Comments from John Fink

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John Fink
John Fink commented about Kinnelon 8 on Oct 18, 2010 at 6:22 am

It’s only been about 10 years that Clearview has been charging a first run ticket price for a poor quality experience. Meanwhile the concession stand has been upgraded a few times since CJM’s ownership.

I’m glad right as 35MM is dying that Clearview is investing in bringing the theater up to the standards that say, General Cinema had in the 1960’s. I’ve had more bad experiences with this theater than good ones from the film ending before the credits (a manager once told me “there’s nothing I can do, you saw the whole movie” – someone this disrespectful to filmmakers should not be presenting films for a living) to several projection issues ranging from framing to focus problems. The front two houses are generally decent, while the back houses are in general kind of awful (except 10 and 11 which I don’t believe have the aforementioned construction problem).

As I’ve said before I could be more forgiving if this was a second run discount house (Teneck has pretty poor projection, they’ve always had – but they are a second run house and priced accordingly) – but for $10.75 a seat, which is about the going rate for a first run ticket in the area, you’d hope to have a good experience. I should also note that there are two theaters that had opened in the last 12 months in Northern New Jersey, they have no issue offering proper aspect ratios, sharp focus, good sound, and stadium seating and are able to do all this at a cheaper price point ($10 for adults).

The theater gets away with providing a crappy experience because they have in the past provided such terrible answers to projection complaints as “the movie was sent to us this way” – and sadly people don’t question it, or demand a refund and see the film elsewhere.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Garden State 16 on Oct 18, 2010 at 5:43 am

ETX is almost as pointless as digital IMAX, I saw Fredrick Wiseman’s Boxing Gym on the ETX in Toronto (granted not a highly visual action picture that requires thumping base) but it is just that: a large screen with a good sound system. For the most part AMC Garden State offers that without paying an upgrade fee. Of coarse the worst thing is that AMC now charges $12 and soon Clearview will think they can for their crappy discount house quality Bergen County theaters – Tenafly which is downright awful in terms of comfort and projection is now $11.50! (two new stadium seating theaters in Northern New Jersey do a better job for an adult price of $10)

I can’t wait for this weekend when I get to experience the high quality clarity that IMAX was made for with Paranormal Activity 2: An IMAX Experience. If there was ever a movie requiring a high definition image it’s Paranormal Activity 2.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Video shot at Colonial Theater nearly twenty years ago becomes a reality series! on Oct 18, 2010 at 5:35 am

Two moron spammers on the same page – there needs to be better vetting here.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Warner Bros. cancels 3D release of "Harry Potter" film on Oct 17, 2010 at 6:47 am

True, but it sounds like Harry Potter was going to be a converted job and they didn’t want to have another Clash of the Titans or Last Airbender on their hands which had minimal (if at all) 3-D effects. Jackass itself is a performance art spectacle, just what 3-D was made for (although I haven’t seen it yet).

Secondly I wish spammers would speak better English so it was less obvious that they were spammers. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to help this exiled billionaire in Niagara get back home to London….

John Fink
John Fink commented about Video shot at Colonial Theater nearly twenty years ago becomes a reality series! on Oct 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Fun times – spent many a summer as a patron of the Colonial, right around 1993 (nice seeing Dennis The Mennis in one clip on the big screen downstairs, I probably saw it there with my grandma one summer afternoon).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Theatre management company for hire on Oct 13, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Well clearly – seeing from what looks to be a picture of Loews Boston Common on their homepage they must manage all of AMC! (kidding)

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Brentwood 14 on Oct 7, 2010 at 7:25 am

Was this originally slated to be under a different operator? The exterior pictures of the side of the building look Cinemark-like?

John Fink
John Fink commented about Soundview Cinemas on Oct 2, 2010 at 6:44 am

While I can’t defend Clearview, which is a chain that I think has done some serious damage to the movie going culture in Northern New Jersey (Kinnelon is unforgivable mess, the second worst theater in terms of projection I’ve seen), I will say after reading the articles the problem may be high taxes in town, thus rents were raised, tenants left, and so forth. Still a theater is a major draw as an anchor for any shopping center. Perhaps another operator could come in here and strike a more favorable lease, remodel the theater a bit and reopen it. This is not uncommon, but is more so in down south I feel, where you read about old AMC and General Cinema sites getting gutted and rebuilt with stadium seating. It’s less common in the North East for whatever reason.

I’d be willing to bet Bow Tie is reviewing the economies of operating Soundview right now. Otherwise I suppose if the attendance numbers are strong an indie might consider making a go of it.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Studio Movie Grill Northwest Highway on Sep 30, 2010 at 10:24 pm

It appears AMC is only showing films on 12 screens ?

