly, most of the audience simultaneously pronounced almost softly "Orson Welles!" Overall, it put everyone in the right mood for the picture.

Then there was the "Spartacus" restoration shown in a first run theatre. Fantastic flick! The theatre even kept the proper intermission.
 

Brian Husar

Second Unit
Joined
Feb 23, 2006
Messages
463
For me it has to be when I saw Oliver Stone’s Born On The Fourth Of July. I was 16 and I fell in love with Epics. When reviews called it an Epic, I had to see it. Also, the raves of Tom Cruise’s performance. Me and my Dad saw it. We saw it in 70mm at the now defunct McClurg Court Cinema in downtown Chicago. The main theater was a THX theater at the time. Till this day, I remember seeing the THX Cimmaron trailer before the film started. Seeing this film in 70mm with the best sound and picture. I felt like I was a part of the film. During the Vietnam sequence, I kept ducking due to the sound of the bullets and the camera movement. I have never forgotten that experience. Still my Favorite Stone film. Today when I see a Marvel film in a PLF theater with Dolby Atmos, I hope to feel that same experience. It almost comes close but not quite.
 

Brian Husar

Second Unit
Joined
Feb 23, 2006
Messages
463
Another great experience was seeing Goodfellas in Chicago at the also now defunct Bricktown Square theater. It was a Cineplex Odeon theater like McClurg Court was. BTW, I miss that chain in the U.S. I loved Scorsese and this was my first Scorsese film in the theater so I couldn’t wait to see it. I remember shaking during the Cocaine and helicopters sequence. I was nervous. I felt like Henry Hill. I could not stop my legs from shaking, until the credits started. I wanted to see it again immediately. I also felt Cineplex Odeon had some of the best presentations around at the time.
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2013
Messages
25
Location
California
Real Name
Joe
I have had so many great theatrical experiences, but none has topped the one that showed me what a great movie experience could be.

I was very young, and we went to see How the West was Won in Cinerama at the Capitol Theater in Cincinnati Ohio. The floor-to-ceiling screen which curved and engulfed you was unlike anything I had experienced before. Particularly the scenes on the rapids, the Buffalo stampede, and the train robbery at the end. It turned me into a movie film fan forever and lament never being able to get to one of the revivals. And the best times I had with my son were at the movies. He often talked me into going to Opening Night of movies like Avengers: End Game and many like it. I never regretted it.
 

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SixOfTheRichest

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Messages
79
Real Name
Daz
Ryan's Daughter in 70mm in the mid 70's was a major one when I was 8. We missed the start of the credits and first couple of minutes or so. It didn't matter, because it looked stunning.

Watching The Spy Who Loved Me for the first time in the late 70's in a nice old ornate cinema in Auckland.

Watching A Little Romance - 79' and The Blue Lagoon - 80' in 4 track magnetic stereo sound a year later in the same 70's contemporary intimate style cinema.

One movie that I saw as kid was so memorable, it was also rendered unmemorable because I couldn't recall much of it after. That was Walt Disney's Escape To Witch Mountain - 75'. I think I fell so into the moment of the film that I got hypnotized by it. I recall sitting in the cinema thinking how small the screen was, then the movie started and then ended and I said is that it. All I could recall was the flashback sequences and the spaceship at the end, but I was fully aware and had not gone to sleep.
 

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