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Great job, Michael. This is the retrospective worth waiting for as opposed to the one posted several months ago.
My memories of first seeing Empire are on the Cinema (Washington DC) theater page but as I think back, I remember bribing my friends to go by having them help me deliver newspapers on Sunday opening weekend. Remember now that the Sunday edition of the Post is huge with the ad sections and comics. It was nice to have help anyway. Not sure if we took the bus or Mom dropped us off but it was one of several times I saw the movie.
Empire was probably my first movie to be experienced in 70mm. We sat close to the front row to take in the sight and sound. I recall ‘older’ kids (bigger then us) misbehaving by putting their feet on top of the seats in front of them. The usher telling them to “please do not put your feet on the furniture..” and then being ridiculed by the delinquents (furniture?). The soundtrack was mind blowing as when the asteroids would go by there was a loud whooooosh going in different directions depending on where the space objects were going. I remember being very mad at the cliffhanger ending even though I had read the local review that hinted a less then satisfying ending.
Looking back, I enjoy the movie a little more then I did then. Back in those days, there was this Star Wars vs Star Trek debate at school. I was the Trek fan and defended the shows (and first movie) for its cerebral minded storylines and thought Star Wars was just empty popcorn entertainment. At least Trek had some social commentary value that brought on contemporaneous discussions on topics like racism, war, etc. Star Wars was just space battles, fighting and lots of Dolby noise. :) Cool? Kind of..yes.
As my conservative Dad would say, “what did you learn from what you just saw?” In the case of Empire, I learned the bad guy is now the father of one of the good guys. So is good evil? There were some cool effect shots like the aforementioned asteroid belt scenes, the snow battle and for its time, Yoda seemed cool, but he sounded so much like a geriatric muppet Ernie that it was difficult to take him seriously and that he was this all powerful Jedi. Of course, it would be 22 years later that with a little CGI fx magic, we would see him in action to prove his power in Attack of the Clones.
When the remastered trilogy came out in the ‘97 or so, there were many outraged fans. I always thought that this is Lucas’ story. Let the man do what he wants with his creation. If fans don’t like it, let them go make up and put their own creation on the screen. I thought the CGI additions weren’t so bad, they didn’t detract from the story to me. The retinkering for the DVD release is fine, too, with the new Emperor scenes. I never liked the original one and his bulging eye sacs.
When the 3D /Blu ray editions come out, I bet you there will be more tinkering with this movie and the others in the saga……stay tuned.
I tried to catch Shrek 4 in IMAX-lite 3D by sneaking off from work early. I arrived 10 mins late and was just about to enter when….the fire alarm went off. I thought it was a joke and that they would let me in anyway..but NOOOOOOOO. Everybody out! Then the manager said they had to wait for the firemen to come in and inspect the building and shut off the alarm once the building was secured.
At first, rumor had it that some delinquent falsely set off the alarm. Then it was revealed that there may have been a sensor problem and until the cause was known, the shows would be cancelled until further notice. GREEEAAT! I went to CA Tortilla or whatever its called and had a bite to eat and returned to find the crowd gone but the police had arrested a young man. At the emergency exits there were paramedics with a stretcher, no one was in it…were they going in? Or, going out?
Fortunately, the manager said he would call the DC area AMCs to inform them to accept the movie stubs as re-admit tickets. We’ll see.
The Wheaton ‘mall’ was originally Wheaton Plaza, an outdoor shopping center that was eventually ‘enclosed’ in the 80s (?). I do not recall if Montgomery Mall (Bethesda) was a single screen venue.
I was at this mall yesterday (5-18-10) and the theater is closed for renovations.
The status and name should be open as Jack states above as the Montgomery Royal Theater. It is a six screener. The other five theaters are bordered up.
I attended a showing of the disappointing remake of “Death at a Funeral” in number six for about $9.75. The staff are very friendly as I was graciously greeted and thanked for coming! Now what theater actually thanks you for coming to their theater as you are exiting anymore? Presentation left much to be desired. The scratched up picture went off the screen but was loud with no noticeable surrounds despite the presence of speakers throughout. Being an independent theater, I decided to purchase food from the concession stand, which serves your typical movie fare snacks; nachos, popcorn, soda, etc. I got the nachos, which were individually prepared in a tray, not the usual 50c bagged ones you get at BowTie, Regal and AMC.
The place has not changed much since I recall this place opening up as a Roth venue boasting Kintek stereo sound back in ….‘87? I remember seeing “Batteries Not Included” and enjoying the surround effects of the little space ships zooming in front of and around you.
Given the Indian management (maybe ownership) perhaps Bollywood films will get booked here. There is a decent Asian indian populous in Montgomery County and this location would be a good draw for the latest Bollywood releases. Perhaps the concession fare will improve with Indian goodies such as samosas and lassis. While this place is not my first choice for seeing movies, I’ll definitely come back.
