Comments from John Fink

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John Fink
John Fink commented about Gold Class Cinemas takes Dinner-and-Movie to new heights on Aug 22, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I defend places like this because I see 4-5 movies a week, I’m unusual. Sometimes it would be nice to have a meal with the show, especially during the week if I’m rushing between work, going to the gym (so I’m not a grossly overweight American as Mike describes), and seeing a film as a form of relaxation (I prefer going to the movies to watching TV as a way of unwinding after a busy day). Granted I’m not a baller and couldn’t afford the Gold Class experience often, I like the idea of an expanded concession menu provided the food is of a certain reasonably good quality: Regal’s pizzas are awful, AMC’s chicken fingers are pretty good, National Amusements and Cineplex Entertainment have pretty good expanded food options in most theaters, and Cinemark had pretty good chicken fingers as well. I will try Fork & Screen and would try Gold Class at least once if they were to open anywhere near me or I’m near one (and there’s something good to see – I sure as hell would be pissed paying $35 for a bad flick).

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Atlantic Times Square 14 on Aug 21, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Interesting but the Loews was certainly not “Loew’s”. The last few years after Sony ran the company, which were amongst the best in terms of operations, I found as a customer were downright awful. Under Loews Cineplex the theaters became dirty with poor quality customer service and projection – AMC has been better, but under Loews Cineplex I mostly would go elsewhere – poor management destroyed that company.

As for the design, while I haven’t seen it, I do know of the (forth/fifth?) to last AMC Loews that opened (well tied, I think another opened the same day) – in Rockaway, NJ. It owes quite a bit in design to the Cineplex Odeon locations. The next (third?) to open I think was Garden State which had the Loews structure but was finished in AMC style (with AMC seats, carpets, lobby fixtures, ect) – which I’m guessing Atlantic Times Square will be, it’s nicer than Rockaway.

Having visited the Cineplex Odeon Queensway outside of Toronto I can say, short of expanded concessions, the design roughly similar to AMC Rockaway. This center I’d argue from the plans and intel Jeff has posted over on Cinematour, like Garden State, isn’t a cookie cutter free standing box (it can’t be, its designed around a shopping center).

“Loews Theaters” really exists in name only – unlike Regal and Cinemark that still open theaters under the Edwards and Century brands they acquired, AMC chose not to treat Loews as a brand, instead it served as a theater name, my guess to differentiate the theaters that were served by Fandango and those that were served by Movietickets.com – a divide that still exists 4+ years after the merger.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Pascack Theatre on Aug 17, 2010 at 10:36 am

Does anyone know which 3-D system they’re using because the person that answered their management line doesn’t!

John Fink
John Fink commented about University City 6 Theatre on Aug 15, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Picture with the new signage….eww:

View link

John Fink
John Fink commented about The End of Theatrical Moviegoing? on Aug 15, 2010 at 6:30 am

I fully agree, however I think that movie going will be further consolidated. There are some theaters where I’ll show up on a weekday night and be the only one in the theater – I don’t know how they make ends meet (even if I buy a medium popcorn and soda). That seems inevitable, but then again there are multiplexes which sell out, even on weekday nights.

Theaters that provide a poor experience, that don’t care about presentation quality are the antichrist, they push people to home theaters. I personally don’t think the experience will die, I like sitting in the dark with strangers which is cinema’s advantage. I personally think putting bars and restaurants in theaters is a good thing for the future of cinema, those passionate about cinema want to talk and share ideas about it (not during the show). Perhaps what we really need is a theater chain to distill the experience of a good film festival and I think AMC is trying that with their facebook page, which isn’t a bad thing.

Theaters need to work on aiding that emotional connection to the cinema, seeing a film on a bigger screen than you’ll ever be able to build in your house. Premium upcharges for me don’t do that (especially for those non-legacy IMAX and digital large screen theaters that prove D-IMAX was a horrible idea). 3-D isn’t going to save exhibition. Exhibition has to save exhibition, those that do it well will be rewarded, those that don’t will be consolidated unless they adapt.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Lakeland Square 10 closed on Aug 5, 2010 at 8:15 am

Vintage pre-Regal sale – Cobb Theaters from the pictures on the Ledger site. Of coarse what’s funny is the quote about silent movies – Movieland a discount theater outside of Hartford, CT kind of did that. With a 16MM projector they showed classic films in one aud, 6 second run features on the other screens (although Lionsgate let them show some features on break, day and date with the big 20-plex down the road oddly enough – including Punisher and Diary of a Mad Black Women) – and one screen was dark. They scrapped the 35MM projector parts on the 16MM and the dark screen to keep the 6 screens running.

