Comments from JodarMovieFan

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JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about Christmas day grand opening ad from 1946 on Jun 21, 2015 at 9:39 pm

Awesome ad post, Rivest. Thanks. Look at the admission prices 35¢ for kids and 50¢ for adults! I’m wondering what they are referring to as ‘free’ parking. Not if you count that lot next door to what was it.. Safeway? Even in those days, can’t imagine that little lot accomodating a 1000+ in single screen venue like this one. I remember having to park either way down or up the street during the big event movies being booked here.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about Cinemark Egyptian 24 and XD on Jun 13, 2015 at 5:21 pm

I caught a matinee of Jurassic World here only because they have recently installed D-Box seating. Being opening day and upon discovering the D-Box install, I thought this would be an interesting experience. I’ve known D-Box was locally installed at a Leesburg mplex, but it is rather far for me to go.

Unfortunately, the website indicates they are in the smaller auditoriums 13 and 18, not the nicer XD one. I guess its okay if the screen was not as immersive but at least its 3D and digital, meaning a clean, slightly darker picture. The website also denotes the fact that the entire auditorium is not D-Box arranged but only 2 rows and 2 seats. When I saw the online schematic for the reserved seating (ugh!) chart, I thought for a second that the theater was just that..a capacity of just 2 rows and 2 seats! Nope.

Due to unexpected traffic delays, I arrived 15 minutes late. Fortunately, I bought my ticket online and skipped the box office line despite the surcharge. I missed all the opening sneak previews and format/sound trailers, so I can’t talk about any of that. I believe this venue never played sound format trailers, just digital. The way the online seating chart looks in relation to the screen, one is MISTAKENLY led to believe the two rows of D-Box seats are the bottom of the stadium seating level and the two other seats are on the auditorium floor and in center. WRONG. The movie had started and the fact there is insufficient lighting, I could not find the J row that I was assigned. I did see the seat number and people to the right of me. I asked the guy next to me if its J Row, the D-Box row and he said yes. No movement in the seats, buzzing or any kind of moment in the beginning. I thought maybe the seat motions only during the action parts. The action parts come and go, no movement. By this time, the movie is already into the half way part. No sense in moving again, missing the flow of the film trying to find the elusive J-row.

The movie was surprisingly good. I had heard some positive reviews on the radio and the online buzz was decent even though, I don’t really pay attention to them to the extent that it influences my movie choices.

Sound wise, there were decent surrounds and particular chatter and sound fx from the top left like 7.1. Not sure if its the auditorium or the soundtrack, itself, but I’m leaning towards the auditorium sound system, the depth of sound wasn’t as rich or deep as seeing the original Jurassic film at Universal Studios in Hollywood way back when DTS debuted. Of particular comparison is the full shot of the T-Rex (rather the new creature’s) onscreen and its roar. At that venue, which I blogged here but was probably deleted, you could get the sensation of breath coming at you and motion from the then THX-cert auditorium.

A few minor annoyances was the series' often repeated opening shot of the dinosaurs trotting onscreen from right to left to the upswell of oooh ahh music. I get the impression they reused the same shot from the original but modified the images to add/take away particular dinosaurs and include the current actors in the scene. Bryce Dallas Howard’s Stepford Wives' style do made me want to grab at the image and turn it something less oppressive. :)

Complaining to Guest services got me an apology and acknowledgement about the bad website seating schematic and vertically cropped film. I’ll go back but avoid #18 for D-Box, if I can.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about Rivertowne 12 on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:27 am

AMC taking the reins again on this mplex is strange. With the Hoffman just over the bridge, it doesn’t make sense. With the new casino and traffic, a close movie theater would be nice but a newly constructed one would be better. You still got the riff raff to deal with in the neighborhood. The buffet place that is next to the theater draws in crowds, so going to see a movie next door after dinner or lunch would make sense.

If memory serves me correctly, there aren’t ‘large’ auditoriums like the old Academy 8 when this place opened back in ‘86 or so. The Academy 8 had 4 larger halls; 2 had 70mm and then 4 tiny auditoriums with steeply raked seating. Not sure what the owners did post-AMC with remodels here.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about Arclight Bethesda on Feb 10, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Giles, I was just teasing you. I thought the membership was supposed to be free for six months, thats what I read on the website when the place opened with ‘Interstellar’ last Nov. I’m just pissed at the awful customer service. I’m mulling writing a letter to corporate. Maybe it was just a bad day. I still want to to check out the other auditoriums and eventually will.

