Comments from John Fink

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John Fink
John Fink commented about Showcase Cinemas East Windsor on Feb 28, 2008 at 1:36 am

The closure on March 2 has been confirmed by the Hartford Courant – the theater which opened in 1994 had since been updated with stadium seating. It was a very nice operation. It’s roughly the same layout as Berlin which upgraded its snack bar to offer an expanded menu a few years ago. This one was the of the traditional popcorn/candy concession variety. The theater consisted of two big theaters on opposite ends, next to those medium sized theaters, and sandwiched in between those 8 smallish theaters (150 seats or so). The retrofit was nice, and the screens were a really great size, and the theater was well kept. National never ran their theaters into the ground, and this was a first class operation.

They are shifting their focus on the Cinema De Lux/Showcase in Buckland and Enfield I suppose, although in my experience Enfield didn’t draw huge crowds either – perhaps they are consolidating the audience as the two were close together. As Tomas Kent points out they may consider making Enfield a Cinema De Lux – which I’m quite surprised they haven’t done in West Springfield – all they need to complete that is a Chatters and a director’s hall or two. My guess is they are waiting to gauge the reaction to the Lux Level concept before they move ahead with any upgrade. Enfield thought doesn’t seem like an upscale enough place to do it though – just judging by the stores in the mall. West Springfield though is a cinema with an interesting history with a strong culture of dedicated showcase moviegoers.

John Fink
John Fink commented about New Theater Editing Policy on Feb 12, 2008 at 11:58 pm

I’m glad to see a policy put in place, I do wish there was additional rules for posting comments. Often you’ll see too much repetition that doesn’t contribute to the overall knowledge base. On one hand I’m interested in reading about a theater’s history, further plans, crazy/memberable experiences and over all quality.

While on the other hand rants over cinemas not adopting DPL projectors or not programing certain films, as some members choose to write about have made certain threads painful to read. I’m glad the site has remained “open” – open access is a good thing, while other sites are highly moderated for a professional audience (Film Tech), however I do think a general guideline should be drafted for member comments, firmly stating the mission of Cinema Treasures. Regardless, as a fan of the site I do realize resources are too limited to moderate each and every post for usage and I’m glad to see steps are being taken to enhance the consistency of information. Also, I think where applicable information provided by a member should accompany a citation, either credited to a staff member at a given theater or a news article. Too often roomer and speculation is inaccurate and clouds actual facts leading to misinformation, I have found myself frustrated with information provided by members.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Loews Wayne 14 on Feb 10, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Where did you hear of these plans?

John Fink
John Fink commented about Pohatcong Cinema 12 on Jan 30, 2008 at 9:16 pm

To revise what I had written early, there is no evidence of it but the layout and the mix of stadium and slope flooring leads me to believe that it was a site Magic Cinemas might had developed as well. I’ve just read Magic Cinemas developed Regal Bergen Plaza/Cineplaza (now the ghetto retailer Forman Mills) in North Bergen.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Rockaway 16 on Jan 19, 2008 at 8:40 am

The golden age of movie going has been over for a long long time – the ending was signaled long before AMC Rockaway was on the drawing board, just look at the original AMC Rockaway shoeboxes designed not to be too distinctive so that they can be easily converted to retail. Unfortunately we don’t have many chains around that are doing things differently like the excellent The Bridge in Philly.

As for digital I-Max, Justin you’ve driven the point home about digital – and my guess is this site won’t see a non-IMax 4K digital projector until the collation lead of AMC, Regal and Cinemark, headed by former Loews chairman Travis Reid can figure out the financing terms for the new equipment (which from what I heard involves taking out a loan backed by the future savings to the studios). The last few AMC sites to open have been all digital – not a good thing – why would you want film projection to die? Early adopters that have gone all or nearly all digital (Carmike, Rave, and a few smaller chains) have opted to go 2K verses 4K – and 2K looks artificial, like watching an HD TV, I don’t think its particularly a good thing and there are some filmmakers I wouldn’t like to see in digital projection (Guy Madden comes to mind first).

