Comments from John Fink

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John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Maple Ridge 8 on Jan 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm

It hasn’t upgraded to stadium seating, although Theatre #2 has digital projection for 3D showing some signs of confidence from AMC. They have yet to do a full digital upgrade.

In truth upgrading it to stadium seating would present many limitations – the projection booths are a few steps up – there’s no height to pull it off without gutting the place. The seats also appear to be original as well. The theater also never received an upgrade to the AMC of the 90’s look (white, blue, pink) and still has it’s 1980’s charm (dark red, light browns). The staff/management keep the place spotless. The theater also is experimenting with different price structures – last summer all shows Monday-Thursday were $4.50, now they are discounting M-Th adult admission to $6.75 with Fri-Sun at $9.

It still holds its own being close to University at Buffalo’s North Campus (although the school runs free midnight movies at the Dipson’s Amherst Theater on Saturday across from UB South) – although I wish AMC would retreat from the market altogether and for Dipson to take over its lease as I think a more localized approach to the film programing would lead to a more interesting movie selection.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Destinta Theatres closes Independence Plaza 12 on Jan 6, 2011 at 8:08 am

Destinta Theatres is a bit of a mystery to me – nothing is really known about them, they’ve made no comment on the closure of Independence Plaza.

All of the theaters seemed to pop up (1998-2000)– pretty much at random in the Northeast (NJ/PA/CT) right about the same time, including some very large theaters (a 24-screener of theirs opened close to and was responsable for a new Loews 20-plex closing 14 months after it opened: /theaters/5793/)) Searching news archives on them, it appears since they opened their fleet they’ve had no desire to expand and are based in Lodi, NJ – interestingly enough they have no theaters in the Northern NJ area.

Anybody else have any info on Destinta?

John Fink
John Fink commented about Clairidge Cinemas on Dec 29, 2010 at 1:12 pm

The Clairidge does occasionally lack attention to details like this, and the way some of the theaters especially #4 has been constructed (very obnoxious keystoning more obvious in flat than scope). #6 used to be the worst, especially since the screen is on a slant providing odd slight-lines, They blocked off an exit and reduced seat out (for fire code) and they seemed to have corrected the majority of its issues. #4, an odd shaped auditorium needs to be upgraded to boothless digital so they can correct the keystoning issues. Another Clearview with unacceptably crappy projection that they didn’t think was necessary to fix in the past 13 years they’ve owned the place.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Showplace Schererville 16 on Dec 26, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Save for Black Swan and King’s Speech – both are playing the 16 plex is showing ALL of the same films as the 12 plex, some even with the same showtime (if going to the movies in Schereville, IN – you can catch Harry Potter at either plex at 6:25PM). This situation has me curious.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Emerson Quad on Dec 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm

It was run by Clearview – while it was shocking to me then in retrospect nothing shocks me about that chain, they have such little regard for the customer experience (including proper masking/projection) – they actually for a little while got better, but I have many stories about how notoriously crappy their theaters are. I can forgive a small mom and pop operator or a small chain for inconsistencies from time to time, but Clearview is a major chain (that runs crappy theaters built on the cheap) AND charges first run prices that are equal to and in most cases more than the large national chains that offer better amenities.

Quick proof how downright evil they are: the Clairidge in Montclair FOR ONE WEEK ONLY had decided to eliminate matinee, senior (the majority of their audience I’d guesstimate), and child pricing – all seats, all times $10.50. After bad publicity they revered the policy the next week.

John Fink
John Fink commented about The fall of the Colonial Twin Theater is documented in Reality Series. on Dec 23, 2010 at 8:45 am

If I remember correctly Last Action Hero was “such a mega hit” at the Colonial for the first week they had it on both screens! That and I remember the Colonial having reel to reel projection.