As far as digitizing a classic like 2001, I’m holding out for a HFR digital product along the lines of what FX Master Doug Trumbull is working on. I vividly remember his Showscan effort, HFR 70mm film projection that was ahead of its time and this Showscan Digital, or whatever its called, is supposedly compatible with today’s systems..this could be the generational leap in the motion picture experience that will sustain the business for years to come, imho.

Howard, I hear you, too. I forget the name of the magazine..‘Cinefantastique’ or some other one but there was this article that talked about digitizing the classic films that were 70mm..well, 65mm native. Whether to scan at a higher res rate like ‘Blade Runner’ supposedly did.. 8K. So when its finally rendered..4K, 2K, the final product should look better even if its several generations below the master scan.

Both of you are right in that these studios need better quality control when it comes to these transfers. They should pay extra $ to consult with the original production folks (while they are still living) to ensure these DCPs remain faithful to their film versions.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about AFI Silver Theatre on Feb 7, 2015 at 11:03 pm

Out of first run release boredom, I was perusing the AFI Silver’s film calendar and have discovered they are planning to book not 1, not 2, but 3 different versions of Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner.’ The original ‘82 release, '91 director’s cut (I presume this was just sans the Ford voice over,’ and final (restoration and final Scott) cut and DP release of ‘07. It would be even worth more of a view if either the first two were 70mm. I suspect the '82 one is pinkish by now unless its the underground private copy or studio vault copy. The '91 cut I remember seeing at the Uptown was 35mm. The '07 final cut has Joanna Cassidy filming her character’s Zora’s death scene almost 25 years after original shooting! Even still, the movie has excellent visuals (65mm) that should have won Oscar over E.T., imho.

Unfortunately, hyperlinks are dead. I suppose info and/or final booking is fluid as of this writing.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about Arclight Bethesda on Feb 7, 2015 at 6:46 am

I finally made the trip to visit this grand new plex with much enthusiasm after reading what a great movie exhibition business this was in LA.

Before the movie, I had lunch in the eaterie area and was disappointed over the fact that the big restaurants have yet to be opened. Bobby Flay’s burger joint I’ve had and wasn’t too thrilled with at the Arundel Mills location and Cheesecake Factory is just another pricey chain restaurant. Visually, the place looks better and brighter than the old food court, I have to say that many pieces of the laminate furniture is already peeling apart. Very bad. Plus, a combination of the lack of patron courtesy and attentive cleaning staff made for very dirty tables. I don’t know why it is people don’t clean after themselves and leave their uneaten food, drinks and trash on the table when there are clearly marked trash bins all over the place.

I caught the new Wachowski sibling film ‘Jupiter Ascending’ also with some degree of heightened enthusiasm even after their last two disappointments known as ‘Cloud Atlas’ and ‘Speed Racer.’ The film was in #7 and had the Atmos sound system but was not Wide Screen.

When I went into the lobby area, there are self service tables with movie cards for you to sign up for or so I thought. I thought you could sign up and use the card at the same time to get your points. You can’t. Since I was running late, I paid the $17 (!) for the 3D Atmos presentation. It was only after I saw a guy, who should have greeted me at the station, who stated I could not get credit for my purchase since I didn’t go through him to sign up for the card. The idiot should have greeted me the second I walked through the door not just look into space like some zombie. I told him I was already late for the movie so I’d sign up at home. He then grabbed the card I had thought I’d need with the unique membership number and said I only get that when I sign up at home. Okay. Fuggeduhboutit!

The ticket taker observed me walking up and didn’t bother greeting me until I opened my mouth to say hi, first. Buzzer Poor, poor, poor customer service. Looking at the age of this guy, he had to be a Manager or someone in authority. I should’ve gotten his name. I asked him if the film was in Dolby Atmos. (I already knew it was because thats what the showtime ad said). He didn’t know, but looked at my ticket and said. ‘well, it says 'dolby’ so it MUST be Atmos. AHA! Okay. He told me where the theater was but no ‘enjoy the show.’

