Comments from Cliffs

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Cliffs commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Aug 20, 2013 at 12:52 am

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.

Cliffs commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Aug 19, 2013 at 4:11 pm

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.

Cliffs commented about Regency Village Theatre on Jun 6, 2013 at 7:13 pm

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.

Cliffs commented about Mission Tiki Drive-In on May 19, 2013 at 6:40 pm

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.

Cliffs commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas on Apr 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm

‘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.

Cliffs commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Apr 21, 2013 at 12:23 am

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:

Cliffs commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Apr 20, 2013 at 12:45 am

I know it’s blasphemous, but I’m not HATIN' it so far.

Cliffs commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Apr 17, 2013 at 1:06 am

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, 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.

Cliffs commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Apr 12, 2013 at 10:59 am

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.

Cliffs commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Apr 12, 2013 at 4:28 am

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.

Cliffs commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Apr 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm

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.

Cliffs commented about Cooper Theatre on Apr 7, 2013 at 1:15 am

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?

Cliffs commented about Cooper Theatre on Apr 5, 2013 at 3:02 am

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.

Cliffs commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:02 am

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.

Cliffs commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Jan 11, 2013 at 4:27 pm

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?

Cliffs commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas on Nov 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm

You guys are missing my point because you can’t see past your blind hatred of Twilight. It isn’t about what’s not playing in the Dome, it’s about what is. Chris, have you seen any 3D in the Dome? It’s terrible. That huge curved screen is horrible for 3d, but Arclight doesn’t care (again, despite numerous complaints from viewers). Prometheus used 2 projectors for 3D and the entire right and left quarters of the screen were completely misaligned and impossible to watch (and this also happened with every 3D film to play in there since Avatar). To finally fix the problem, they removed one of the projectors and Amazing Spiderman (while eliminating the ghosting/misalignment) was so dark it was equally unwatchable. I watched most of the movie with the glasses off because it was the lesser of two evils.

Chris, with your hatred of “Lie-Max” can you not see my frustration in a theater that talks all about how presentation quality is their primary goal, yet doesn’t care that the quality of 3D in the Dome is probably one of the worst in the country, yet they continue to force 3D over 2D because fools like me are so in love with the Dome that they keep hoping this time will be different. So yes… Life of Pi: DOME WORTHY. Life of Pi 3D: NOT EVEN CLOSE. But you can’t charge $3.50 extra per seat with the enticement of seeing something at the Dome if you just show 2D.

I’d actually suggested many times to them that the Dome offer 1 or 2 2D showings of film on opening weekends for people who love the Dome but hate 3D in there (even if it’s the late show Saturday night). They steadfastly refuse. They claim it’s because the studios won’t allow them to, despite the fact that theaters like the Ziegfeld in NY and Grauman’s have done exactly that. No, it’s really because they know people will actually flock to the 2D over the 3D and they don’t want to give people what they really want.

Trust me, I love Arclight. I’ve been a member since they re-opened in 2002. I’ve seen more films there than any other theater, but I miss that Arclight. The new Arclight is more concerned with branding itself and becoming a chain with retro-fitted shoe-boxes that don’t really follow the high standards set by Hollywood. They’d rather do pointless Facebook polls about popcorn preferences than actually addressing customer grievances. That’s not the Arclight I fell in love with, though.

Cliffs commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas on Nov 23, 2012 at 12:53 am

BTW, if you want to see Arclight’s incompetence in action (as well as their continued abuse of the Dome as a 3D trash receptacle/extortion tool), they’ve now placed Life of Pi in their in 3D only. They’ve also given it a longer Dome run than either Skyfall or Twilight had. I’m not exactly a Twilight fan, but why in the world a theater would pull the #1 or #2 movie out now from their premiere house to make way for the #6 opener speaks to their desire to cram 3D in there every chance they get (despite numerous complaints from many). I get wanting to diversify the programming in there, but why are they not opening Hitchcock, considering it’s an exclusive with only 2 other theaters in town? Oh, right… cause that’s not in 3D.

Arclight’s become a joke that only cares about squeezing a few extra dollars out of people.