There’s a few reasons the place didn’t/couldn’t survive: newer plexes around in Kinnelon (the worst movie theater in the country in terms of projection) and Wayne (circa that time getting upgraded from 8 to 14 screens). Not to mention the place was a bit run down, musty, ect. Downtown Pompton Lakes barely had any activity: if they some how could have encouraged more businesses like restaurants to open up, The Colonial might have sustained itself.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Hamilton 10 in Hamilton closes on Dec 19, 2010 at 7:27 am

When the DOJ and individual states consider these mergers they look at market saturation and determine if AMC will have too much market share that it can manipulate ticket prices. AMC in this case has been ceding market share by consolidating screens, here they consolidated downwards from 18 probably in a single booking territory to 8, I don’t know the circumstances. I know when Rave closed the Maumee 18: Cinema De Lux in Ohio they did so because it was the only property they owned, the others around it were leased and therefore if they pulled out of one of those properties they would have in violation of a lease and had the risk of another operator coming in.

Where I show concern is that AMC is closing rural theaters – granted if folks in rural areas were cinephiles they’d move to large cities. The cinema perhaps isn’t as essential a tool for building a form of self identity in a collective society as it once was (when some of these sites in question and recently were built, many before TV – I’m thinking of the rural twins and singles, not the Hamilton 10). Only one I know of (the Mall 3 in Iowa) has been acquired. I wish AMC had done the honorable thing and that would be to run them in the short term, some of these rural sites are allegedly 30-40 miles from another cinema.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Plaza Cinema on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:32 am

There’s an embedded video tour of the place (from YouTube) on Eisentraut Theaters' website. It’s not easy to see why AMC decided this place wasn’t in their model: it’s the type of theatre they abandoned running in the 80’s even though it probably still does well (although the margins aren’t nearly what they’d be at a 24-plex). Despite the fact the owner of the chain has expressed some bizarre and controversial views on this site a few years ago – I wish the operation well for the sake of the community.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Prima Cinema brings new releases straight to your home...for a minor fee on Dec 16, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Not just that – – there’s also a $500 rental fee in addition to the 20K install fee. If I was an exhibitor I’d be going to war with Universal – day and date releases that have been successful are few and far between (IFC has had a few that were minor successes, as has Magnolia). Exhibitors should be more militant, Paramount interestingly enough I read didn’t sign with Prima (I don’t think National Amusements who is a much smaller force now a days had much to do with it). I know Regal and AMC have/had a policy of not playing anything that showed day and date, it’s a good policy to have. Then again I like to think if your rich enough to afford a Prima Cinema, you’re probably well connected enough to get DVDs.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Hamilton 10 in Hamilton closes on Dec 13, 2010 at 11:56 am

AMC did get many new Showplace houses, a few they had to sell to Regal and Landmark to satisfy anti-trust regulators. So they bought 900+ screens and are closing probably about 100 that don’t fit their business model, which is sad for folks living some 30+ miles from another movie theatre in rural areas. I suppose Hamilton is considered “over screened” or they’re consolidating by keeping open Showplace Hamilton 8 which looks maybe only a mile away from this one. I suppose they are cutting certain operations as the look to upgrade the entire circuit to digital.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Two luxury cinemas opening at Jacksonville's Latitude 30 entertainment complex on Dec 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Interesting website with pictures stole from Cobb’s Cinebistro and iPic

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC closes the Cinema in Kennett, MO on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:37 pm

NYC is a different beast of a market, that one might be fine – Regal still has a single screen in NYC. But if it does close it’ll be subject to Justin Scott’s same shameful, spineless answer “we continually upgrade the blah blah blah” – right, so why are you closing and not upgrading these markets – oh because you wanted the nice, new Kerastoes Showplace multiplexes….

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC closes the Cinema in Kennett, MO on Nov 30, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I have a feeling the closures had more to do with managing a theatre off the grid, that is not within AMC’s central computer system so that showtimes and concession prices are loaded directly from Kansas City, of coarse when they screw up and make a typo it becomes difficult to fix when that happens (it happened to us once when we purchased tickets online for Idiocracy only to discover the theater had no print of it, the theater had to “sell it out” and manually override the system for the correct film).