When I got to 7, the previews had started and the seat I had I could not see the number but visually, I sort of knew where it should be. Supposedly, there were to be 3 others in the same row but there was no one there. So much for reserved seating. The auditorium, itself reminded me of AMC’s newer theaters but in reduced size. I’d call them AMC’s IMAX-lite-lite. :D Screen size can’t be more than 50 ft. Seats were comfortable and, thankfully, all the armrests can be put up so you can make yourself more comfortable as long as you don’t have someone sitting next to you.

Presentation was good. The stylish glasses were spotted on the left but tolerable to see the movie. The digital 3D movie had decent color saturation and the expected darker picture was tolerable. The Atmos sound effects were mostly noticeable in some dialogue and people entering certain scenes. The sound could have been cranked up more beyond cradling you to sleep.

For $17 to watch a 3D DP film on a 40ft screen in Dolby Atmos is getting into IMAX-lite territory. Unfortunately, the customer service here is not there to justify such a high price point either.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about Arclight Bethesda on Jan 24, 2015 at 2:15 am

Giles, you saw a 2K DP version of 2001 and had the slightest notion it would be superior to that of 70mm??? Blasphemy!! Maybe it was a DVD that you saw. They showed a 2K 2001 at the Senator in Balto. I passed on that one. They play them at the AFI.

Since 2001 was shot in 65mm, they should do what they did with Blade Runner when they transfer it to digital by going higher with the resolution. I read they scanned BR at 8K.

I hope to make a visit there sometimes this week. I see the prices are $13 for a show! We’re entering IMAX-lite territory here. The concession fare is equally expensive but above your typical popcorn and nacho fare. We’ll see…

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about AMC Tysons Corner 16 on Jan 20, 2015 at 3:33 pm

On New Years Weekend, I caught the final Hobbit movie in IMAX-lite HFR 3D. The trailer for the Dec 2015 Star Wars movie was exciting to see on the B I G screen, but I’m holding reservations until I see more of the finished product. :) The Avengers sequel trailer looks just like the first one..not too exciting.

The movie started out okay but with a mirror-like distortion that I had thought was ‘normal’ but became annoying. About 1/3 of the way through, they stopped the show to ‘reboot’ the system. When they restarted the movie, what a difference! Since I don’t patronize this venue regularly, I can’t say for certain, but it seems that they frequently have some projection issue or breakdown. Sound and picture were their usual decent standards.

I really hate the reserved seating policy in this auditorium. While its good for those like me who may travel far and plan ahead to see a movie and want that perfect seat. It turned out the patrons sat in my seat. Fortunately, there were many empties so I ended up sitting 2 seats away. When its dark, you can hardly see the seat numbers. When the late comers would come, they too, got frustrated finding the correct seat, or found someone sitting in their seat and ended up sitting somewhere else. Thankfully, this wasn’t a sold out show or there would have been some commotion for sure. Then there were no AMC ushers anywhere in the auditorium or standing by to help people find their seats as was my experience at the Rave Fairfax multiplex years ago.

Also, the third tier seating section up is not so good to see the movie as your line of sight just about gets cut off. If you have a patron with a big head or is tall, you may get your view cut off. Not a good design. Unfortunately, the company I was keeping wanted seats that high not realizing it was TOO far up.

Lastly, the $19.00 single admission price is quite high. For that kind of price, everything should be PERFECT. No excuses to have the projection system rebooted. Its understandable the venue/format is top grade, but back in the day, they never charged extra for 70mm booked films.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about AFI Silver Theatre on Dec 28, 2014 at 9:03 pm

I didn’t. I think they had only 1 or 2 showings.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about AFI Silver Theatre on Dec 9, 2014 at 4:43 am

Thats awful to hear, Giles. Maybe the bookings were too heavy at AFI with their current schedule that they couldn’t get it. Or, the Wexner had exclusive rights to be the only venue in this market to show it? I forget the term now..but it was talked about in the Balto Senator’s forum a lot.

I did catch the Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture Thanksgiving week. There was a word document on the door indicating this version was not the theatrical version but is the first time this version has been shown theatrically.