John Fink
John Fink commented about Theaters to be required to post calorie counts on Sep 22, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Anyone company that sells food items at more than 10 stores nationally in New York City, including cinemas, are required to post calorie counts on the menu boards. I don’t think its government intrusion to require a company to produce information the vender should have on hand anyway. Why should this be secretive?

I know at Starbucks they offer a brochure with Nutrition Facts. This requirement simply makes it so that consumers can have more access to information, accordingly I saw a press release from Regal that they soon going to offer a “100 Cal” snack pack with a small popcorn and Coke Zero at their concession stands. I think that’s a creative approach to offering more choice.

I see a lot of films, at least twice a week I have popcorn and soda. I might downgrade to a smaller size when I figure how long on a treadmill it’ll take to burn off that consumption. The regulation makes it so that customers can see what is already known so you know exsactly what you are purchasing? Are you also against labeling ingredients on food packaging? Is it government intrusion to require this information be clear and in easy to understand language so that if you have an allergy you can avoid it?

John Fink
John Fink commented about San Bernardino Stadium 14 & RPX on Sep 22, 2010 at 5:19 am

Originally it was designed to be an AMC, who pulled out at some point.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Toronto International Film Festival opens its new theater complex September 12 on Sep 16, 2010 at 5:38 am

I’ll be here on Saturday for After Shock – but I was at the opening block party they ran on the 12th – the facility is a beatiful temple of cinema: the first floor contains the Essential Cinema exhibit, gift shop, box office and bistro. The second floor has a lounge/sit down restaurant and theaters 1-3, the third floor has theaters 4-5 which are currently showing instillation works – 4 has Atom Egoyan’s 8 ½ Screens (scenes from 8 ½ are projected onto screens draped over the seats, viewed from the front of the theatre), and a piece by Guy Maddin. Also on this floor are studios/classrooms.

The sad thing is I’m pretty sure (maybe AFI…but I’m pretty sure) we have nothing quite like this is the USA. Then again this is probably the reason why tickets are so darn expensive for TIFF and getting more expensive every year. It’s exciting though that TIFF will bring first run art films that would have never played at the Carleton or Cumberland to town along side their Cinematheque Ontario screenings – although I’m not sold on that being the right neighborhood for it – it’s a shame that the festival is moving away from uptown. Then again the parties in Yorkville will still continue and that neighborhood which we walked around in before the Easy A premiere at Isabelle Badder was packed with black SUVs and limos.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Theater chain to operate new theater on Ft. Bliss military base on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:00 pm

My understanding is Reel Time Theaters are usually single screen venues that are “programed” much like a college student union showing films after their first run theatrical release. Whereas Freedom Crossings sounds like an ambitious suburban complex and 10-screens with a large and growing population requires a first run operator. Is Grand/Southern Theaters managing the complex or are they actually leasing the property. I imagine a lease would be risky, especially since the future success of the base/community depends on military spending and strategy – they again I speak of what I know very little – I will shut up now.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Atlantic Times Square 14 on Aug 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I believe it was of the “Star” design vintage which was from the partnership Loews had with Star Theaters – the folks that ran that chain were hired to run the chain under Sony – they were excellent. When they sold out to the Canadians and formed Loews Cineplex, everything went to hell shortly thereafter – at that time they were transitioning I believe from a hybrid of the Star design with more theming to less theming which looks more like the Cineplex Odeon big box style, with Loews Alderwood in WA being the first that comes to mind that was of the Cineplex vintage.

John Fink
John Fink commented about New theatre in Mid-Wilshire in LA!!! on Aug 27, 2010 at 3:53 am

4D Effects?!

What are the auditoriums equipped with? Wind? Fire? D-BOX seats?

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Garden State 16 on Aug 25, 2010 at 3:58 pm

The IMAX here is one of the least immersive and underwhelming I’ve seen. The screen isn’t wall to wall as they’re are two access corridors to the exits behind the screen. They did remove the first two rows and installed a sound system, but Garden State already had large screens, judging by the throw of the room I’m willing to bet the picture isn’t much larger in Theater 2 than it is in 3 and 5, equally as large across the hallway.

To simulate the experience of seeing Hubble 3-D in a “classic” IMAX I decided to sit closer than I normally would – to my astonishment I could see the pixels on screen. I’m not impressed with digital IMAX and would feel even more screwed I think had I paid an upgrade fee for a 2-D feature.

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 – 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 Cinemark University City Penn 6 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:

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).