Comments from John Fink

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John Fink
John Fink commented about IMAX Theatre at Palisades Center on May 24, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Was at the mall yesterday, the standalone IMAX theater is officially closed. AMC is converting theater #10 into an IMAX at their Loews Theater next door which is undergoing a recliner-update. Frankly this sucks – this was a true IMAX theater with a giant 6-story screen, they even brought back 15/70MM for Interstellar (I had been out of town when it opened and waited to see it here). Not sure what uses the mall will put it to, but I imagine you can covert the theater into a decent sized multi-floor retailer, which sucks. The native IMAX was certainly a draw for me when the experience warranted it (for the nature docs as well the Batman pictures, MI: Ghost Protocol and Interstellar) – Theatre #10 at least will be bigger than the pathetic scam of an IMAX at Clifton Commons.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Loews Palisades Center 21 on May 14, 2015 at 8:08 am

AMC is installing its second generation recliners (reducing capacity by about half verses 2/3rds) – not sure if they’ll outright close theater #7 (which seats 50) – I can’t imagine they can do much with that auditorium with a reduced seating capacity. The big house, theater #10, is closed and the mall has stated it’ll be converted into an IMAX auditirum – and I’m willing to guess this means the legacy IMAX will be converted into other uses. If its true, this sucks.

One of the advantages of Palisades Center was having a legacy IMAX close by, while theater #10 has a big screen and big seating capacity (I think seating for somewhere around 400) the height is about half the size of the legacy IMAX. Loosing half the screen height and the native IMAX sight-lines is terrible, while the auditorium in question is pretty large some of the IMAX conversions I’ve seen are downright terrible (Clifton Commons is underwhelming and barely larger than the other five big traditional auditoriums on sight). Another advantage of the legacy Palisades Center location was they occasionally showed 15/70MM prints, it was a treat to see Interstellar here.

HOPEFULLY the information the mall has issued on the AMC remodel isn’t quite correct – perhaps (but not likely) AMC is modifying theater #10 to connect it to the main theater lobby and box office area. I hope they’re not going to pull a bait-and-switch and sell customers on the “IMAX experience” – “now half its original size and just as expensive”.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Movieland 8 Theatres on May 11, 2015 at 8:20 pm

Officially the end of 35MM projection in WNY – I don’t think anyone kept their 35MM gear (judging by Interstellar). It’s a shame the theater is in as rough a shape as it is otherwise another operator might be compelled to give it another go (although the plaza may or may not be helped by the departure of Wal Mart) – the model Movieland had didn’t seem all that sustainable when they had to ask for contributions on IndieGoGo to upgrade to digital (Dipson upgraded their whole circuit including McKinley Mall – now the only discount house in the region, while shedding a few of the under performing locations). AMC has been taking over smaller theaters to recliner-plex – – they’ve been taking over some strange location lately (like Market Arcade) – so depending on the future of shopping center who knows….

Last titles to screen: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, American Sniper, While We’re Young, Danny Collins, Fifty Shades of Grey, Run All Night, Big Hero 6, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas on May 6, 2015 at 9:17 pm

The former box-office on the ground floor now houses two Cineplex food concepts – Poptopia and a Frozen Yogurt bar. I visited the VIP section last September (I took a few hours away from TIFF to see “Captive”, the new Atom Egoyan movie that wasn’t playing at the festival…draw your own conclusions on that one) and it was a pretty nice experience – the food and beverages we had were fine, as was the service (although only available during the pre-show, a server took our order and settled our bill via an iPad). As for the dine-in aspect, the selection was not nearly as expansive a selection as the Alamo Drafthouse although the quality and experience surpassed AMC’s Dine-In Theaters. My only complaint would have been the price of tickets had we not gone on half-price Tuesdays.

On a side note: I feel as if the VIP market could be an area of entry for another exhibitor if one were to want to try to enter the GTA in those few market areas were Cineplex has some weakness (or if Landmark were to start investing in recliner seats like US exhibitors have been doing).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Chelsea Cinemas on Apr 19, 2015 at 8:58 pm

I’ve caught a few shows during Tribeca and I’m a fan of the new seats – wide leather rockers with large arm rests. A few major changes have been made: the box office was moved inside (where Clearview Cafe area had previously lived, to the right of the concessions). Cafe seating is now available on the first floor where the guest services counter had stood (guest services is now to the left of the concession stand). The outdoor ticket windows have been completely removed. The concessions stand was upgraded with new fixtures and now serves six varieties of flavored popcorn made on site.