Perhaps the Lakeland Square 10 when repaired will have another life, sound perfect for a discount house or maybe depending on the area a Cobb Cinebistro.

John Fink
John Fink commented about 3-D boom going bust? on Aug 5, 2010 at 7:27 am

I just got an e-mail from Film Forum about their upcoming programing – this may be of interest:
http://www.filmforum.org/films/classic3d.html

John Fink
John Fink commented about 3-D boom going bust? on Aug 4, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Well there is a school of thought that argues that 3-D when used subtly can function as another tense of film grammar. It’s alarming that notable Hollywood filmmakers have embraced and signed on to direct 3-D films, but I don’t think it can transcend its function as a gimmick. Subtly I think is not why we pay an extra $2-5 for 3-D and thus we have this backlash.

To comment on the gimmicks – they’re nothing new – and now we have D-BOX with seats that rumble. I have to say I was suppressed at this technology and I admit it works for films of a certain style. I had a fun time seeing Inception in D-BOX – whereas I preferred seeing Toy Story 3 in 2-D (I saw it in IMAX and 35MM). I would argue that filmmakers don’t need gimmicks to be engaging, however the very nature of narrative story telling is built on gimmicks – what is a Mcguffins but a gimmick of sorts that advances a plot forward.

I’m all for immersive technologies, the boundaries of cinema/moving image have been pushed in other areas such as gallery instillations and perhaps the paradigm of the theater is shifting or at least the perception is forced to change through branding which may or may not work (ie: IMAX, XD, ETX, RPX, Ultra AVX…). I think cinematic language needs to evolve and I think I might ultimately do some research in the area of IMAX as a film language that never fully developed: the grammar in a MacGillivray Freeman doc varies from a Hollywood IMAX film. Christopher Nolan’s use of IMAX in the Dark Knight is also worth exploring – it’s both a spectacle (when seen in a “legacy IMAX”) and a language.

As for 3-D, it’s has always been a spectacle and never properly considered as a language as the technology for creating 3-D CGI images didn’t exist in 3-D’s first outing. Therefore the technology exists but the grammar is being discovered, and I view IMAX’s early spectacles and nature docs as similar to the Lummiere Bros' early films – they existed to showcase the technology.

The technology exists now filmmakers have to do something interesting with it, I wouldn’t dismiss gimmicks and fun after all this is mainstream Hollywood filmmaking and gimmicks were used by many a master filmmaker. Perhaps 3-D can be used interestingly in the context of an art film, the brilliant experimental filmmaker Stan Brackhage did make an IMAX film. Imagine what a Matthew Barney 3-D film might be like: perhaps it would find that intersection of spectacle and gimmick.

John Fink
John Fink commented about 3-D boom going bust? on Aug 4, 2010 at 9:11 am

I think what people are getting frustrated by is how little some 3-D films offer in terms of 3-D. It’s a gimick for sure – it should be embrassed as such – I want pies flying in my face, damn it! After the horror of “converted 3-D” films including Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans, and The Last Airbender 3-D that wasted a perfectly good dimention it’s no wonder people aren’t lining up to see Cats & Dogs 2, a sequel no one asked for.

Despicable Me, however is one of the best uses of 3-D I’ve ever seen as well as a fun film. It should be a textbook on how to use it properly and if you notice the box office is healthy for it: again proving you have to first make a good film that considers the complexities of a film language like 3-D and what it can do. Despicable Me succeeds because it has fun with itself, without that third dimension it would still be a witty flick.

Although I don’t think it’ll be a huge hit, I have some hope for Step Up 3-D which I think will be a good use of the 3-D or at least from what I’ve seen, those movies are fun gimmicks on their own – perhaps if it succeeds we’ll get You Got Served 2 in 3-D (couldn’t be any worse than the first one).

Re: JordarMovieFan – some chains won’t let you “upgrade” to 3-D using a voucher, part of my frustration is Regal is the only game in town for Step Up 3-D and I’m going to pay $14 for it – painful if it sucks. (Our local AMC has $4.50 flicks during the week – with a $3 upcharge – $7.50 for 3-D is good deal).