As for these theaters, if they are profitable I hope another operator will come in, I’ve heard some in rural areas are some 30 miles from another theater, I wouldn’t want to imagine the impact on the towns the theaters are in. I hope we can hear from a local who can tell us if these theaters were getting by or were really not profitable. I assume it may be a mix, I know Kerasotes did replace/close a few smaller theaters in the last few years – however I’d like to think if they kept them open (barring the sale to AMC) they must have considered them profitable enough to warrant it.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Essex Green on Nov 24, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I don’t know and truthfully don’t care about THX certification which is a scam by which most, if not all modern multiplex screens would qualify for certification if they’re willing to pay George Lucas for the rights to the brand. But I did see a movie a smaller Cinema Suites auditorium and have a few notes: the Fork & Screen/Cinema Suites experience was very comfortable but ultimately a bit distracting.

The main entrance was re-done and the box office removed with an automated box office only (I suppose if your paying cash you can at Guest Services, inside, they re-did, adding a wall to the area that used to be the long closed/removed Sound Stage Cafe. The snack bar is now a real bar, and there’s a bit of seating around the lobby.

They retiled the bathrooms, and repainted some walls. The seating was modified and is about, if not less than what the theaters had (Cinema Suites, the complex’s four smallest sat about 50-60). As for value: the food was a slight upgrade from the chicken fingers and fries at other AMC’s (in fact that’s what we had). It was okay but the prices are movie theatre prices, so your getting mediocre Applebee’s kind of food at movie theatre prices.

Service was a tad slow, including a wait from start to finish for an hour for popcorn (by time I pushed the seat-side button, the server came, then they told us they were popping more, and ultimately it came out an hour from when I first pushed the button). We arrived about 25 minutes before the show and had our drinks (strangely the wine was the only thing similarly priced in value to a restaurant) and appetizers with the previews. Our meal came out about 15-20 minutes into the feature, and from there plates sat, which is a little annoying. The service was friendly, if not slightly distracting, when the bill comes around it’s towards the end of the feature – imagine what revelations you might miss in the distraction.

The seats themselves were plus recliners that reclined at the push of a button as well. The idea of eating a whole meal with the swivel table is a little distracting from the movie, as your trying not get any food on you. The theater itself is an okay experience, the food is pretty boring for the most part especially since they advertise “Cinema Suites” as an upscale evening out, Gold Class looks more interesting on the cuisine front.

Did I dislike the concept? No, but I there are some kinks AMC needs to work on before this can go prime time (I don’t think it ever really can). While I like having food options in the theatre, I did have to say the idea of eating a meal is distracting, perhaps next time I’ll go for finger food, the idea of cutting and worrying about not dropping food on you is enough to take you out of the picture.

John Fink
John Fink commented about TIFF Bell Lightbox on Nov 21, 2010 at 7:16 pm

The main floor has the gift shop, an exhibition hall (currently Tim Burton, the last exhibition coordinated with TIFF’s Essential 100 Films), box office and Canteen (excellent place to grab a quick bite). The second floor has Luna (a sit down restaurant), Theaters 1, 2, and 3 (I’ve been in 1 and 3 – both screens seemed a bit higher than the could have been but otherwise flawless sound and design, I think 3 was a reel to reel house), and a snack bar. The third floor has theaters 4 and 5, classrooms and offices.

Upon opening 4 and 5 were used for exhibitions, including 8 ½ Screens, an instillation by Atom Egoyan in which the seating area was draped with white screens and the projector (placed on the stage) projected images from 8 ½ directly onto the screens.

I’m hoping at some point in my academic career to explore the resources they have for film scholars, it’s also worth noting this is in the same neighborhood as the National Film Board’s Toronto Mediateque.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Reserved seating at Frank Theatres on Nov 21, 2010 at 11:18 am

It works for certain theaters and films – I for one liked reserving an IMAX seat for the Dark Knight and showing up 10 minutes before the show opening weekend. They also had staff to assist folks in finding their seats.