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Westwood Town Center Cinema on Jan 18, 2008 at 7:12 pm

Defiantly a General Cinema site from the cinema tour pics.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Showcase Cinemas East Hartford on Jan 1, 2008 at 11:28 am

Cinema City allegedly is getting a remodel by its new owners who are (shockingly) keeping it open for art films. Criterion’s programing mirrors that of the Palace, with a few exceptions (No County for Old Men, Before the Devil Knows Your Dead). I’m just glad to see Bow Tie isn’t veering into Real Art Ways territory. I suppose with 14-screens gone here and 8 in Bloomfield shut down for a few years now they figure the area can support 8 additional screens (2 additional ones at Buckland and 6 at Criterion). East Hartford was great, when the show was sold out at Buckland or the Palace, this was the place to go, and it was well maintained right up to its closing for the most part. I used to go here just for the retro feel of the place, it was like going to the movies in the 70’s/80’s, reminded me of going to General Cinema when I was growing up.

Back to Tom’s point, National upgrade a similar style of theater in Seekonk, MA (Seekonk 1-10) with stadium seating, its a little odd give the lack of riser’s height (think of the smaller theaters at Buckland) and the long narrow style of the theaters (or at least the one I was in in Seekonk), they also upgraded the color scheme to the blue and teal of Showcase/Mulitplex sites circa 1997-2002, it was like someone combined Buckland’s wall treatments, stadiums eating and lobby pre it’s Cinema De Lux upgrade with East Hartford’s lay out – with a much smaller square lobby).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Regal Union Square Stadium 14 on Jan 1, 2008 at 11:12 am

Off the top my head movietickets.com does it for certain theaters (IFC Center) and I think Film Forum lists what shows in what theater, but there is no online source to the best of my knowledge and I really do wish their was – especially for Union Square. However, I don’t think would theaters want that out there (unless they are advertising its on a “Super Screen” “I-Max” or in “DLP Digital Cinema”) – its like a bait and switch. Sometimes you can figure it out if you call the theater and get their recorded show time line, but too often those lines refer you into a central call center which sucks because I’ve had an experience where a theater chain has made a data entry error and the wrong film was reported online, to the papers and on the theater’s voice recording. The result, I showed up to an AMC in New Jersey to see Idiocracy only to be told I had been sold a ticket through movietickets.com for Jackass (even though I had my confirmation stating I had 2 adult tickets for Idiocracy). There is a world of difference there, I wouldn’t trust such a listing if it existed, sorry because theater size changes at some locations daily and by showtime, and even at the last minute. You know who would have this information, the movietickets.com and the fandangos that offer the ability to print your tickets at home, I wish they’d offer that up without having to drop $12 and a service fee per ticket.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Palace 17 and Odyssey Theater on Dec 30, 2007 at 9:57 am

Not only the average Joe but the average film student at UHa, I doubt that was they were the problem. If anything you’ll have to start selling drugs on the side to afford the $11 Odyssey admission price and snacks. So I guess according to Joe they’ve added proper masking in the Odyssey, which like the I-Max at Buckland used to project things on the very large screen and it would be like watching a letter box movie on your TV. It the proper ratio but it only fills up part of the screen. Now if they were to convert it to a full I-Max (they used to show “enhanced 35MM prints” with more detail for the larger screen) they could compete with Buckland since I’m sure their screen is larger than the mini-I-Max there (I even argued to National Amusements that I bet the screens 7 and 8 at the Showcase West Springfield were larger than Buckland’s I-Max).