As for systems, any preferences? I’ve seen Real D in both the sony 4K solution (where the 4K file is split into 2 2K files and projected simultaneously) which delivers good brightness, single beam Real D (NEC, Christie 2K) and Dolby Digital 3-D. Anybody else know of another theater with Technicolor’s 35 film based 3-D aside from Bow Tie Cinemas and Apple Valley in RI? I want to see that one in action next (before 3-D dies, lol).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Hollywood Cinemas on Jul 28, 2010 at 11:29 am

The General Cinema you speak of was likely Essex Green (West Orange). I knew it in the 90’s as a triplex. That theater closed and reopened as part of the shopping center in 1997 as a new generation of General Cinema with stadium seating and a cafe. It’s still open and running as an AMC.

I’m guessing Clearview’s 5 screens at SOPAC, as tiny and strangely designed as they are didn’t help the Hollywood either. Essex Green, last I was there is still a popular and well run venue that must have a future if AMC is putting in digital projectors.

John Fink
John Fink commented about IFC Center on Jul 27, 2010 at 5:23 am

Chuck’s link from Jan 18 shows The Waverly Cafe (to the right of the entrance, which was probably at that time only open for “special events” at that time – I think the cafe only operated for a year) and the Jul 27 link shows the empty store front. In place of the Cafe are two auditoriums: one that’s acceptable (4), the other that is downright shameful (5). 5 is currently showing Valhalla Rising – you’d be better off watching it on your iPhone 4 than in that auditorium (I saw it on a huge screen at TIFF last September, it’s meant to be seen that way).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Palace 17 and Odyssey Theater on Jul 25, 2010 at 12:41 am

Cinema City is covered here by the Courant – so far it sounds like they’re doing the right things – I hope it remains and develops into a place for the Hartford film community and they get more involved. Parkville certainly isn’t a bad place to be with Real Art Ways down the street and the annual Hartford International Film Festival (if Bow Tie and the city lent some additional support that festival could grow and increase attendance – which in return would boast Bow Tie’s bottom line in developing a special wing for film goers with taste). Here’s the article on the new theater:

View link

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cinema City 4 on Jul 25, 2010 at 12:30 am

Now closed – but excellent news for fans of the seats – they might have a new life at another Bow Tie Cinema: View link

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cinema On The Mall I & II on Jul 24, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Alright – my last post was about the Regal (which has no cinema treasures page)

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cinema On The Mall I & II on Jul 24, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Was this one a Hoyts / Cinema Centers ?

Box office on the first floor, theater is on the second floor of the center court (entrance adjacent to the food court). Didn’t go in, just saw the lobby area, which made me think Hoyts.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Avatar re-release date set on Jul 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm

then again anybody remember THE PASSION RECUT …… (insert random crazy Mel Gibson-ism here)

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cineplex Cinemas Queensway & VIP on Jul 18, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Saw Inception digitally projected here in Theater 9 tonight in D-Box Motion Code – very impressed with the technology which is more fun and immersive than 3-D. Theater 18 is their new digital large screen answer to IMAX – Ultra AVX, which recently opened with Twilight: Eclipse.

The theater was packed, even on a Sunday night with shows sell out – extremely popular and it has the aforementioned Pizza Pizza and Out Takes, as well as Alan Smittee’s bar, Yogen Fruz and Tim Hortons.

My only problem with Theater 9 is that it wasn’t masked correctly (they had it open for Flat when the film was in scope). Otherwise no complaints – we had a fun time.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Showcase Cinemas East Hartford on Jul 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Anything going on with my old escape from a rough day of school? I loved this place. It was the first theater we visited when we went to look at where I went to undergrad (UHa) and I frequented it often on late weekday nights where I’d have one of those giant 400 seat auditriums to myself. I made the mistake of taking a girl on a first date here to see Queen Latifia in Beauty Shop, she said to me “this is amazing, how could a theater this big have no one in here” – it’s no wonder they closed – all my favorite theaters where I see awesome movies alone like Cineplaza and The Screening Zone in NJ are gone.

The place is/was still in good repair and kept spotless by the staff – only ever had one strange complaint about it – they jumbled the last two reels on a Bollywood film. I remember thinking “gee, that movie just ended – what happened to the other guy” and then I stayed after the final musical number and then – there was another 20 minutes that explained it all. National sent me 4 free passes for bringing it to their attention.