For most films and showtimes at most theaters it’s probably a non-issue, however I do know a few megaplexes that could use reserved seating system on weekends. It looks like Rave abandoned it at most of their Cinema De Lux sites they acquired.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Carlton Cinema on Nov 20, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I visited the theater this afternoon – Magic Lantern refurbished much of it including installing new seats, carpeting and other changes including more seating the lobby area (removing Alan Smithee’s a bar that was there as Cineplex, however closed when I was there last), a new mural, and a new paint job. The place looks good – the screens are still small, but the theater is comfortable and far cheeper than their competitors ($9 adult price verses $13 elsewhere in town), hopefully it’s filling a niche because the programing is excellent.

It’s also worth noting it’s showing features day and date with many competitors including AMC Younge & Dundas, Scotibank, Varsity and even (currently) TIFF Bell Lightbox.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC closing the Plaza 3 in Keokuk on Nov 18, 2010 at 8:59 am

I hope they don’t especially in areas where patrons claim there’s no theatre for 30-50 miles. I hope they’d do the honorable thing and sell to a local operator.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Uptown Cinemas on Nov 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Due to close on Nov 28th per View link

John Fink
John Fink commented about Dollar Cinema Richmond on Nov 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Unless revived will close as an AMC – one of a few that will be purged from the Kerasotes sale that doesn’t live up to AMC’s business model (which doesn’t include discount houses and small rural theaters).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cinema 4 on Nov 15, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Looks like it’ll be closing – don’t know what other AMCs from Kerasotes will be on the chopping block but I assume many that don’t have online ticketing are in play – the complete list of acquired sites is at: www.amctheatres.com/welcome

The article on this one closing is buried on this page with a few more interestingly odd stories at: View link

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cinema Grill coming to Hartford on Nov 15, 2010 at 6:57 pm

This one was already reported: http://cinematreasures.org/news/25077_0_1_0_M/

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC closing the Plaza 3 in Keokuk on Nov 15, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I’m thinking a smaller regional operator will come in and make a deal if it’s still profitable. I assume Kerasotes must have though it was still a viable operation, and I don’t think small theaters in rural neighborhoods are unprofitable if correctly run, it’s just they don’t produce the margins to warrant AMC overhead and attention, especially if they’re going to upgrade (or install) computer systems or digital projection.

Per www.amctheatres.com/welcome – this site didn’t offer online ticketing, so I don’t know if their systems are as integrated as they would be in a newer Showplace where I’m sure real time data on large popcorn sales can be relayed to Kansas City. I assume that might be an accounting headache for management – but they’re not the only small non-online ticketing – this list includes a few twins, two four-plexes, and a single screen (Kennett, MO).

An internet search reveals that another theatre in Harrisburg, IL (4 screens) is also closing and another 4-screen AMC from Kerasotes in Princeton, IL is endangered as Showplace Cinemas (not the Bros Kerasotes) is opening a new site in the same town: View link

I’m willing to bet that the rest of the aforementioned small non-Showplace locations are living on borrowed time.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Palace 17 and Odyssey Theater on Nov 14, 2010 at 10:27 am

I got a very quick response from Joe (next day) – and passes in the mail. What happened (a projection issue) could have happened at any theatre, before digital alleviating many common projection problems I counted National Amusements and Dipson Theatres (Western NY) as the best in the country for 35MM projection and even they had the occasional problem screening. There is one theatre I regularly comment on because for the past 10 years they’ve been providing poor projection at first run prices. The Palace is one that I don’t know that well, and secondly I doubt it’s the norm – I had been here twice before under Bow Tie and didn’t have any issues.

Despite the higher ticket prices and no student rate which I think is a shame with the colleges in the area including UHa which has an excellent Cinema Studies program, things look to have improved especially with the addition of Cinema City at the Palace, an additional screen for art/indie film makes me happy to see. (Film culture in Hartford is alive and well with the announced addition of a new Cinema Grill and with the growth in attendance at Hartford International Film Festival, which I was in town to screen my film at)

John Fink
John Fink commented about Emerson Quad on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:37 am

closed, demolished….and not missed.