I knew the theater was on the verge of being sold when the operations improved and the prices was lowered, in its final months as Crown the place was spotless (I really haven’t been there much since the Bow Tie take over but things there seem to be the same and I’m glad to hear they have plans to improve Cinema City which I don’t think has ever been improved since it opened 40 years ago). But now with East Hartford out of the picture (also old, but very well run) and Bloomfield, it does make sense to me that they can play films day and date with Criterion and still keep Cinema City open, all without veering into Real Art Ways' type of film.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Palace 17 and Odyssey Theater on Dec 12, 2007 at 7:25 am

I guess Bow Tie is trying to more upscale movie goers to the Criterion. R.A.W. is a great venue, always sharp picture, well run, great concession stand and just overall a great scene. The Showcase/Cinema De Lux Buckland is nice too, even before the construction that was my top choice, I went to the Crown Palace back in the day during “movie madness” where on weekdays students could see movies for $4 – with prices that low there was no reason to stay on campus and rent DVDs. (I also had a RAW membership and saw films for $4.50). I’m shocked they removed security from the Palace, often they were good to report distractions to (sometimes they were the distraction, the Hartford PD was standing in a theater with their radio on during a showing of A History of Violence, I complained to the manager who took care of it – the lack of common sense by hired security astounds me sometimes).

I’m guessing they keep the Criterion in top shape with security in the complex. But even before the security pulled out I remember being warned when I first moved to Hartford that “the Palace was ghetto, its no uncommon to witness a fight or a distraction or whatever” – this complex was part of Crown Theaters' strategy a few years ago and the 7PM block on Saturday nights seems to be popular (often they have 17 screens starting within an hour of each other, a fact I pointed out when a box office line in January stretched out the door to the manager who instead of understanding my point was proud they had 17 films all starting within an hour including Saw on three screens, 20 minutes apart). This was always a strange multiplex and for the record, I always avoided the digital projection and the Odessy (big screen) theater – the film takes up half the screen and even in the last row you had to crane your neck. I understand they now charge more for that experience, what a shame, maybe Bow Tie will get one of those new digital I-Max systems to compete with the tiny I-Max and Real D system at Buckland.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Loews Palisades Center 21 on Dec 4, 2007 at 9:51 pm

It’s gotten slightly better since the AMC take over, but its still dirty, and its showing its age (they have been improving it a bit though). Still, the theaters are tiny, 7 has 50 seats (I have been in smaller though). It’s an odd theater yet it still draws crowds (the Theatery section of the mall, the 4th floor is like Times Square on a Saturday night, impossible to walk through). They have reduced their snack offerings though (the AMC theory is that since they allow you to bring in your own food….. – personally I look forward to importing Jamba Juice with my popcorn).

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Rockaway 16 on Dec 1, 2007 at 10:28 am

He has a point: early digital was awful – it sucked the life out of the movie (when I had been going to see movies at the what was Crown Palace in Hartford I always bought tickets to the non-digital show – but this was years ago). I’ve seen improvements, last time I was in Hartford, Showcase/Cinema De Lux Buckland Hills has a digital package from Dolby that’s really great and really sharp (but that theater always had pretty flawless projection). AMC Rockaway doesn’t have great projection, in fact I avoid it for that fact – digital might save it as the systems become more sophisticated. I saw Beowulf at Garden State and thought the presentation was great, they seem to jack-up the brightness to compensate for the polarization.

John Fink
John Fink commented about BEOWULF 3-D Locations on Nov 24, 2007 at 11:28 am

In West Nyack, NY – the AMC Loews 21 and the I-Max theater (operated by I-Max and not AMC) are two separate theaters – both on the forth floor of the mall. Thanks for the list, I saw it at Garden State Plaza in Real-D 3-D and thought it was well done – the action was so good and uncompromising I was engaged without the 3-D. It’s a fun movie.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Scotiabank Theatre Toronto on Nov 8, 2007 at 7:26 am

See, I saw this theater during the Toronto Film Festival this year and enjoyed it – yes the stairs are too slippery and if you’re in one of the big four theaters you have to then walk up to the (5th? floor) for the bathrooms. As far as I’m concerned in America we’re just catching up to what Famous Players and Cineplex did – the theaters have full food courts, including an expresso bar, smoothie bar and a real bar. (The Cineplex Oden Varsity also has a small bar as well in its VIP section – nice to see the Cineplex Oden name again and not a AMC Cineplex Oden like we have here in the USA).