Cliffs commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas on Nov 21, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Because Arclight isn’t what they were 10 years ago when they started. At the birth of Arclight, they were about premium presentations and being a place where movie fans could congregate. Now (and ever since they opened all of the other Arc"LIGHTS" (Sherman Oaks, Pasadena, Beach Cities, La Jolla), they’ve become nothing more than a slightly upscale chain. While they have a historic screen in the Cinerama Dome, they instead insist on using it to extort 3D surcharges (when 3D looks TERRIBLE in there) and would rather run Resident Evil:Retribution 3D for 40 people on a Monday night than try and run something unique and worthy of that screen. I saw a special 35mm screening of The Fly in the Dome a few years ago with Cronenberg doing a Q&A afterwards (on, I think, a Tuesday night) and it was sold out (or nearly). But now, anytime they show Raiders or Ghostbusters or E.T., they show it in one of the standard auditoriums. Occasionally they do good work and have a Cinerama marathon (which, from what I could tell, was EXTREMELY successful) or the run of Kubrick movies they did not too terribly long ago, but for the most part they’ve been abusing what that screen could/should really be.

Cliffs commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas on Oct 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Agreed Flix70. Reserved seats in the Dome are the best thing ever. I have 2 specific locations I like to sit and reserved seating insures I have the seats I want without having to wait (sometimes hours) to get them. When we went to Grauman’s for the final Harry Potter (and this was before they moved to reserved seating there) we arrived around 9:30 for the midnight show and were already down Hollywood Blvd and around Orange. When we were finally let in, there was row after row of great seats covered with long Harry Potter scarves because 2 or 3 people were staking claim to nearly entire rows for friends that hadn’t arrived yet. My friend and I (who, again, both arrived 2+ hours early were relegated to the back corner, second from last row. I’ve NEVER, in the 100+ times I’ve been to the Arclight, had a bad seat there. Not once. To me, that’s why reserved seating is so great.

Cliffs commented about El Capitan Theatre on Sep 4, 2012 at 2:46 am

I’m on their email list and heard NOTHING about a screening of Roger Rabbit. That really depresses me because I would have liked to be there. I just went back through all of my email “mailers” and not a single mention of Rollback Thursday or Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Cliffs commented about iPic Westwood on Aug 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm

But the problem is that it doesn’t really live on… at least not in the way that it was know and loved for. I saw Empire Strikes Back here in the early summer of 1980 and it shaped my life. Not just the movie but this particular theater and the experience it housed. It created my love of movies and the movie-going experience, influenced me to work in the theater business and, now, the movie business, and is one of the single strongest memories I have from my childhood. So from the sounds of it, they’re pretty much gutting the place to turn 4 screens to 6, add a kitchen, and generally create glorified living rooms (with screens that I’m sure will be about as cinematic as most living rooms). Then again, AMC pretty much killed any magic the AVCO had when they butchered the premiere screen downstairs. All I know is that the iPic version of the AVCO will be about as impressive and transformative a theater as that dirt lot that sits where the National used to be.

Cliffs commented about iPic Westwood on Jul 31, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Wow!! 480 seats spread across 6 screens! And sorry, I don’t want servers summoned into the theater at the push of a button. People talking during movies is bad enough, now we have to get ready for people ordering food and drinks during the show? The biggest problem with theaters today is that people act like they are in their living rooms. Now a chain is going out of its way to totally recreate that environment. I guarantee you that when it comes to picking a theater, iPic a different one.

Cliffs commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas on May 12, 2012 at 11:22 am

Monday evening Ben Hur added in the Dome for all those that couldn’t get away on Mother’s Day.

Cliffs commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas on May 5, 2012 at 9:12 am

Actually, tickets are available now.

Cliffs commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas on May 5, 2012 at 9:02 am

FINALLY!!! I was wondering how long it would take Arclight to remember they had the Cinerama Dome (which is actually equipped to show great classic films rather than simply being a 3D surcharge machine, which it’s terrible at). After all of the recent Arclight Presents sell outs maybe they’re getting wise again. Too bad it took them beyond Raiders and The Exorcist to realize it. I will definitely be there in full force.