An older man was at Concessions, no greeting, no thank you, no..‘your movie is showing in ..nothing. Its funny..I was running a little late, as usual, with the traffic and assumed it was in #1. They had the name of some other movie there and assumed it was in #2..ran there and nope, omg, not #3..ran there, nope. Went back to #1 and opened the door and yes, this was the one..they just started the overture with open curtains. I thought, maybe mistakenly so, that the curtains are closed during overtures. Being after the 4:30pm starting time and me finding my seat, I felt they were waiting just for me to arrive to start the movie :)

As the movie began, sure enough, the dulled picture was most likely the regular DVD that has been out for 13 years or so. Sound levels were okay, I did hear stereo in the front. Music was everywhere during the end credits. Despite the presentation quality, it was nice to see the TOS crew on the big screen. Despite its shortcomings, which are well documented, one has to appreciate the old style moviemaking such as key lighting on the bridge close ups of some of the stars, attention to detail such as the makeup, costumes and production design.

All in all, I enjoyed this presentation far better than the Richard Donner cut of Superman II they showed here in Blu Ray a few years back. Supe II was just awful and subdued as if to have a mono soundtrack.

If they ever make a proper theatrical print of the Director’s Edition of Star Trek, Paramount better do something about the current neutered soundtrack and polishing the VFX to theatrical standards of visual quality. Its okay to play at home. I’d think Gene Roddenberry would’ve objected to at least one change and that was the elimination of the ship’s male computer voice and klaxon ship alarms since it was his idea to have them in the first place. In the original release, they had you jump in your seat from the blaring alarms and the male computer voice was kind of futuristic cool, if a bit cold. It got your attention, which is the idea.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about AFI Silver Theatre on Nov 21, 2014 at 4:25 am

Thanks Steve for your info..informative as always.

When you say the projectionist checks the print in, is this done all the time? With sound levels, I gather the studio, perhaps the director (himself or herself) will have instructions to play the film a certain way with sound levels at a particular setting, etc. With today’s DP, how do you ‘check’ that in if its all on the hard drive? Does the theater do a trial run of the print, film or digital, before it actually is publically screened? And there is a back up for digital, and an extra film print (for film shows) just in case? And lastly, can’t the venue request the BEST print available, or does it just settle for whatever the studio wants to give out. I would think with the venue being AFI, they can and should get the absolute best print ALWAYS since you’ve got a projectionist to take extra care in film handling especially with 70mm and those other rare prints.

Re: 2001 sound. I forgot to mention the alarm system on the Discovery that went off was also not as ear drum splitting, along with the slightly faded graphics. Was the sound on digital disc or magnetic stripes? :)

My favorite showing of 2001 is still the advertised ‘virgin’ print back in ‘90 or so at the Uptown. If I scanned the ad from the Post, i’m wondering if the site would post it…

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about AFI Silver Theatre on Nov 20, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Haha. Giles! I knew 2001 had a very short run and I read about ‘Pulp..’ but 2001 won out for me since last night was its last night and ‘Pulp..’ is showing in #3. For as long as AFI Silver has been open, I’ve never seen a movie in that auditorium. I’m sure its okay, but it is the smallest of the 3. :P

If the venue has curtains, why not use them? Its part of the showmanship that cinemas are losing nowadays. Look at our local AMCs and cough Regals. But hey, we are getting comfy oversized leather, or faux leather, recliners! Ho-hum. Theaters should do everything they can from excellent customer service to venue amenities to keep people coming back.

I haven’t checked out the new Arclight, but hope to very soon. I think AFI and Landmark will get some competition from them and if their concession fare is better then AFI’s, which from the website, it seems to be, its going to be tough.

I’m not sure when you arrived, but did you hear/see the little commotion about the patron who got kicked out? I’m not sure if the AFI employee was the manager, he was casually dressed, or security. From what the patron was saying, he was caught switching theaters, but the employee just said ‘you know what you did.’ Not sure how it all ended since I was already late.

From my last two blogs, security there is lax. I walked in (with my print at home ticket) and there was no one there to check in..I just went in straight to #1 and saw the movie. Then there was the homeless guy with his cart of belongings, maybe he did have a ticket..shouldn’t be judgmental..I know. :)

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about AFI Silver Theatre on Nov 20, 2014 at 5:03 am

I caught ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ in 70mm tonight. The website denoted a Montgomery College gathering and I had mistakenly thought it was for students only. Surprisingly, the attendance was large for a weeknight showing, then again there were many students in attendance for a class discussion that followed after the movie.

