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Yeah, The Chinese was in pretty big trouble ever since Mann dropped them a few years back. Their bookings were horrible and they were playing to empty houses most of the time. The IMAX conversion (which I view as not that much unlike the Cinemascope conversion in the 50s) allows them update the auditorium again and gain a booking advantage they haven’t had in a while. Without the IMAX, they would never be showing Gravity. They’d be probably be showing week 4 of The Family that weekend.
RobertAlex… Totally agree about 3D in the Dome. I’ve complained multiple times about how terrible their 3D is and I’ve begged them to at least offer 1 or 2 2D showings in there on opening weekends and they steadfastly refuse. So I go to the Village in Westwood for those needs now. They actually listen to customer complaints and alternate 2D and 3D.
But The Chinese NEEDS NEEDS NEEDS to get reserved seating for EVERY show otherwise people will continue to go to Universal City and Rave. I was excited when OZ appeared and had reserved seating, but disappointed that Gravity does not. They need to sort that and quick.
Now we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with Arclight. If they book Gravity as well, they’d be fools to put it in the Dome in 3D. If they don’t book it, they’ll have been a bit cocky booking the companion Children of Men screening before locking the Gravity booking.
You can find it here:
I hope you’re not referring to me when you say someone will always find something to complain about. I’ve been a supporter of this plan since the tour in April pre-closing. I simply pointed out the differences in geometry between 1.43:1 and 1.90:1 and what that might mean in terms of traditional IMAX fare. That was oddly (and incorrectly) seen as bashing The Chinese by some in an argument that grew akin to someone denying it gets dark at night.
I’m excited to see The Chinese soar again and am even more excited by your first hand account. It sounds like they made all the right choices. Now let’s just hope they get all the IMAX bookings they can to keep that place packed week after week.
Thank you Edward, that was the only point I was trying to make with regard to 1.43:1 on the new Chinese screen.
Robert, you are correct. Trek’s IMAX scenes were 1.66:1, still taller than the 1.90:1 ratio of the new digital screens, requiring either cropping top and bottom or pillarboxing on the sides (but in this particular case it was cropped top/bottom for digital). I don’t understand… does something start to burn if you simply say, “that’s correct?”
Sorry all. My frustration grew from the fact that the single and irrefutable fact I was trying to point out (that anything that continued to be shot with IMAX cameras – in the traditional 1.43:1 IMAX ratio – would not be able to be fully presented at the Chinese) was somehow still being refuted and that I was somehow attacking the Chinese and the new screen. I’m excited for the new Chinese and have been saying so since the last Historical Society tour this past April. I was simply pointing out that, while 1.90:1 might be the digital future and the future of IMAX, any IMAX titles, past or future, still shot on film at 1.43 (like Catching Fire or Interstellar) would have to be cropped at the Chinese. Whether that number of films is 20% or .5%, it’s still true. The size of the screen or it’s ranking in the world or whether it’s digital projection or 15/70 is irrelevant. I’m not saying that to bag on the Chinese, I’ve just been trying to point something out for the instances (however rare) it might be relevant.
If that still doesn’t make sense… How about this:
The Chinese Theater screen is fantastic and NOTHING (past or present) EVER will have to be cropped on that screen until the end of time.
That should cover it.
I NEVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT OR THOUGHT THEY WOULD INSTALL A 15/70 PROJECTOR!!!!
Robert, just answer this… Is the screen at the Chinese a full, traditional IMAX screen? Yes or No?
How can you say, “here’s how it’s open to debate” and then go on to reaffirm all the points I just made? I’ve NEVER said the new Chinese screen won’t be great or appropriate for most of the IMAX titles released, just that it’s not a traditional IMAX screen and couldn’t show native IMAX without cropping picture information. You yourself call it “a step between the dreaded “LieMax” label and the true blue 15/70 6 story tall screens we all know and love.” So you’re basically confirming what I said that it’s not a true blue traditional IMAX screen. And given that we now know JJ is shooting Episode VII on film, do you really think he’s not going to shoot 15/70 IMAX as well? (whether it shows at The Chinese or the El Cap will remain to be seen).
Is it a “true blue 15/70 6 story IMAX screen?” No. Can it show films shot with IMAX cameras in the camera’s native ratio without cropping? No. What the new screen REALLY is, is a really large traditional “flat” screen with top/bottom masking. LA Live’s Premiere Theater is 38x70 with top/bottom masking. Should we call that an IMAX because it’s as big if not bigger than many of the “LieMax” retrofits?