100K watts of power? Thats almost 10x as much as the 12K watts of power touted in the IMAX-lite AMC installs. But $18.50 per ticket? It would be worth only if I can use my Costco discounted tickets.
Thanks KB for sharing your memories. ^5.
The problem with intermissions is that you lose that build up to a movie’s climax. LOTR: Return of the King is a prime example. It clocked in over 3 hours, but every minute is part of that journey. I suppose if you HAD to have an intermission, it would be right before Frodo and Gamji enter Mordor.
On the other hand, it would be great for movie theater owners to get in that last extra $ on concession stand fare and for patrons to properly relieve themselves. As long as there isn’t a contractual obligation to NOT having an intermission, I would do it. As a theater owner, I would have most movies with an intermission and RUN an add for the popcorn, soft drink and yogurt bar :P right as the curtain draws to a close..
Its sad to see the review program go, but to be honest, I stopped watching after Roger Ebert left the show a few years back. I never liked Richard Roeper’s reviews or style as he seemed too kvetchy. I also remember when Siskel & Ebert started together on the Sneak Previews program on PBS back in the 70s. It would be great of the reviews from back then could be on YouTube or somewhere else on the net.
It so happens that one of my cars is being fixed nearby the Potomac Mills 18 plex. I’m curious to see how that screen compares to the others. When it is ready next week, I hope to make a trek and see Dragon there maybe.
With regard to Hoffman’s IMAX-lite, maybe Tysons is a tad bit larger. The last IMAX-lite movie I saw there was the boring Night At the Museum 2. That movie was more of a retread of the first one. I wanted to call the new one Flight From This Awful Movie Ad Nauseum :) Sitting in the section that would be called the orchestra section in the olden days, it seemed to me the screen was the same size as the others, or at least as wide, if not as tall. Perhaps someone following this thread and will be able to get their hands on the theater specs.
As I’ve blogged in the news section about the recent (as in TODAY) price increase, its making it less palatable to see movies in this format and pay $16. Just looking at Cinemark’s XD 3D prices, they seem to be holding the line at $14.50. I have yet to experience their XD 3D presentations, but I’m guessing its the same as the IMAX-lite sans the branding. Unless they decide to follow AMC, they may get my business not only for the more reasonable pricing but that its closer to me :)
I noticed this last night on the AMC site. I paid $15 for Alice in Wonderland in IMAX-lite 3D. Today, How to Train Your Dragon in the same format is now, $16. First show matinees were $10, are now $13!! I could see paying $10, maybe $11, but now $13 or $16?????
JJ, I was thinking the same thing with regard to future court action. Lets hope it doesn’t come to that. I’m disappointed that they aren’t showing first run films anymore. In fact, I haven’t been to the Baltimore area for movies probably since ‘08. With the IMAX-lite installs and the Senator’s woes, there was no reason to go up there anymore.
I made a trip to see Alice in Wonderland in IMAX-lite 3D, in Auditorium #3, before it gets replaced by “How to Train Your Dragon.” When films are shown full screen it is quite an experience BUT, again, the $15 full price is hard to swallow for what should be the ‘norm.’ The sight lines are perfect from the aisle level, with peripheral sight just right to avoid head turning. I think the screen size is pretty much the same as Columbia’s and Hoffman’s IMAX-lite installs. Its possible it may be a little larger, or it may be that there are more rows of seats closer to the screen making its largesse illusory. Bass is deep but to me there’s the slight lack of reverberation to give you the spine tingle of the best THX-cert houses.
Also, during the Dragon 3D trailer, it seemed as if the deep bass may have stressed some of the speakers to the point of some crackling. Subjective opinion, yes, which begs a subsequent visit. :)
As far as the film, itself, it was quite good. From the opening strains of Danny Elfman’s music, it had the familiar choral accompaniment to the orchestral score, to the zaniness of Johnny Depp’s and Helena Bonham Carter’s performances, I had a good time. Now to nitpick a little, I had expected better color contrast in the digital format. The wonderland sequences looked fantastic but lacked vibrancy and vividness. Even the opening set up in the current day was Merchant Ivory, yet the costumes and the garden looked….well, dull. I may have to see this in regular digital 3D to compare.
While the action is commendable, how much profit is there in vegetables anyway? Is anyone going to pay the same amount $4 or $5 for a a few carrot sticks vs a tub of popcorn? The same with nachos? The $1 sized packaged nachos they sell for $4 or $5 or more (like at Regal) can’t compete profit wise with vegetables. That $1 sized (at your local 7-Eleven) probably costs half of that or less. I can imagine the conversation at the concession line… “Oh honey, I just have to get my box of brussel sprouts and carrot juice before the movie starts..”