With traffic, I knew I was going to run late and printed my ticket but still waited in the concession line to get in. I’m thinking to myself, whats the point in home ticket printing if you still have to wait to be let in. I understand its advantageous to buy concession stand fare, but its still a time waster. I missed maybe 1 minute as the movie started at the point of the ‘Thus Spake Zathrusta’ or whatever its called beginning music. It appears the curtain was used and there were probably no previews showed.

On the Concession stand front, I tried the Hummus with Pita bread for $5. While they microwaved the 5 little and I mean little pitas, its not worth $5. Maybe $2. The Capuccino was great for $3.50 and should sufficiently caffeinate someone for a movie that runs as long as 2001. :)

This time around, I just wanted to enjoy the movie and hoped the print was decent enough. On the in70mm site, there was a report about a new 4K print, yeah, this was 70mm..fine. This film print definitely was not new, or recent, there was some fading particularly the scene where the graphics to the stasis pods of the Discovery’s scientists in hybernation. Bowman’s close ups of his BIG BLUE eyes weren’t colorly vibrant, but thats ok. He looks less scary. :) Towards the middle of the end, after intermission, there were noticeable artifacts, line down the middle, blocks/patches..expected for aging film prints but not detractable from the enjoyment.

Some detractions other than the film were hearing the projector clackety clack from the booth up above when there was no music from the movie was playing (which was a good portion of it). I had thought there was sound proofing but evidently not. Also, a radio or CD playing could be heard, which I thought was an adjacent auditorium, but remembered this was no where near 2 and 3. Must have been the booth. Then there was a guy who added his own touch to the soundtrack with his buzz saw snoring. Thankfully, the intermission gave a break to it, but I believe he nodded off again afterwards but caught himself before the first snore. :)

Even with the amount of times of seeing this movie (or any favorite), sometimes you find something new that you didn’t from the prior viewings. During the Dawn of Man sequence, there seems to be a matte painting of a body of water..perhaps lake that was just beyond the ape encampment. I hoped they would reuse the same set up for a future scene to double check, but didn’t notice it again, which means I’ll need to watch the sequence the movie again to be sure.

A new question that popped in my head was why is it Dr. Floyd is the ONLY passenger not just on the Pan Am space flight to the station, but to the American moon base, too. Can you imagine an airline running a flight with just ONE passenger on it? I’d think they’d just cancel it. Not sure what Kubrick was thinking, of course, but he could have had a few more extras in those scenes other than the flight crew. Its no wonder Pan Am is out of business..can’t make money on single passenger space flights… :)

Sitting on the the other side of the theater, I did experience some surrounds not memorable from previous showings. HAL’s voice, for one. To be sure, I compared it to the voices of Bowman and Poole and sure enough, there voices were in front. I believe there needed to be more bass especially during the Stargate Corridor sequence based on my prior theatrical and home viewings. Not sure if they can be adjusted anyway.

When the movie ended, I was curious to see if anyone was going to clap and thought I would be first, but an older couple behind me beat me to it and the audience towards the theater’s rear followed. After the closing credits, a gentleman stood up and announced a discussion for his students and audience members who wanted to stay behind. I wish I had had time to stay just to see what Millenials, the close minded ones, would have to say about this film. I bet at least one would say that the 3 hour movie was 2 hours and 50 minutes too long. :)

Steve, if and when you read this, can you comment on whether the #1 or any of AFI’s auditoriums or modern venues in general, have some kind of equalizer or similar electronic device to tweak the sound? On the Ziegfeld page, with the current discussion on ‘Interstellar’s IMAX soundtrack, Vito was mentioning that on 70mm films he ran, they could improve on sound levels using some kind of equalizer.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Nov 11, 2014 at 4:43 am

For those of you who saw the 70mm movie here, did they show anything to denote that the presentation was in 70mm?