Robert, none of your links talk about reducing the ratio of IMAX from 1.43:1 to 1.9:1. It’s just about converting to digital, which as Chris points out, “allegedly, can be projected to fill the entire IMAX screen (so I read).” When Chris says that, do you think he’s talking about the projectors FINALLY being able to fill the whole 1.90:1 screen, because they can do that now. I don’t know how I can make the point any clearer.
My original statement was only that, with an advertised width of 90ft, a traditional IMAX screen would have to be about 65 feet high and I didn’t see how that was possible at The Chinese. Turns out, I was right.
It’s actually IMAX that determines that. It’s the native ratio for IMAX cameras (1.43:1). With digital and IMAX DMR, the options for ratios are nearly endless, but the FACT (yes, FACT) still remains that the new 1.90:1 screen at The Chinese, while certainly suitable for the vast majority of IMAX presentations and clearly the new standard as we move into a totally digital age (they call it IMAX 1.9:1), isn’t capable of displaying ALL IMAX movies correctly. Unless they’re planning to pillarbox natively shot IMAX with bars on the side, full 1.43:1 IMAX photography (either of the newly shot or revival variety) will be cropped top and bottom. It is not a full, traditional IMAX screen, it’s a new, digital friendly IMAX screen. How is this even open to debate?
My point was simply that The Chinese doesn’t HAVE an entire IMAX screen. I’m not bashing The Chinese, merely pointing out that (until they also do away with SHOOTING on IMAX film) the new screen will be a compromise for certain films. Christopher Nolan has just started shooting Interstellar using IMAX cameras. If/when Interstellar shows at the Chinese… it will most likely be cropped for their new screen. It won’t be cropped on traditional IMAX screens. When Catching Fire comes out later this year, the IMAX portions will also be cropped (much like they are for a Blu-ray) if shown at The Chinese. I’m not complaining, just offering observations and math. I didn’t realize that was controversial.
Well, Universal City is not projecting EVERYTHING in digital. Star Trek into Darkness was 15/70, as was Pacific Rim. While Pacific Rim was close to 1.90:1 (due to Del Toro shooting 1.85:1 anyway), Trek certainly was not. And I saw Dark Knight Rises full 15/70 1.44 there as well. So, as I said, MOST things will be an improvement when shown at the new Chinese, but not everything will. But I was happy to hear that they’ll have adjustable masking to show things in more traditional ratios.
Well that answers my question about how you were going to fit an IMAX screen in there. You don’t. 47.2x90 means the screen is pretty much 1.90:1. Noooooooooooot exactly IMAX. The Universal City IMAX is (by their own website) 7 stories tall (which translates to about 70 or so feet high and 50 or so feet wide (at the correct IMAX 1.4:1 ratio). So the Chinese will be 80% wider but only about 70% as tall. So for the majority of Hollywood product converted to IMAX, the Chinese will be better. For true IMAX stuff like Dark Knight or Catching Fire… Not so much. The other sad thing will be that the Chinese will now essentially be a top/bottom masking theater for films presented in 2.4:1.
The Village is actually bucking the trend and showing Man of Steel in 2D for their first midnight show (Thursday night, June 13). Support some 2D and let’s fill the Village like the good old days.
I wish there were still ANY drive-ins in the San Fernando Valley (I was a teen in the 80s growing up with the Winnetka 6 in Chatsworth). I would love to venture out to the Mission Tiki, but it’s an hour drive from our home in Woodland Hills. Maybe someday.
‘Classics in the Dome’ begins 5/3:
5/3, Friday Jaws
5/3, Friday 2001: A Space Odyssey
5/4, Saturday The Red Shoes
5/4, Saturday On the Waterfront
5/5, Sunday Lawrence of Arabia
5/5, Sunday Vertigo
5/6, Monday Dr. Strangelove
5/7, Tuesday Cool Hand Luke
No doubt all digital, but Lawrence should be 4K. Unfortunately, the CapeTown festival is that weekend, so it’s a no go for some.
Alright, went to the LAHTF tour of the Chinese this morning and got some info that may or may not be of comfort to people. I got a moment to talk to one the main presenters (not a tour guide, but one of the guys who seemed to be working with the new managers on the retrofit) and asked him a few questions. Now, again, these answers don’t come from the source, but they come from a source WORKING with the source.
First, I asked about the curtain and he seemed to think (as did a few people there) that they would be replicating the Chinese’s curtain, only longer to cover the full IMAX height (as can be seen in the Curbed LA link Chris posted above). I asked if they would also be including top and bottom masking so that they could bring the screen ratio back to a normal scope ratio when not showing IMAX (or when simply showing 2.40:1 in the IMAX frame, ala Trek ‘08). He was less sure about that, but still seemed more positive than not.
