One Week at the Movies

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Lew Crippen, Feb 26, 2005.

  1. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    There have been several different threads that have detailed bad theater experiences. The Academy Award season has inspired me to detail a week’s worth of movie going—the good and the bad (possible some ugly).

    To be fair, I am altering my normal attendance a bit. I won’t attend the same theater twice, I will attend theaters in the suburbs as well as the city, I’ll try to attend some evening screenings (even though I almost exclusively see matinees) and I’ll try to watch a variety of types of movies.

    Your comments are welcome. I’ll try to be consistent using the format below.

    I'm off the movies.




    Theater Name: Name and location of theater attended

    Movie: Name of movie seen

    Ticket Price: Cost of admission to this showing—other prices noted

    Advertised Start: Time listed in newspaper, WEB site or lobby entrance

    Actual Start: Time when lights are dimmed and the first promo, ad or trailer begins

    Feature Start: Time when the feature begins

    Number of non-feature items: Promotionals (internal ads for the theater and theater-related items such as food, sound system and ticket purchasing), commercials (advertisements for things that do not tie into the theater), trailers and shorts

    Non-feature time: Length of non-feature items

    Theater Condition: General impression

    Sound and Picture: The quality of both

    Seating: Comfort and location

    In-theater food and drink: Items other than standard popcorn, candy and cokes

    Other Local Dinning Options: Restaurants and bars in vicinity

    Drive Time: Time from front door to ticket line—exceptional circumstances noted
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    [rant]Saturday Night Movie:[/rant]


    Theater Name: Angelika Dallas located in Mockingbird Station, a nice shopping, restaurant and apartment complex. It has eight screens and screens foreign and independent films. They screen films by Texas filmmakers twice a month and are frequently used by local film festivals.

    Movie: The Sea Inside

    Ticket Price: $8.00—admission at matinees, for students, children and seniors is $5.50. There is a once a week deal for students $5.50 and free popcorn. Crybaby matinees three times a week allows parents to bring babies.

    Advertised Start: 1800

    Actual Start: 1759

    Feature Start: 1806

    Number of non-feature items: 3 trailers and one promotional

    Non-feature time: 7 minutes

    Theater Condition: Fairly new and modern with a lobby downstairs with comfortable, stuffed leather chairs and couches. Concessions and screens are upstairs

    Sound and Picture: Very good—I have been to this theater many times and have not been disappointed. However those who want really loud sound may wish for more volume.

    Seating: Very comfortable seating, with plenty of leg and hip room. The arms may be placed in an upright position and have cup holders. I sat in the center about a quarter of the way back. There was appreciative audience noise, such as chuckles at appropriate times and one cell phone went off (the women was very embarrassed and obviously just forgot). I rarely have problems with audience noise at this theatre.

    In-theater food and drink: There is a café downstairs with pretty good sandwiches and such—also beer, wine and espresso all of which you can take inside.

    Other Local Dinning Options: There are a good number of good (and average) restaurants in the complex.

    Drive Time: 7 minutes—I often walk to this theater.
     
  3. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2000
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    0
    Is this affiliated with the one in NYC? This major arthouse venue (NYC) happens to be one of the worse theaters I have ever been to.

    BTW Lew, what happened to Mexico?

    --
    H
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 1998
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    2
    There are three Angelika (with a "k" not a "c") complexes in Texas (Dallas, Houston, Plano), and one in New York. I'd comment on the current quality of the New York locale, but I don't want to hijack Lew's thread. [​IMG]

    M.
     
  5. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0

    We closed on our new home last November and are due to close on the sale of our Dallas home in late March (it will be nice to not be owning two houses at the same time [​IMG]). We hired an architect in Ajijic and met with him in January to discuss renovations on our new home. Work has begun and is progressing.

    My wife retires at the end of March. So we should be able to manage getting out of our current home and moving to Mexico without impacting our friends too much.

    We expect to either rent for a few months in Mexico while renovations continue or perhaps live in our casita. My wife and I are negotiating (with each other [​IMG]) this right now.
     
  6. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    [rant]Sunday Matinee[/rant]


    Theater Name: AMC Stonebriar, located in a new, very large mall in Frisco, Texas, a far north Dallas suburb.. It has 24 screens and is a typical mainstream, multiplex. I have only been here twice, as it is not particularly convenient to my home, I’m not a fan of megamalls and the prices are not particularly competitive.

    Movie: The Incredibles

    Ticket Price: $6.50—regular admission is $8.50, matinees, students and seniors $6.50 and children $5.50.

    Advertised Start: 1210

    Actual Start: 1210

    Feature Start: 1225

    Number of non-feature items: 3 trailers, 2 promos (total of 7 minutes) and one short.