Back in the day, I remember there was a short “This movie PRESENTED in 7 0 M M” with the presented in 70mm in flying font like the end credits in Superman or the beginning ones in Superman II.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Nov 8, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Its a film on celluloid folks. If not handled right, you’ll have scratches, blotching, etc etc. Thats why we’ve got digital cough today. :)

I’m hoping the movie lasts through the holidays so I can see it here.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about AFI Silver Theatre on Nov 7, 2014 at 7:26 pm

HDCAM-SR? SR standing for spectral recording (stereo)? :)

I attended a showing of 2005’s ‘Corpse Bride’ along with two Tim Burton shorts in the Historic Auditorium. I believe I saw it originally in DP in #10 at BowTie Annapolis Mall during its original run. Unfortunately, someone deleted all pre-2K7 posts, so I can’t be sure, now. :P The print seems to hold up well and the sound was amazing showcasing Burton-fave composer, Danny Elfman and his wonderful score. I came in as they were drawing the curtain, surprise surprise! I didn’t know the Historic Auditorium had side masking (cropped for the shorts). When my friend and I saw the original King Kong in #2, I believe the screen was curtained off, but not sure, as that post is gone. I remember the THX trailer and thinking whats the point? This is an old B&W mono sound movie. Sadly, there was probably only 5 people in the whole auditorium for the show.

I like the director Robert Wise film memorabilia. The original Star Trek movie Enterprise model looks cute. I have the original souvenir movie program and some other things, I wonder if they’d be interested in showcasing them (on loan, of course) in exchange for some free movie passes? :)

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about Blog Hiatus on Oct 28, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Ross, over the years, I have been noticing certain theaters have had missing comments. Its as if they were deleted (to make space?) or somehow ‘lost.’ I’ve emailed to the comments mailbox but have never received a response. Not one.

Maybe the updates will include short video uploads of favorite theaters? :)

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about Arclight Bethesda on Oct 28, 2014 at 8:18 pm

How can anyone be ‘excited’ about 35mm projection? On a platter, most likely! Plllleaaase! Harken back to the days of scratched prints, blotchy picture, no thank you. The Arclight website did boast 70mm at ‘all’ locations but not here :P

On a positive note, I am anxious to check this place out for myself given all the hoopla about presentation and sound ‘exceeding’ THX certs.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about AFI Silver Theatre on Oct 16, 2014 at 4:36 am

HDCam being cassette?? Nooooo. That would be a travesty. I shudder at the thought of how that would look widescreen in either #2 or the Historic Auditorium.

I think the DE of TMP was made specifically with standard DVD in mind, which is what.. 480 dp? So when BluRay came out, they couldn’t release the DE of TMP because the supplemental effects would need to be rendered for the higher standard. The AFI schedule did indicate a lot of showings compared to other Wise films. I’m hoping they present it the way I remember it, complete with curtains, light dims and the overture. :)

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about MacArthur Theater on Oct 16, 2014 at 4:20 am

Re: KB Cinema’s sound system. I remember it pretty well when ‘Empire Strikes Back’ played there. The Tie fighters whizzing by like jet craft in stereo sound all around..now, I’m afraid to say surround sound.

In regard to sound systems in general and thinking about the above posts, imho, you don’t need great sophisticated equipment to experience sound around you to get that spatial effect. I remember when broadcast tv began stereo broadcasts in the mid 80s. While Johnny Carson’s show was not that great, Miami Vice and more so, the awards shows had some cool stereo spatial effects. I still have a PCM recording of Janet Jackson performing..lip synching to ‘Control’, from the AMA awards show and there’s screaming everywhere..yelling to the left of me..behind me..applause, people shouting ‘JANET!’ All I had was a Pioneer Digital 8 stereo player and 4 speakers placed around the living room and a 25" Sony tv.

Now discovering how technically unsophisticated the Mac’s system was, whatever and however I heard it, mono surrounds and all, it was enough to immerse me into whatever was happening onscreen as long as I sat in that sweet spot, which was usually in front of the back of the middle section and center.

Giles, as far as I can remember the only Star Trek films shown at the Uptown were Star Trek II and the reboots..I think. If they did, I would have been there at at least one of the showings. II had a one week run in Dec ‘82 just before Gandhi opened there in 70mm. I know this for a fact because I saw it 2x :) I can still remember driving my Mom to work before her 7pm shift and hightailing across Mass Ave to Woodley, trying to find parking before the 7pm or 7:30pm show..in the snow.

