Saw Spider-Man on the big screen tonight… in pan-and-scan!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by cafink, Sep 6, 2002.

  1. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    Tulane University New Orleans, just a short drive from my home, frequently shows movies, both new and old, in an auditorium on campus for just $3. For several years I've attended them constantly.

    This year, they got a new digital projector, and started showing movies from DVDs. The result has been less than stellar. After a particularly disastrous show of SPIDER-MAN tonight, I was inclined to send an e-mail. Here it is, it describes the situation pretty thouroughly. I've never considered myself much of a writer but I hope it gets the point across.

     
  2. Brian Ford

    Brian Ford Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow, I have not heard of any venue actually playing movies from a Commercial DVD. If you don't mind me asking (try and stop me!), how large is this screen and do they get a large attendance, or is this more of a lower circuit presentation?
     
  3. John Torrez

    John Torrez Second Unit

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    Isn't it illegal to show dvd's like that and charge for it?
     
  4. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

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    Universities can actually enter agreements to do exactly that through their student councils/student unions. They pay a very small fee back, and keep the majority as long as it goes for the student fund.
     
  5. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    Where did they get a copy of Spiderman on DVD? Bootleg?
     
  6. Cameron Seaman

    Cameron Seaman Supporting Actor

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  7. Chris Dugger

    Chris Dugger Supporting Actor

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    This certainly must have been an illegal showing.

    Studios handle all booking for theaters and colleges through the same procedure. Even though the rules are a little different in the rights they are given during booking, studios do not have the rights to lease out other forms of media for public performances.

    As a booker for several film festivals, I have run into this. Perfect example was the I wished to present Aleksandr Nevsky (1938). I had access only to a 16mm print with the old soundtrack. The studio had just released a restored version with new soundtrack on VHS only. I had researched everything I would need to present this VHS version on a large screen but was told I would not have the rights to show it publicly. The studio would ONLY allow the screening of the 16mm print.

    Because Home Video and theatrical departments are totally different divisions, they are VERY clear about who is allowed to present publicly and for a fee. On top of that, the Home Video divisions do NOT lease out dvd's to schools for presentation purposes... Exspecially big titles that have yet to be released to the public.

    Certainly, I would not wish to be the one holding the bag at that school once the proper studios find out what is going on.

    Dugger
     
  8. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    Without getting into the issue of the legality (or lack thereof) of the situation, it sounds as though they're using a 4x3 projector to display their DVDs. They either need to add an anamorphic lens to the projector, or get a 16x9 model. I can't believe they went ahead and showed Fight Club with bars on all FOUR sides!

    A couple technical questions, if I may:

    1. How big is that screen?

    2. How did the Spidey DVD compare to film, when blown up to that size?
     
  9. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    I recieved a reply today. It basically said "we just got the projector and the school year has only just started, so we're still trying to figure things out."

    As for the legality question, I'm certainly not the one to ask. They've been showing movies for years, I imagine they've always had everything worked out. I would have assumed that once you have the right to show a movie, the source of that movie doesn't matter. Judging by Chris Dugger's post, it looks like I was wrong. Thanks for the info, Chris!

    As I mentioned, I was surprised to see them using DVDs. When I approached the young lady behind the counter for a refund last night and asked about it, she said that she knew there were some problems but that it was "better than a projector that broke all the time."

    I understand that they are just college kids and are not getting paid for this, but that doesn't do a lick of good for the folks who paid $3 to see the movie.

    As for where the "Spider-Man" DVD came from, I have no idea. I thought that perhaps they'd gotten one from the studio for the screening, but Chris' post makes that seem unlikely. I had of course entertained the possibility that the pan-and-scan version was the only one available to them, but that doesn't make the situation any better for me, the customer.

    For those who were wondering, the screen is quite big. I am not good at estimating measurements, but if I had to guess, I'd put the screen at about 40 to 50 feet tall and about twice that wide.

    McAlister Auditorium was not designed as a movie theater. It's used mainly for other functions — for example, it's where my high school graduation took place! The biggest problem is with the acoustics. The sound echoes quite a bit. One tends to get used to it, especially with movies he's familiar with, but it can be distracting at first. (My worst experience in this regard is when I saw "Trainspotting" for the first time. The thick accents made most of the dialogue hard enough to discern in the first place.)