    Non-feature time: 15 minutes

    Theater Condition: New and nice enough, if standard multiplex design.

    Sound and Picture: Good sound and picture

    Seating: comfortable, stadium style seating. I sat center, one-third of the way back. There were a few whispered explanations from parents to children, but that should be expected attending this kind of film.

    In-theater food and drink: standard concessions only

    Other Local Dinning Options: Standard mall food court and a few chain restaurants.

    Drive Time: 35 minutes—could be at least twice that much during rush hour (late afternoon from my home).
     
  7. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    [Rant]Monday Afternoon[/Rant]


    Theater Name: Inwood located in Inwood Village as older shopping complex at the corner of Lover’s Lane and Inwood in Dallas. It screens foreign, classic and independent films. This theater was purchased by Landmark, subsequently bought by Dallas local Mark Cuban.

    Movie: Vera Drake—brought back for another engagement after the Oscar nominations.

    Ticket Price: $5.50—regular admission $8.00, student, matinee and children $5.50. They are reasonable liberal in matinee definitions—usual at least two showings. This theater in regularly involved with local film festivals.

    Advertised Start: 1615

    Actual Start: 1618

    Feature Start: 1625

    Number of non-feature items: Two trailers, one ad and one promo

    Non-feature time: 7 minutes

    Theater Condition: A classic, older theater that has kept the main floor and remodeled the balcony for two more screens. It has just undergone extensive renovation—fortunately the murals and etched glass have been retained, so the art deco look has not been compromised.

    Sound and Picture: Good—but during quiet passages some bass could be heard from one of the upstairs movies during its very loud sections.

    Seating: Comfortable—seat backs recline slightly. The upstairs theaters are small and intimate. Some might not like them. However since the rennovations, the seats are wide, comfortable leather--many homes would improved with these seats as chairs.

    In-theater food and drink: There is an attached bar that opens at 5—otherwise standard concessions only.

    Other Local Dinning Options: Several restaurants in Inwood Village and plenty of choice on both Lover’s and Inwood—including one of Dallas’ better restaurants.

    Drive Time: 9 minutes—I go to this theater quite often, including this chance to see Vera Drake again.
     
  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    [rant]Tuesday Evening[/rant]


    Theater Name: Cinemark at Legacy, located in Plano, a north Dallas suburb. It is fairly new and is a standalone theater complex, separate from other shopping and entertainment. It has 24 screens and is a typical multiplex.

    Movie: Phantom of the Opera

    Ticket Price: $7.75—regular admission $7.75 but Fri & Sat evenings are $8.25, students $6.50, seniors and children $5.25, matinees $6.25 and the best deal in Dallas their first matinees are only $4.25

    Advertised Start: 1900

    Actual Start: 1900

    Feature Start: 1907

    Number of non-feature items: four trailers and one promo

    Non-feature time: 7 minutes

    Theater Condition: Very good—typical reasonably new multiplex.

    Sound and Picture: Good, but the feature began with an incorrect aspect ratio. This was corrected during credits. The sound here is normally better (louder) than most area theaters and is my choice for going to large-scale, mainstream movies. However I once saw a horribly scratched print during the first week of The Return of the King. I commented after it was over to the theater management and they gave me a free pass.

    Seating: Comfortable seats that recline slightly. Other than reaction to the film, the audience was reasonably quiet, which is normal for this theater.

    In-theater food and drink: A small café sells sandwiches and espresso.

    Other Local Dinning Options: None—this is a stand-alone complex.

    Drive Time: 40 minutes (but this was during heavy traffic). Attending the first matinee I would plan for 30 minutes and usually have five extra.
     
  9. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 1998
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    2
    The New York Angelika gets a bad rap. I suspect that one's reaction to it depends a lot on age. If one has only known modern multiplexes with stadium seating and big screens, the Angelika's narrow auditoriums and screens no bigger than a good home theater front projection system will seem pretty dismal. But if you remember a time when New York theaters were divided between giant auditoriums (most of them in Times Square, most of them gone now) and tiny neighborhood theaters, the Angelika is almost like a piece of history. And if, like me, you spent a lot of time in a college town seeing foreign films in hole-in-the-wall arthouse theaters, the Angelika can be positively nostalgic.

    About two years ago, there was a major refurbishment, and the seats are much more comfortable, even if the arrangement isn't stadium. The screens may be small, but the quality of projection is consistently good -- probably because the place is run by people who actually care about film, as opposed to the teenagers recruited (and poorly trained) by the likes of Regal, AMC and Loews to run their McTheaters.