Apart from the first floor lobby renovations the most notable changes are the auditoriums entrances have been reconfigured – perhaps to add some capacity back that had been lost with the addition of wider seats and generous leg room. The exterior renovations also are now complete and the signs officially read Bow Tie Cinemas. I prefer this venue for Tribeca, it has the sidewalk and lobby space to make all the queues work well without the maze of escalators and narrow hallways that Regal Battery Park has.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Edgewater Multiplex Cinemas on Apr 3, 2015 at 8:08 pm

I noticed tonight Theater #8 has a 35MM projector installed along side a Sony 4K projector (platter, not reel to reel which essentially means archival prints will will not screen here). Theater #8 was one of the first in the state to feature digital projection, a few years before 3D became the driver that it was in the conversion of analog screens. (I don’t recall what system they had but National Amusements mostly standardized on Sony 4K when the circuit converted – I believe Barco supplies the tech for XPlus).

The presentation is still excellent across the board and Edgewater’s flagship XPlus auditorium has been reseated with recliners.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cineplaza 13 on Mar 20, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Should be marked as closed – both the Pathmark and Forman Mills (which replaced the theatre) on site are now sitting empty. The big box shops only a few blocks away seem to be thriving, not sure why exactly this location failed so horribly.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Empire Cinemas Columbia Park 12 on Mar 20, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Still one the strangest theaters I’ve ever been to – went yesterday to see a film, as is the policy of Empire Cinemas they leave their theaters pitch black (I suppose they’re too cheap to install automatic lighting cues). The hallways are getting painted white and yellow. The seating is now a mix of second-hand seats from Kerasotes down the street (which recently installed luxury recliners) and rocker seating from somewhere else. The theater I was in had the later installed and they were quite comfortable. It appears despite the promise of luxury recliners that Empire Cinemas has abandoned the plan, Allwood has them in certain auditoriums (others I think got the second hand Regal seats from this theatre). Very odd operation these folks run.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Union Theaters on Mar 20, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Looks like Empire Cinemas is taking it over: http://union.empirecineplex.com

John Fink
John Fink commented about Big Cinemas Fremont 7 on Jan 6, 2015 at 9:11 pm

I believe this location is due to be taken over by global exhibitor CineGrand.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Kerasotes Showplace 14 on Dec 11, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Recliner update is complete – I attended a show tonight – – very comfortable, although seat back doesn’t recline as far as Starplex but that might actually be a good thing – the foot rests do extend nearly flat. I suspect going this route they lost less seats in the conversion process and the theatre we were in (a medium-sized one) still boasted a decent seat-count. An usher enforced the new reserved seating policy and checked tickets upon entry to the auditorium.

The sight-lines in the upper stadium portion have changed (the first row is a good 6ft above the handicap rows, almost like a balcony) and made for a very good viewing experience. In essence, a nice, comfortable multiplex just got more comfortable – – I suspect this recliner-plexing with reserved seating may be kind of a test for Kerastoes who has plans to expand their Showplace Icon brand with new complexes in DC and Boston. The screens (proper masking here!), lobby, box-office, concession and rest-rooms haven’t changed.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Middlebrook Galleria Cinemas on Nov 8, 2014 at 6:23 am

They’re an exhibitor from the Netherlands – from the looks of their website they have four theaters – one each in India, Bulgaria, Romania and Ocean, New Jersey………

http://www.app.com/story/money/business/2014/11/07/cinegrand-ocean-theater/18672757/

John Fink
John Fink commented about Middlebrook Galleria Cinemas on Nov 3, 2014 at 7:42 am

I had visited this theater last summer – this was my last first run 35MM experience! The theatre was in pretty good shape – certainly not dirty or in disrepair as far as I can tell, but between the 35MM (they had at least one digital 3D set up) and the Clearview sign in the parking lot the writing was on the wall that it might not stick around for a while. (Hopefully for the new operators it doesn’t stay closed for too long, otherwise AMC might demand clearance).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Eastern Hills Cinema on Oct 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Recently installed very comfortable new leather rocker seating.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Kerasotes Showplace 14 on Sep 21, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Currently Kerasotes is renovating the theater into a recliner-plex – – the five-year old seats it currently has (which are still in fine shape) were sold to Empire Columbia Park 12, a mile up the road.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Movieland 8 Theatres on Sep 15, 2014 at 7:35 am

They’re 3/8th digital – with 5 35MM screens. I saw a digital presentation here last year and it wasn’t the greatest – pillar boxed on a small scope screen in one of those long bowling alley-like cinemas on the left side of the complex. This was a compromise for a foreign language film, originally they had showed it in scope until the audience complained (the subtitles were chopped off), had it not been subtitled we might have seen it in the wrong aspect ratio without catching it.