With regard to the bookings… IMAX will be booking this theater directly. Basically… if it opens in IMAX, it opens at the Chinese. It certainly appears that the Chinese is going to co-book with Arclight for most movies (and maybe the El Capitan). I look at this as potentially great news because it’s going to force the Arclight to stop all the 3D in the Dome non-sense. I can’t imagine most people willing to sit through mediocre 3D in the Dome when far superior 3D on a bigger screen is going to be just a few minutes down the street. If given the choice between 3D IMAX or 2D Dome, I’ll take 2D Dome. I hope this forces that option.
As for the renovation, I’m kind of OK with it for a few reasons. A) The Chinese has always been a theater to keep up with film as it evolved. In 1958 they destroyed the proscenium and widened the screen to 92' for Windjammer and that’s about the width we’ve been accustomed to with modern widescreen movies (actually 35mm and 70mm was usually closer to 75/85'‘ wide if the numbers I found are correct). This is no different except they’re going 'down’ instead of ‘across’ this time. B) They’re not going to be disturbing any of the walls/ceiling/ornamentation (quite the opposite… they’re actually fixing things that have been neglected for years) and C) the slope of the auditorium is not going to be nearly as drastic (and “stadium-y” as I once believed it would. Basically they are going to go down about 10/12' into the basement and bring the back of the auditorium back up to the lobby level. It’s going to be much more gradual than a traditional IMAX theater. It seems like the screen is actually going to have a ratio of approximately 2:1. Not the super tall 1.4:1 that Universal and The Rave have. I could be wrong about that, but with a screen 95' wide and only going down another 10/12', it’s going to make the screen height about 45/50'. And while they’re taking out all of the old seats (which need it) they’re even exploring finding high back chairs that look the same.
Overall, would I rather have the Chinese of my youth when it was THE most happening theater in world and could consistently draw the big crowds with the latest and greatest blockbusters? Sure, but just as television put the hurt on them and forced them to adapt to widescreen to survive and thrive… so it seems that the multiplex has nearly choked the life out of it again and without the IMAX conversion, the Chinese would be in danger of becoming the world’s most famous looking office building. The good news is that the surgery to save her this time is minor and mostly plastic.
I took a bunch of pics throughout the tour, if you’d like to see what she still looks like for another 10 days, be my guest:
I know it’s blasphemous, but I’m not HATIN' it so far.
I think the booking rules are going to be to one of the biggest questions that needs to be answered. Don’t forget… even with the IMAX overhaul, the Chinese still has the same problem that got them into a competitive disadvantage. Outside of the main screen, they just don’t have the seat count to compete with Arclight. Arclight can open a summer tentpole in the Dome (and 3 other screens) and then move that Dome show out the next week to replace it with something else. It’s like a funnel over there and there are 15 screens that make up that funnel. By the time ‘42’ leaves there in about 4 weeks it’ll have probably seen 5 different sized theaters from about 1000 seats total first week to about 70/80 in week 4. The Chinese doesn’t have that funnel. They still won’t have the move-over screens to ensure they get every big movie.
I think the only way this works (and in an ideal world, this is the way to do it) is the Chinese is able to book “IMAX Experience” films independent of the Arclight and El Capitan. I made the point last week that I think there’s a strong case to be made that the “IMAX Experience” versions are like totally different films because they aren’t something that Arclight or El Capitan can show. They’re always listed differently on Fandango, Movie Tickets.com, and are listed separately with AMC and Regal Theaters. Arclight and El Capitan can still book the standard versions and the Chinese 6 would compete for those films as well. But most IMAX runs are only for a week or two anyway and it isn’t like the IMAX version gets ‘moved-over’ to a smaller theater or nearby IMAX when a new IMAX Experience opens. They all show Jurassic for 2 weeks, then get rid of it for Oblivion (which will play for 2 weeks) until Iron Man 3 on May 3rd plays for 2 weeks before Star Trek moves in where it’ll only get a week before Fast and Furious 6 on May 24th. This is pretty standard across all multiplex IMAX.