“even larger than KoP’s IMAX?”
KoP’s IMAX is a REAL IMAX screen. Sounds like I need to investigate this for myself….hehehe. :)
I saw Cop Out here in #3. For one of the few THX cert places in this market, they don’t do much to advertise the fact to patrons other than a single poster sheet. The movie was a yawner. The previews and movie had surrounds but were lacking. At least Patti LaBelle singing the closing song during the end credits could’ve played in surround. No THX trailer. The AMC trailer, which I’d like to call the immersion trailer that has an audience member transformed into the film being watched showed off the sound system’s potential but is not a substitute for the THX deep note.
There was a news item in the Washington Business Journal about this opening. Leesburg is about 30 mi or so outside of Tysons, which itself, is suburb of Wash DC. I’d hardly consider Leesburg a suburb given the distance but in any case, the theater plans sound much like National Amusement’s Cinema DeLux. While the DeLux has nice big screens with digital projection, the director’s auditoriums and higher priced seating don’t really appeal and do not exceed the THX cert auditoriums as far as sound and projection go. The description for the new place sounds quite nice if only the ‘restaurant’ area is not your typical mall fare, such as NA’s Cinema DeLux pizza and Nathan hot dog offerings. I’m anxious to check it out once it opens.
When BowTie acquired Crown Theaters, what I heard about some of their newer theaters closer to CT was the BIG SCREEN auditoriums among the usual multiplex mix. Those would’ve great for 70mm if they ever wanted to show them for retrospective bookings. I suspect the trend now with the AMCs and Cinemarks are those IMAX-lite conversions, who can play the 3D releases. In a way, its too bad because those new to the market will associate IMAX with the smaller venues as opposed to the true multistory screen IMAX venues.
I’m near two of BowTie plexes. The Mall one is the better of the two as it has the state-of-the-art sound and projection systems and THX certs in 3 of the 11 auditoriums. The Harbour 9 usually gets the move overs and art house fare. I’m not crazy about the conversion as its still film and is subject to the usual gripes about film in the current state of projection and the scratching and fading from repeated MIS-handling of the format. When they took over from Crown, I was informed they were going all digital at one point. Of course, the economic climate has changed for the worse in the last four years, so a less costly alternative to an upgrade is understandable.
Now all you need is 70mm projection and a 70mm classic film festival to put the Ziegfeld to shame! That would be worth a visit for me. ^5
I never knew that the Layfayette would ever go digital. What kind of system? 2K, 4K? 8K? :D
As a member of their film club, I received an invite for two, to a free screening of ‘Mother’ a Korean film import this past Monday 3/1/10. Due to the fact they sent out more invites than seats, I didn’t get in. The fact is my friend, who works nearby was to get in line early and get the ‘red tickets’ to allow us in. There was this Asian lady, who presumably is a Landmark employee, when I wanted to meet my friend, at the head of the line, bluntly said “its not my problem” and walked off. How rude. She wouldn’t even listen to my story, much less allow me to jump the line.
Since my friend and I did not get into the screening, we paid to see the five short films nominated for Oscar. They were shown in DP in #3, which I believe is my first time in that auditorium, which supposedly has the Sony 4K system. To my eyes, I did not notice any difference with 2K, unless they were shown side by side. Each was shown flat and the DP was sharp and clear, but the transfer of the first Indian film short yielded, maybe intentionally, diagonal lines like an interference line you’d see on your home tv due to an electronic disturbance.
Of the five films, I think Kavi, the Indian film should take Oscar given its world wide subject of slavery, which is a commendable theme. You want to know what happens next to this charming kid, who dreams of becoming a cricket player and going to school, while working with his enslaved parents on a brick farm.
Awesome Giles. Thanks for the info. I may have to make the trek to Tysons even though it is a haul for me in MD. I used to travel to VA, and to the National Amusement Multiplexes; Alexandria, Merrifield and for ONE time Centreville (for the awful movie “Shadow”) when they had 70mm event movies booked. My continual issue with the IMAX-lite screens (Columbia and Hoffman) are the lack of deep bass subwoofer ooomph. Its improved somewhat but its not the same as the best THX cert houses. You can tell what a theater’s sound system is capable of (deep bass) when you can ‘feel’ the power of it when the THX flower trailer is played.
Giles, is the auditorium, at Tysons, larger than the Columbia and Hoffman installs? I remember going into Tysons..I think to the left of the concession stand and to the right was a humongous theater, whose screen seemed as big as the Uptown’s.
Oops. #4 was where we were. The line to get in started at the top of the stairs, which I thought was too many. Fortunately, we all got in and there were about three rows in the front that were unoccupied. The print, itself, had scratches and projected slightly off center to the left. Where I sat and after the first ten minutes, you forgot about the imperfections in the projection.