Why see the movie so many times? With a good film, when you see it again and again, you sometimes experience something or see something you did not recall from the previous viewings. What I recall from the Uptown viewing, different from prior ones, was how the sound system was able to convey the ship engine sounds ‘slowing’ just prior to the Reliant attack on the Enterprise. The ‘screw hitting the floor’ sound that I refer to in my previous posts, for whatever lack of tech sophistication in the hardware here, sounded less prominent at the Uptown. I always thought the Uptown’s sound was sometimes muffled, albeit slightly, in comparison to here and other venues.

Visually, the expanse of the Uptown’s superior screen size improved on the 70mm experience (aside from the grain) vs the Mac’s for sure. Starfields, simplistic effects for sure, made you feel you were traveling in space and the full beauty shots of the ships like the Reliant’s were all the more dramatic.

Going back to the sound topic at the Mac, pre ‘82 remodel, Steve mentioned the exposed front speakers in the front of the theater that were there because they couldn’t fit or be hidden. Looking back, it was a blessing in disguise because were they to be hidden behind something, they would probably impede the sound delivery.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about MacArthur Theater on Oct 14, 2014 at 4:22 am

Steve, I’m completely floored by what you have revealed. Most of it is highly technical, which is cool and will take me time to digest.

I vaguely remember the layout of the main theater after the ‘82 remodel. When you mention 'bookshelf’ speakers, it makes me think of long rods from the ceiling attaching a box like speaker at equal distances, angled such that it faces or directs sound at the audience. Were these speakers that cheap??? It had to have sufficient construction to deliver sound better than a home setup I would think.
I remember seeing ‘Brainstorm’ here and in the heavy sequences hearing crackling sounds from the middle as if the sound was too much for the speakers to handle. Maybe thats why…they were THAT cheap!

All I know is what I have experienced and how I perceived things. If the Mac had such a not-so-glam set up, I am dumbfounded to have those positive cinematic memories forever ingrained in my mind as one of the ‘best.’ Its got to mean something even with what you say were minimalist standards of that time.

So, what in your opinion, of the 70mm capable theaters in the DC metro area were technically BEST? I am curious about the Fine Arts theater now since I have fond memories of 70mm there. Maybe we should continue that discussion there. I thought those tube speakers made it state of the art and were better looking than boxes dropping down from the ceiling. :)

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about MacArthur Theater on Oct 13, 2014 at 4:47 am

Steve, I hear what you’re saying, so how is it what I experienced ‘mono’, if the sound was particularly (deliberately) placed?? And the movies I experienced were advertised 70mm 6 track STEREO, probably Dolby. I’m tempted to search through the Washington Post archives just to look at both the movie ad and Post movie directory. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the terminology by using ‘surround,’ but when I speak of my movie experience, I hear distinct sounds coming from different parts of the theater as described in my various posts.

Thinking back on my memory of II’s 70mm Mac showing, just after the screw hitting the floor sound, there’s the rear right to front left swoosh sound of Kirk’s son, just prior to his onscreen attack. The subsequent sound of empty metallic cargo containers being tossed about as they fight (in an obviously rehearsed and WWF-fake fashion) with these containers tossed about heard mangnificently in distinct surround.

If you recall projecting the movie, how could you not recall hearing this? If the spatial sound that I heard is not stereo but mono, how can this be?

When I saw Star Trek II at the AMC Academy 6 in plain Dolby Stereo, that scene I mentioned played differently as the entire ‘right’ side would produce the screw hitting the floor sound element. In 70mm 6 track, the sound produces the urge to turn your head ‘towards’ the sound. That was a neat trick!

Back in those days, my favorite seat was closer to the front but not smack IN front of the screen but to where my peripheral vision is such that the field of vision is flat or 180º. This way I am not distracted by the theater’s decor or lack thereof and am ‘immersed’ into whats going onscreen and being sound surrounded. That is how I recall blogging about my 70mm movie experiences :)

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about AFI Silver Theatre on Oct 13, 2014 at 4:13 am

Howard, I think I’m going to see the film locally at one of the Smithsonian IMAX theaters. I’m looking forward to it. If the movie is still booked through the holidays, maybe I can convince my friend to drive up with me to the Ziegfeld.