    Sound quality is still the biggest weakness. I don't believe any of the six auditoriums have digital sound (or, if they do, the configuration of the auditorium is such that 5.1 sound is a waste). OTOH, the films shown at the Angelika are generally not notable for their subtle use of surrounds. They tend to be dialogue-driven, and as with the projection systems, the Angelika's audio equipment is well-maintained and always audible. I can't say the same for the big chains. (There's one Loews theater I won't attend anymore, because they routinely have problems with their front center channels; you get all the surround action but can't hear what the characters are saying.)

    I've found it interesting that people who complain about the Angelika in New York never seem to have the same complaints about the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas on the Upper West Side. LPC has similarly small auditoriums and screens and also lacks digital sound. I've often wondered whether the difference is simply architectural. The Angelika has the rough-hewn, cement-wall style of downtown's industrial past, whereas the Lincoln Plaza is in a more contemporary structure that has the familiarity of an office building. To me, that's mostly surface, but I think it makes a difference to a lot of people. (I'm reminded of this whenever people complain about Film Forum, another downtown locale with similar ambiance.)

    The only thing I haven't mentioned is the subway. For a lot of people, the fact that the Angelika is located over a major subway line, which periodically generates vibration from passing trains, is a deal breaker. I'll admit that I found this unnerving when I first went there. But if you're going to live in a major city, I think you have to develop the ability to tune out ambient noise. The sounds of city life (sirens, construction, etc.) accompany even the most solemn of occasions, up to and including funeral services. If you can't tune it out, city life probably isn't for you.

    Bottom line: The Angelika gets some of the most interesting films that pass through New York, and often they're exclusives. Is it my first choice among arthouses? No, that would be the Landmark Sunshine, which opened in 2001 and is the only arthouse complex in New York built with the amenities of a modern multiplex. (There may be another this spring when the IFC complex opens in the Village.) But I never mind going to the Angelika, and it's been the site of some of my best filmgoing experiences of recent years.

    M.
     
  10. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 1998
    Messages:
    7,585
    Likes Received:
    0
    Angelika NY sounds a lot like many other arthouses around the US. Nostalgia-filled but every-so-slightly irritating in that they aren't the very best presentations or environments.

    The Houston theater (Gray 3 or whatever it is now) or the place in Seattle not far from UofW whose name I forget now (saw Princess and the Warrior there) are like this. In Indy both arthouse are like this except that Indy is such a suberb/mall city that you don't have as much of that neighorhood nostalgia for either Castleton (classic 80's era mall multiplex tunnel style - ugh) or Keystone (mom and pop strip mall 2 screen theater that doesn't have the money for decent seats or anything).

    Indy finally is getting a proper theater for art flicks this fall. I'm torn between feeling sorry for the other 2 theaters and feeling happy that these art flicks will be getting a better home for viewing.


    But back to the Seattle and Houston versions I mentioned - those did have charm and were great viewing experiences, again probably like the Angelika NY. But they still weren't the Arclight LA. [​IMG]
     
  11. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the description Michael.

    The two Angelica theaters in the Dallas area are quite new—the one in Dallas being only a few years old (I’m not quite sure how old, as I was in Asia/Pacific when it opened and the one in Plano less than a year old. Both have five channel digital sound—and the screens are much, much larger than any home theater setup. Not so big perhaps as the older movie theaters, but much larger than the shoebox ones—pretty much on a par with the smaller and mid-size screens of the multiplexes. The are all the correct size for the seating.

    They are not necessarily perfect however--see my next post.
     
  12. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    Theater Name: Angelica Plano, located in a moderately upscale restaurant, shopping and apartment complex. It has eight screens and shows almost exclusively foreign and independent films. Plano is a mostly middle to upper-middle class, north Dallas suburb. This is the area’s newest theater and I have only attended this theater twice, as it is not very close to my home.

    Movie: Born into Brothels

    Ticket Price: $6.00—regular admission is $8.50, students, children and seniors $5.50. There is also a once a week deal for students that combine a $5.00 ticket and free popcorn. The Angelica also has “Crybaby” matinees twice a week, allowing parents to bring infants.

    Advertised Start: 1141

    Actual Start: 1141

    Feature Start: 1155

    Number of non-feature items: 1 promo, 1 ad, 5 trailers and 2 promos.

    Non-feature time: 14 minutes (the other time I went the feature began 11 minutes after the advertised start)

    Theater Condition: New, with a flashy lobby downstairs, concessions and screens upstairs.

    Sound and Picture: Good sound and picture, although this feature is not a very good movie to judge either. A previous movie seen here, Callas Forever had very good sound and a fine picture. However it was marred during the last 15 minutes of the movie due to the picture skipping and the sound going out of sync.