I liked this theater a lot, it’s in a pretty cool neighborhood full of places to eat and clubs (I can see how that can be obnoxious if you’re just heading down there for a quick movie). I saw it during the festival so I was with the type of audience that maybe doesn’t frequent the Scotibank (all the locals told me they HATE this theater and were in mourning over the Famous Players Uptown). But I liked it, especially during the festival: you can see three movies in a row and not have to leave the theater for breakfast and lunch. I know its not a “Cinema Treasure” but its a decent big, ol' multiplex. Better than the cinemas Regal and AMC build in the US and the inspiration (along with the VIP section at the Varsity) for Cinema De Lux. Canada was ahead of the curve on that one.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Kinnelon 8 on Aug 20, 2007 at 8:06 pm

This guy is 100% right. I only go here when I have nothing better to do and lately I’ve been avoiding it. The experience in that review mirrors my last visit, to see Joshua – which was poorly projected leaving a lopsided view. I told the ticket taker who had told me they’d look in to it, about an hour later I went to the bathroom and told another kid, this time “fix it or I’m getting my money back and going to see this thing at a real movie theater” – not the first time this has happened. The manager doesn’t get it: when your up against home video, especially in an affluent area like Kinnelon what is the incentive to come to the cinema when people around can afford to build high end theaters? Both theaters are constant let downs with poor projection and a staff who doesn’t care lead by a manager who clearly can’t lead and motivate his staff. As you can guess from my posts I’ve been to many movies and many theaters and can tell you Clearview on a whole went from being a poorly run chain of small theaters to becoming higher end (see the renovations at the Clairidige and Cinema 12 as well as the new complex at SOPAC). I keep hoping that with the construction boom along Route 23 in Riverdale and Butler that a real movie theater – preferably a Cinema De Lux or one of those new AMC builds will come to town. The projection, comfort, and customer service standards here aren’t even on a par with the worst the discount houses I’ve been to, despite Clearview’s $9.75-ticket price!

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Loews Wayne 14 on Aug 15, 2007 at 7:23 pm

Where is has it been made known at the Clearview Wayne Preakness Quad will be closing in the near future? While their projection is poor (no screen masking as of my last visit about a year ago) it’s a comparatively more upscale venue than the riff raff you get over at AMC Loews Wayne (which employees Wayne PD for its security services and has a decal on the door stating “No Weapons Allowed On the Premises”. Needless to say neither theaters in Wayne offer a high quality movie going experience, but from what I understand both theaters perform well.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Bow Tie Cinemas acquires 95 screens from Crown Theatres on Jun 23, 2007 at 7:55 am

It’s one thing to have high ticket prices at a luxury theater, but the Palace, which charges roughly the same now as Showcase Cinemas/Cinema De Lux 18: Buckland Hills (10.00) isn’t nearly as good, and Hartford isn’t Manhattan, it’s a shock, Crown’s attendance probably was inflated due to “Crown Movie Madness” – as a student I used to pay $4.00 at all times during the week and $5 on the weekends, there was no reason to stay in and rent a DVD. I have been to the palace once since and nothing has changed, the staff wears purple “Bow Tie Cinemas” polo shirts, that was it. Then there is the matter of Cinema City? Has it changed. Will it close when Criterion Cinemas opens at Blue Back Square? Criterion Cinemas will be the real deal – but I hope they don’t start taking bookings from RAW, which is still the best theater in the area in terms of programing, projection, snacks and over all atmosphere!

John Fink
John Fink commented about Magnolia Theater on Jun 9, 2007 at 10:08 am

Did this one open as a Landmark Theater, or had it been run indpendently by Cuban and his Magolia Pictures distributor before he aquired Landmark Theaters?