    The movies they show are actually a pretty small affair. Attendance is usually limited to about 3 to 4 dozen, I'd guess. Last Night's "Spider-Man" drew the largest crowd I'd ever seen, probably about 200 or so.

    Finally, let me say that in spite of all the problems, the one thing that impresses me is how good a DVD looks when blown up to that size. It is not indistinguishable from film, but if they can work all of the kinks out of the process, I find it a perfectly acceptable way to watch a movie.
     
  10. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Look, if you can see a projected 16x9 background behind the 4x3 picture then they have things set-up wrong, simple as that. And it's not that hard to do right. Cripes, I'd say you with the remote could have it fixed in 1 minute, literally. Set the DVD player in 16x9 and that's it, along with putting in the 16x9 version of the DVD (if they have it).

    It's not rocket science, even if the projector is new. Sheesh, I had my Sony W400 running correctly in all of 5 minutes at the most, and it was the first 16x9 projector/TV I ever owned.

    Ignoring legalities, go back and help them set it up correctly for one free showing or something (at least it sounds like what you should do to me).
     
  11. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    I'd have offered to do just that Seth, except my student-level budget has limited my experience with projectors, and I'm afraid I really don't know a thing about them!

    When I asked the young lady about it last night, she said something along the lines of "The thing is, our projector doesn't go any wider than that…" Again, I don't know much about projectors. Is it possible that their projector just doesn't have any settings to display an image wider than 4:3?
     
  12. cafink

    cafink Producer

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  13. Benson R

    Benson R Supporting Actor

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    There is nothing illegal about these showings. All university's do this. As far as already having Spiderman my school had it this weekend too. I didn't go but I am sure it is a public exhibition copy. These are quite common. A friend of mine is a computer programmer at a small DVD authoring house and they work on the public exhibition release of movies all the time. And the studios aren't doing charity, the licences for these are more expensive then renting it at blockbuster though school's I'm sure get a discount.
     
  14. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    40 to 50 feet!? [​IMG] DVD must really look like crap blown up that big! The resolution just can't hold up to such scrutiny.
    My freind and I have often sat in the theater waiting for the film to start, and wondered what a dvd would look like on a screen so large, we determined that it would look as if we were watching it through a venetian(sp) blind.
    I would love to see first hand what one looked like so big.
     
  15. Brett_B

    Brett_B Supporting Actor

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  16. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Swank Motion Pictures (the largest non-theatrical distributor) shows that Spider-Man was made available for college campus showings on August 16, 2002. So this was probably not an illegal showing, but just a poorly presented one.
     
  17. Nate Anderson

    Nate Anderson Screenwriter

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    Spiderman showed at my campus too this weekend, and it was also Pan and Scan, but at least the presentation was better than Panic Room was, (still pan and scan, but it also had this big grey box showing up in the middle of the picture off and on. VERY annoying.) which they were also showing this weekend.
     
  18. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    My university recently swithched to DVD too. They used to have a real projector that used actual film. They were always in widescreen too. The two most recent films they showed were Spiderman, and The Rookie, which played the friday before last, and I think that was 3 days before the DVD came out. Both were presented in Pan & Scan. I was going to write a letter to the school newspaper, but maybe the best thing to do would be to talk to the people involved at C.A.T. (Campus Activities Team.)
     
  19. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    Update: Tonight they were showing Signs. I wanted to see it, but I knew it wasn't anywhere close to being released on DVD, so I was curious as to how they were going to show it, since they got rid of the projector. I asked the guy setting it up, and he said that they had switched to VHS! When he told me it was a VHS I suspected it was a bootleg, until he told me they get it from the studio. He also said that they will most likely always be Pan & Scan. I told him that was horrible, and he agreed with me. So maybe the Studio's are only allowing Uninversities to have Pan & Scan movies on VHS tape now. I would check, those of you who think they are seeing DVD's. Because I am sure if the studio's would let school's have DVD's, then ACU would get DVD's instead because they are better quality.
     
  20. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    spider-man was shown at my campus outside in a big field in late august/early september, but i wasn't able to catch it...damn homework. [​IMG] they had pearl harbor last year, but they moved it from outside to inside (just rained), and once again, i didn't catch it. they didn't inform most people know about the backup location...hopefully i'll be able to see next year's presentation.
     

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