I’m willing to bet if someone could/were to reopen this as a discount house (could probably never happen, I think the property was sold with the condition it could be a theater) it could do some solid business.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Regal Champlain Center theater closing for upgrades on Jul 13, 2010 at 6:29 am

I’ve seen this when a theater upgrades and they only have one mens/women’s room that they are redoing along with the rest of the complex. Clearview (who didn’t upgrade to stadium) closed a few theaters in Northern NJ at various points, for a few weeks at a time while they upgraded seating, restrooms and concession stands. Regal is probably going to overhaul the whole Hoyts plex and make it look like a new Regal (if it’s anything like other Hoyts it’s probably, ugly, 80’s, and utilitarian.)

John Fink
John Fink commented about Ann Arbor 20 + IMAX on Jul 11, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I just figured something about about this theater while looking at pictures on Cinema Treasures: I believe that the short lived CyGamZ entertainment center which closed prior to the sale to Rave was housed in the original lobby. Therefore it looks like 6 screens and a lobby were tacked on to one end of old Showcase 14. The old lobby housed CyGamZ. (CyGamZ still lives on in images on its myspace page). Please someone correct me if I’m wrong.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Scotiabank Theatre Toronto on Jul 10, 2010 at 8:24 pm

They’ve shut down NY Fries, KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut in favor of Pizza Pizza and a smaller concession stand that offers chicken fingers and fries (where NY Fries was). Surf City and Burger King are still in operation.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Former AMC Star Taylor reopens as the Spotlight Taylor on Jul 9, 2010 at 7:01 pm

While I certainly wish them all the best I’m always weary of operators talking about lower price points as a means of attracting business on first run engagements, I find most then charge more at the concession stand. I’m not sure if people are motivated by price, although they complain about it for sure. I find that the majority of movie goers and I’m using my friends as an example gravitate towards the “new” “comfortable” stadium plexes or to the local theater that has a convenient showtime, and away from older theaters. I’m not sure bargain days work – Clearview certainly packs them in on free movie Tuesdays (for cable subscribers with an Optimum card), but I’ve seen other chains with minimal attendance on special nights. I guess it’s all about how you get the word out and continue to promote.

Sure, theaters that are second run and advertise $2-4 shows seem to do well on that price point, but I find advertising “low prices” which are only a dollar or two lower doesn’t work, although I will point to a Loews Richfield Park which became a first run theater with a $6 ticket price while everyone was approaching 9-10, that worked. Now that AMC runs the show I believe they come in slightly lower (last I was there I think they were 9 verses 11 at the nearest competitor National Amusements), but it’s not something to brag about in print, for $2 more I’ll take National Amusements.

But I do wish any theater operator willing to go into the market all the best, perhaps they were able to negate a better deal which makes the site a more viable operation than AMC had. I’ve seen smaller operators that try and fail and others that are successful for a variety of reasons, I wouldn’t look at the airline industry, I’d look at theater chains (Harkins comes to mind first) that turned themselves around and how they did it.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Loews Factoria Cinemas on Jul 5, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Cinematour mentions SRO Theaters (which Cineplex Odeon bought out in the Pacific Northwest)

John Fink
John Fink commented about RC Maumee 18 on Jul 3, 2010 at 8:48 pm

It depends on a few things – Rave sold the land the theaters sit on to Entertainment Property Trust, if they sold this one they’re still paying rent on it, if not EPT could be free to lease it out to another chain (like they’re doing at the Grand 24). But my guess is having another operator come in would defeat the purpose of closing up here, but I’m sure this is a nice multiplex that’s still in good condition (National never ran their theaters into the ground).

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Loews Stroud Mall 7 on Jul 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I’m guessing that main auditorium would hold 299 (the magic number to avoid having to build in top access). I’m also guessing the new theater would get an entrance directly across from the Food Court.

It is the end of an era – Music Makers build really crappy looking theaters, acquired by Loews, while Red Bank is still in operation, this is the last still run as Loews/AMC. The only reason this theater did well is because no one came in and opened a modern multiplex within 10 miles, if that happened I doubt it would survived (then again a location in a still active mall with 7 screens is helpful).

AMC it seems has no interest in reviving many of their formerly viable locations: they let Cocowalk to go Paragon, Kerasotes build a theater the parking lot of their plex in Secacus, and Magic Johnson Crenshaw close up because they couldn’t agree with the mall who should pay for the cost of renovating the complex. Although in NJ Bridgewater and Menlo Park might be getting upgraded the Fork & Screen concept, AMC perhaps is more likely to build new than to upgrade.

I’ll have to check this place out when Cinemark reopens it (I tried to see something here a few weeks ago but nothing I hadn’t seen was starting within the half hour, I did snap a few pics of both theaters that I’ll send to Cinema Tour)