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Loews Paramus Route 4 Tenplex on May 29, 2007 at 2:30 pm

AMC will never reopen the tenplex – it will just never happen, unless this thing becomes part of a larger project (such as the redevolopment of the Bergen Mall). Secondly, as much as I liked the Tenplex back in the Cineplex Oden days (I never visted in the RKO days) – the new theater is pretty good – one of the best multiplexes around in terms of screen size and comfort. It’s an improvement over the current state of the Tenplex. Although I think it’s location will bring in more kids with “nothing better to do” which is never good (look at the morons walking around GSP with their cell phones and imagine them in a cinema)

With that said, I think Paramus could support an art theater. 10 screens is maybe about 5 or 6 too many for an art theater (given these large theaters) so I think if the original 5 were some how saved, including Theater 1 and the remander of the building featured a bar, a cafe, or some additional venue with live performance, and maybe an art gallery – that would be the way to go. In fact thats something Paramus should look in to, aquiring the building as an art theater/alternative space – almost like SOPAC in South Orange or Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT. AMC has no interest in this kind of thing, as nice as the new 16-plex is they lack the inovation to offer these kinds of ammenities. Someone like National Amusements (which has the best theater in the county – Edgewater Multiplex, which has a decent track record of showing indie films – I saw Y Tu Mama Tombien, The Host, Notes on a Scandal, Waitress, and several other indies there) might collaberate with a non for profit on this type of center. But look at the new upscale plexes that AMC has opened, none of have lounges with full kitchens in them like National’s Cinema De Lux sites do. Regal and AMC aren’t interested in this sort of business model whereas National, Marcus Theaters, Landmark, Mann Theaters, and Muvico are looking on ways to drag people out of the house by making movie going a high end experience. That’s the way to save the tenplex, completly set it apart from the sixteen at GSP.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Garden State 16 on May 25, 2007 at 8:43 pm

One of the better multiplexes around – the lobby is large, more of an AMC style interior design than Rockaway (they had the AMC murals, carpeted lobby, and LED displays). They also had a seating area with couches that reminded me of Cinema De Lux.

In the theater the seats were wide and comfortable (AMC style, as well) with two theateres to the left of the snackbar (1 & 2) and 3-16 to the right (which streaches back into the mall). The screens were large (like Rockaway) – while I will always treasure the ten plex and am pissed its gone, I have to say this wasn’t bad, in fact its on a par with Edgewater Multiplex. The thing that I dislike though is the amount of teens on cell phones – what is obnoxious in the mall will unfortuantly extend to the cinema and become a major distraction. Whereas there was some distance between the mall and the tenplex, bored mall shoppers will wonder in to a picture looking for “something to do”. Tonight’s screening of Bug (which was very intense and well acted, but in parts slow) was met with walk outs, cell phone calls, and other distractions. I look foward to this place when summer movie season ends and hopefully they show an indie flick or two when they’re done with Spiderman on 3 screens.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Loews Paramus Route 4 Tenplex on May 24, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Circa the LCE take over of Cineplex. LCE really ran the place in to the ground, yes, they replaced the seats but beyond that and the hot foods they really didn’t make much of an improvement. I miss how great things were back in the Cineplex Oden days. I just got back from the theater myself – there were many folks snapping shots. Employees wore various uniforms ranging from AMC to Loews Cineplex to even one in a Cineplex Oden uniform. The manager’s desk still had the uniforms up, as I had discussed in my posting from Saturday and they had photos out of the main theater when it had been whole, as well as the lobby. The Record’s print additional from last Saturday also had some great photos from “back in the day” including some from its period as a Sevenplex.

I saw Pirates at 8AM, in theater one, with a sold out crowd. (They also showed an 8:01PM show interlocked in 6 and 7). An employee (in an LCE shirt) announced that “this will be the last public showing in theater one, we’d like to thank you for coming, no matter how long you’ve been coming here – one year, five years, ten years, all 42 years, thank you”. Some even were crying when the last show let out. This theater will be greatly missed, most were unaware it was even closing in the community. I see why, for 42-years its served the community through technological and social changes. This is a true cinema treasure and I’ll miss it – however, for a new generation the 16-screen theater will be their venue of choice, and despite the fact I’m not a fan of the Loews design, I hope they great moments to remember in it.