    Seating: Very comfortable seating, with plenty of leg and hip room. The arms may be placed in an upright position and have cup holders. I sat in the center about a quarter of the way back. No audience noise. My limited experience in this theater would not lead me to believe that there would ever be much of a problem.

    In-theater food and drink: The Angelica has a modest café (decent sandwiches espresso and such) with a bar. Drinks may be taken into the theater.

    Other Local Dinning Options: There is a wide variety of restaurants in the shopping complex.

    Drive Time: 26 minutes. This was under ideal conditions. Rush hour (late afternoon from my home) would double this.
     
  13. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    [rant]Thursday Matinee[/rant]


    Theater Name: Lowes Cityplace is a standalone multiplex just north of downtown Dallas. It is probably one of the older, newer multiplexs and has 14 screens.

    Movie: Are We There Yet?

    Ticket Price: $5.75—regular admission $8.00, matinees and seniors, $5.75, children, $5.00, students $6.50

    Advertised Start: 1215

    Actual Start: 1215

    Feature Start: 1229

    Number of non-feature items: 1 commericial, two promos and five trailers

    Non-feature time: 14 minutes

    Theater Condition: Good and clean—functional—no flash.

    Sound and Picture: Good picture, but the screens are a bit small for the size of the theaters—at least compared to others in this section. This specific screen had an occasional crakle in the right, front channel. I have noticed this on other occasions.

    Seating: Comfortable and clean. I sat center, one-third of the way back.

    In-theater food and drink: Standard concessions only.

    Other Local Dinning Options: None as the theater is stand-alone.

    Drive Time: 11 minutes—I go to this theater for mainstream movies when I don’t feel like driving to Plano.
     
  14. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2001
    Messages:
    13,063
    Likes Received:
    2
    As opposed to one of the newer, older ones? [​IMG]
     
  15. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    [rant]Friday Matinee[/rant]


    Theater Name: The Magnolia located in a nice shopping, restaurant and apartment complex just north of downtown Dallas. It has five screens and shows foreign, independent and classic films. This theater is often used by local film festivals. They also have regular screenings with a guest critic or filmmaker discussing the film with the audience. The Magnolia used to be a part of a small chain, but was purchased by Mark Cuban at about the same time he bought the Landmark theaters. It is now a part of that chain.

    Movie: Bride and Prejudice

    Ticket Price: $5.50—regular admission is $8.00, seniors, students and children are $5.50.

    Advertised Start: 1145

    Actual Start: 1145

    Feature Start: 1155

    Number of non-feature items: four trailers and one promo.

    Non-feature time: 10 minutes

    Theater Condition: Very good—this is a reasonably new theater Concessions and screens are upstairs, as is the main lobby. There is limited comfortable seating in the lobby.

    Sound and Picture: Very good

    Seating: Very comfortable—I sat one-third of the way back, center. Other than several women laughing at the jokes, it was quiet. Audiences at this theater are always well-behaved.

    In-theater food and drink: There is a full service bar on the second floor. I had discussions about Japanese films with the bartender and other patrons during the Kurosawa/Mifune retrospective. The theater manager is an Aussie and he has added Tim-Tams to the standard concession fare.

    Other Local Dinning Options: West Village (the complex) has a wide choice of restaurants, wine bars and such.

    Drive Time: 10 minutes—I attend this theater quite a bit.
     
  16. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    My week is finished. Seven different movies in seven different theaters in varying locales, at different times and different types of movies, supposedly with different audiences.

    I had to look hard for things to criticize negatively. By this I don’t mean that everything was perfect, but the experience (except for a couple of the films) was very positive.

    Prices were fair (indeed cheap is possible), access easy, sound and picture quality good (with minor exceptions) to outstanding, theaters clean and attractive, seats comfortable and there are plenty of dinning options other than high priced popcorn and coke—not to mention that those options taste a great deal better. The maximum wait time for a feature to start (from the advertised time) was 15 minutes.

    To be honest, I mostly attend the Magnolia, Inwood and Angelika and they mostly screen foreign, independent and classic movies. I have narrowed my mainstream movie going to a couple of theaters (though I will occasionally hit a different one), so I thought that my normal experiences might not be typical.

    Those of you with very bad experiences need to move to Dallas, where it appears that people are more civilized and theatre owners more concerned about providing a good return for your money.

    I did not mention in my individual reviews, but in each case cleaners entered the theater at the back during the credits and waited for them to end before beginning cleaning. This may account for why I found the theaters to all be clean.

    Perhaps good experiences are not so interesting as bad ones. [​IMG]

    After a week at the movies, I’m off with my wife and one of our friends for dinner in Oak Cliff and then Willie Nelson.

    Time to polish my boots and put on my hat!

    Does this replicate anyone else’s experience?
     

Share This Page