Not sure what its future will be – they launched an IndieGoGo campaign that wasn’t successful and even first run theaters are finding themselves limited (I occasionally look and see what’s playing at a few theaters I know of that haven’t gone digital yet). Here they’re getting newer, more indie films on digital (I’m glad they’re showing these films – they actually do pretty well here!) and commercial hits on 35MM. An ideal outcome would be Movieland gets the financing or another operator steps in and makes a few improvement to the place while taking it digital. It sure is popular (even charging double what Dipson does at McKinely – which is in better shape) – and could be even more successful with some improvements.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Scotiabank Theatre Toronto on Sep 12, 2014 at 7:46 pm

New leather/vinyl rocker seating in all auditoriums, similar to the Ultra AVX seats! (Not sure when they installed them – new since last TIFF at least)

John Fink
John Fink commented about Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre on Sep 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Slated to become an AMC recliner-plex due open by the Summer of 2016 (not sure what the hold-up is but Roads Less Traveled will return for another season in the building). I have mixed feelings on this one – on one hand its great it’ll remain a cinema, but it also may shut out the local film community as this venue held screenings for Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, UB’s Buffalo Film Seminars and other local screenings and premiers. On the other hand, it’s good news and I think the refurbished theater (Dipson’s hands were tied here) will be a success.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Allwood Cinemas 6 on Aug 6, 2014 at 8:20 am

Visited yesterday for Hercules – the good: it was clean and leather recliners. The Bad: yes, they’ve gone digital (no 3D but thats no deal breaker for me) but they never bothered to replace the glass in the projection booth – so in at least two auditoriums you’ll see a dark line running down the frame at some point. The picture was ¼th dark and out of focus – not acceptable (at least two others walked out along with me). The reason the management gave “the owners are working on it”.

Otherwise with a little more fixing up it could be great – they need new wall treatments (the one in the theater I was in had water damage), new glass in the booths and an automated lighting system that doesn’t leave the theaters dangerously pitch black between screenings – – and then the place would be fine.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Bay Plaza 13 on Jul 29, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Due for the AMC recliner-plex treatment per their website (no doubt the second generation that don’t recline as far and only allow for half the theatre capacity to be cut). AMC has been (after a year) charging a premium on the recliner-plexes – $16.50 at 84th Street is NYC’s highest 2D adult ticket price for a non-IMAX show.

The other Bronx theater in operation, Concourse Plaza recently installed comfortable rocker seats. Bay Plaza certainly needs an upgrade – while Concourse Plaza simply needs to be more welcoming – – it’s seriously like National Amusements built a movie theater in what looks like the middle of a maximum security prison. The least inviting theater I’ve ever been to.

The Bronx overall needs more movie screens, for a city that large to only have 24 screens at two complexes to choose from (AMC will likely in a year raise prices here quite dramatically) its time for another operator to enter. The only question is where?

(Yonkers by comparison has three excellent theaters in operations with a total of first run 27 screens)

John Fink
John Fink commented about IMAX Theatre at Palisades Center on May 11, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Operated (with a separate box office and concessions from the 21-screen Lowes) by AMC since RoboCop (February 12, 2014). Not sure if they still have 15/70MM in operation.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Loews Palisades Center 21 on May 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm

AMC assumed operations of the IMAX Theater in the complex in February.

On a side note Re: Regal – not sure what their plans are but they also announced they’ll be operating a luxury theater at Paramus Park. This theater seems a little less crowed but not hurting for business – I think both mall serve slightly different audiences with Nanuet ultimately a quicker, less stressful experience (at least parking). Bow Tie changed the focus on New City on art/indie films, although unfortunately a lot of the bigger titles from Fox Searchlight and Sony Classics play both at Bow Tie and Loews – occasionally a film will play at all 3 Rockland County theaters.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre on May 4, 2014 at 9:09 pm

I visited last week for the BNFF and the theater is still in limbo – it’s in a strange predicament because the building is technically owned by the city, operated by a NFP-board and managed by Dipson. The city, wanting to get out of the exhibition business has requested proposals from interested parties to acquire the building (which includes the cinema and some additional storefronts).

Officially the city hopes it’ll remain a theater (and that could be viable as this block of Main Street is about to reopen to motor traffic), but it certainly requires updates including at the very minimum digital projection to continue to operate. (The lobby with its Angelika fixtures is generally in good shape, while the auditoriums are all original GCC including seats, carpeting and walls treatments – not in poor repair but certainly could use a refresh). I’ve heard some speculation as to the theater’s future, truthfully I’d like to see something innovative happen here (WNY doesn’t have a single luxury cinema and only one microcinema that serves food and alcohol).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Southington 12 on Apr 30, 2014 at 6:47 am

Rumors are Starplex is taking it over

John Fink
John Fink commented about Improvements at the Caldwell on Apr 10, 2014 at 7:49 am

The presentation has greatly improved since Bow Tie’s take over – clear, bright, in focus, and in frame (digital of course allows a certain degree to correct for poorly divided theaters). The once infamously awful KinMall is now a theater I frequent a few times a month because the presentation is now very good (I never thought I’d say that!).