On a side note: anybody see Good Bye, Dragon Inn – it’s a really wonderful movie from Taiwan about a movie theater show its final film. I started thinking about it again for two reasons: I saw Ming-liang Tsai’s new movie I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, and because it reminded me a bit of tonight at the Tenplex.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Loews Paramus Route 4 Tenplex on May 23, 2007 at 5:21 pm

If Clearview or another chain renovated this place, it might get “B” grade first run product – there are many films currently out that will not be showing at the AMC Garden State 16. I point you to Danvers, MA – where Loews constructed a 20-screen theater, closing a 7 screen theater. The 7-screen is run by another opperator and shows (currently) first run art house films with some first run studio product (Georgia Rule is playing), while the AMC Loews Liberty Tree shows Spider-Man, Pirates, and the like. 26 screens in one booking terratory is not unheard of, it is however uncommon. Paramus should have a first run art house, Montclair’s offerings lately have tended to be “too safe” – perhaps if this is slated to be intergrated in to Bergen Mall’s renovation part of this theater can be saved (say the old RKO house, especially screen one) and transformed in to an 5 screen upscale art house. I think Paramus/Bergen County could support another theater geered towards a high end crowd.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Showcase Cinemas Seekonk 1-10 on May 19, 2007 at 11:11 am

The theater reminded me of East Hartford (the screen I was in was long and narrow) – they had repainted and redone it all to look like a newer National house with re-appointed theaters, unfortuantly due to the lenght the stadium seating didn’t achieve the height of the other Seekonk theater). The lobby was simular to the rectangular National Design circa the 70’s/80’s. The theater is well run, clean and I sensed the it had a loyal local following and I assume does well as booth Seekonk Showcase Cinemas still have midnight shows.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Loews Paramus Route 4 Tenplex on May 19, 2007 at 7:39 am

Thats very interesting – I’m also not looking foward to the new AMC, I wish they spent time on this theater, remodeling and fixing it. The theater still did pretty well from what I gather. My favorite memory is seeing Borat in Theater #1, the late show, opening night – that huge theater was sold out. In its later years the theater has showen its age, especially the last few years when they had been planning for the new complex. I’m also shocked that Paramus, the shopping capital of the country, at the top mall in the town can’t support something more luxerious than an AMC. If any region in the country deserves a high end luxery theater with leather reserved seats and the like, shouldn’t it be Bergen County?

The design of the auditriums will simular to Rockaway I’m sure, which is decent but ultomatly not satisfying – I actually found in Morris County I prefer Cinema 12 to the new Rockaway theater as Clearview has beefed up its opperations in responce to the threat, adding better seats and being more careful with their projection (Cinema 12 also has digital projection). AMC really hasn’t done much to any of the Loews theaters it’s aquired, although they added a “no weppons permitted” sign at AMC Loews Wayne. They did re-do the Cineplex at Universal City Walk in LA – perhaps intend on moving foward and will eventually rebrand and improve the former Loews Cineplex sites. Or shut them down….

Regardsless, I’ll miss the Route 4 Tenplex and I’ll only go to the new place late on weekdays and on Sundays where, hopefully, parking won’t be that obnoxious.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Abby Cinemas on May 19, 2007 at 7:28 am

It closed as an all second run house with Loews, they repeated the same ads for weeks after closing, which lead us up there to see Robin Williams in Toys (the only theater in the area showing the movie, this puts the Loews closing at 1992). I remember Magic Cinemas reopened it and the first film I saw under the new opperator was Die Hard with Avengence (putting the reopening at 1995).

Music Makers built the type of theaters you could equate with bowling lanes: long and narrow with wall treatements up high, not spanning the whole height of the wall, but only the top 4th. Another cinema they had, that I assume is still in tact (I haven’t been in years and Loews was remodeling it) was East Stroudberg Mall – which was a very 70’s-80’s multiplex. They also owned a theater in Freehold, I think, and the Interstate in Ramsey. I don’t know if Loews opened it or not, but the Showboat Quad in Edgewater also had Music-Maker like theaters (it closed when the Edgewater Multiplex opened in 2000).