IF Arclight and the Chinese are allowed to co-book IMAX versus standard, this could have a really great side effect (if Arclight is smart). I’m someone who is pretty averse to 3D. I think it’s a FAR bigger distraction than it is an immersion. The thing that REALLY irritates me with 3D is the way the chains have been using their biggest and best theaters to pimp 3D at the exclusion of those who don’t want or can’t enjoy 3D. Want to see Star Trek in the Dome… better like 3D. Add to that that the Dome 3D is probably the worst in the country and it becomes infuriating that one of my favorite theaters is totally off limits unless I want to A) put up with 3D and B) put up with AWFUL 3D. BUT… If the Chinese is getting Amazing Spider-Man 2 in IMAX 3D and Arclight is getting it in standard, Arclight would be IDIOTS to try and pit the Dome 3D against IMAX 3D just a few blocks away. It may actually force them to try and regain a bit of their dignity and position themselves as the “best place to see these blockbusters in 2D,” which is something people have been complaining and begging for, only to have Arclight turn a deaf ear. In short… it may force Arclight to actually have to try and care again.
Zuni, the 1,162 seating capacity is what is listed right here on this page.
RogerA, I also read that they are planning to show occasional Chinese films (to tie the theater to it’s “sponsor” and also play off the Chinese name), so that suggests to me that they plan on showing not just IMAX stuff. But my jaw would drop if they didn’t show both Catching Fire AND The Hobbit in IMAX this Thanksgiving/Christmas.
The more I’ve thought about it, the more curious I am about the potential upsides.
First off, Zubi… to be fair, the current seating in Grauman’s is actually 1,162, so a new seat count of 986 isn’t exactly a major slash in seats.
But the truth is that the Chinese is dying. They can no longer book the “A” titles and when they do, they’re stuck playing it for so long that they’re a ghost town for weeks at a time (The Hobbit is a good example). They need some way to bring in titles again and fill seats, otherwise it WILL turn into a dance club. And let’s be honest… this ISN’T the first time the Chinese has been renovated to increase the screen size. It’s just the first time most of us can remember and instead of going horizontal, this time it’s going vertical. I would love to see them use some top/bottom masking so that when they aren’t showing in full IMAX, they can return to the screen shape they’ve always had. Don’t know if that’s possible.
The real question is going to be whether or not the studios are going to consider “The IMAX Experience” films to be different than the standard DCP/3D/35mm engagements. If they do (and I don’t see a reason they can’t) that would mean that the Chinese can book films simultaneously with the Arclight and even the El Capitan. Just imagine the Dome playing something like Man of Steel in standard 4k and (god help us) their patented god-awful 3D, while a few blocks away the Chinese is playing Man of Steel: An IMAX 3D Experience (even though I know the new Chinese won’t be re-opened by June for MOS). Will the studios allow the IMAX version to play at the Chinese at the same time as the standard version at the Dome? Technically it’s not a movie the Dome can play, so you’re not double booking in the same territory. Now Pacific is absolutely not going to want this to happen and is going to fight it, but it could make things interesting and Arclight might actually have to step it up again in the presentation department. I feel they’ve gotten waaaaayyy too complacent, especially after losing what competition the Chinese used to offer when still a Mann theater.
Add in some reserved seating and I’m certainly game to check it out. Would probably beat going to Universal City or The Rave.
The big question is… HOW? They’re saying the 3rd largest screen IMAX has. How is that possible unless they dig and go underground? What kind of destruction will that cause? Most of me is mortified, but part of me is very curious.
That’s probably very true Michael. I think most balconies are closed during slow periods/showtimes. It keeps the theater staff from having to clean the theater between shows on 2 different levels when attendance is low and staffing light.
It’s amazing to me that we spent the last 25 or so years destroying all of these majestic, giant screen palaces only to now see all of the chains trying to rebuild and rebrand new giant screens (RPX, EXT, XD) to get audiences back. Did we tear down all these amazing houses only to see them rebuilt, but not quite as well?
Yeah, the balcony remained opened (at least for big movies) to the end. I sat up there only once, for Die Hard 2 in July 1990. I worked for United Artists late 80s/early 90s and we had a couple company meetings at the Cooper. Was lucky enough to see early screenings of Total Recall (which never actually played at the Cooper, it opened at the Continental) and Black Rain. First trip to the Cooper was Return of the Jedi in ‘83. Quite an experience for a 12 year old. It was a gem of a theater and a crime that it’s gone.
Aliens in the Dome last night was fantastic!! Looked and sounded tremendous and the theater was just about at capacity. Batman and Back to the Future are getting similarly full. Hopefully these packed screenings remind Arclight/Pacific that the Dome has value beyond being a 3D dump bin.
The great thing about the Chinese is that they don’t NEED stadium seating. The screen is big enough that you rarely, if ever, have someone blocking you. This whole thing smells like a disaster. And yeah, the name will certainly go back to Grauman’s Chinese at some point, but the bigger question is… what about the actual theater (especially if they’re doing a remodel). After all, would we want the kind of seating that is now at the Egyptian?