Looking at the AFI’s calendar, it seems they are booking ‘West Side Story’ in 70mm, afterall. The last time I saw it here in 70mm was underwhelming. One of the posters on the Ziegfeld page claimed he heard snaps and whistling from all over the theater, (was it) before the credits, in its original 70mm release. I didn’t experience that though I did sit way in the back in the lounge seats.

Now, if they can find one of the newer 70mm prints for ‘Sound of Music,’ this would be a retrospective even the late Robert Wise would love to attend.

It also appears they’ve changed the version of Robert Wise’s ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ as they are showing the director’s cut in some format called HDCam. What the heck is that? Sounds like video taken with a HD camera??? As far as I know, they never printed a film from the director’s cut even though Wise had supposedly wanted a re-release ala the ‘Star Wars’ special editions. Judging by the DVD version, its good they didn’t. I really hate the way they dumbed some of the original audio elements that, imho, took away some of the original dramatic edge. It plays okay for tv. Wouldn’t it be cool to have all 3 versions; original film (if there’s a good print), Blu-Ray (as originally planned) and the director’s cut. :)

It would be nice to have a Robert Wise pre-movie featurette before each Wise film. Or, at least have an AFI employee or intern introduce each one. With iMovie, youtube and the AFI archives, they could easily put something together… :)

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about MacArthur Theater on Oct 7, 2014 at 2:57 am

Giles, I Saw ‘Dark Crystal’ here, too, as it was 70mm and it was when the place was triplexed. While the puppeteering (spelling) and creatures were cool for its time, my only memory was the score and surrounds at the end of the movie.

I still remember running around the now ‘new’ balconies made as a result of the remodel. I think I caught 2001 here during a rare 70mm screening sitting in #2, the main auditorium, and just enjoying the place for what it was. Also, I believe ‘White Nights’ or is it ‘Knights’ with Gregory Hines and Mikhail Barishnakov was playing here in 70mm. The only reason I wanted to see the movie and remember enjoying was the dancing part that had a great set up, but went nowhere as Hines' character couldn’t hit it and Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Say You, Say Me’ in the theater’s stereo system, at the end of the movie.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan commented about MacArthur Theater on Oct 4, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Interesting info, Steve, as always. You state the Mac never had stereo surrounds only mono surrounds, so how would you explain me hearing the following:

In Star Trek II, as I posted on the AFI Silver page, there was this screw dropping hitting the floor sound heard right and rear in the BACK of the theater. I distinctly heard this many times and on the subsequent viewings, looking forward to audience reaction (heads turning towards the sound. Then Kirk shouting ‘KHAAAAN’ starting in front, progressing to the middle of the theater and echoing in the rear trailing off..as the camera seems to pull back to show his voice carrying off into space..or something to that effect.

What I’m trying to say is if this ‘mono’ how is the sound separation such that its around you and there’s that s-p-a-t-i-a-l quality to it that brings the movie to life? When I hear ‘mono,’ I think pre-1950s movies, B&W, flat sound, no right to left, left to right, nothing. Okay, Fantasia may be the exception.

In Brainstorm (1983), when Natalie Wood’s character is sobbing for her husband to ‘come back’ from the trip going to ‘heaven,’ you hear her voice all around the theater..i forget where but various lines are heard in rapid succession and repeated, ‘Michael’ was heard in one part, ‘Anthony (character’s middle name) 'Brace’ somewhere else. Then her next lines, ‘don’t leave me’ and ‘GET UP’ would be sound mixed heard all over the theater as the visuals take you on this light trip. It is all happening super fast ..Michael..Michael..Anthony..Anthony.. BraceBraceBrace..don’t leave (get up!) me!

So all this is ‘mono’?

What was cool was the regular shots were 35mm but almost filled up the Mac’s screen, then the 65mm visual fx and/or pov shots would go wide. As you state, the screen wasn’t large enough (wide) for 70mm, that makes sense.

I think the director’s intent would have made more dramatic impact had the right screen been had to show the difference. But during its DC release, this was the largest theater. Not sure about VA..I remember it was booked at GCC’s Springfield’s 70mm #1 and a few others but screenwise, the other’s would be about the same, if not smaller.