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Hmmm… that would certainly be a question for Michael Coate. He’d be the one most likely to know. Let me see if I can get him here.
I would think the Village and Bruin theaters, both in Westwood, would qualify. The Village opened in 1931 and the Bruin in 1937. Both still show first run films (the Village currently has Mad Max and the Bruin has Tomorrowland).
Yeah, I saw the 8pm Thursday showing of Catching Fire at the Chinese (first showing ever) and it was barely half full. It’s certainly picked up since then. I think a lot of people had abandoned the Chinese when it wasn’t showing much (and also, truth be told, it ended up being a bit too tourist-y for most locals, who instead were more inclined to go to the less hectic Arclight and Grove). The average movie-goer probably hadn’t seen a film there in several years. I’m a massive movie-goer and had probably only been there 6 times in the 5 years before the conversion (I went twice in 2011 and didn’t even step foot inside there in 2012). Catching Fire was only two months after the re-opening and I just don’t think anyone knew about it.
The other thing to remember is that no one uses a newspaper anymore for showtimes and the Chinese didn’t fall under some larger corporation, so to find out what was playing at the Chinese, you had to seek it out. The showtimes weren’t sitting there across from the Pacific ad or under the AMC times. That’s another reason I think it took a little while to get the word out. As I said, I think the fact that they specifically installed a 70mm film projector for Interstellar got the theater a lot of eyeballs again. There was a lot of press that they were doing this and I think it put the Chinese back on people’s radar.
Yeah, Danny’s right. It’s hard to compare before to after since the last few years of the Chinese before the IMAX conversion they were booking nothing but junk (essentially what The Dome and the El Cap didn’t want) and holding onto it for waaaaay too long (they ran Tyler Perry’s Temptation for 4 weeks… it wasn’t an engagement, it was a sentence). Every once in a while they’d book something big (like The Hobbit in HFR3D), but they’d still be stuck playing it to empty houses for weeks (7 in this case) after the opening weekend flurry came and went. Now, they can book with more frequency and get films they didn’t have access to before. They didn’t even run Avengers for a full two weeks (returning Furious 7 in there for the last 3.5 days). I’m not so sure it even outdraws the El Capitan across the street. The El Capitan has a crazy following and sells out faster then the Dome even.
The better news about the Chinese is that it is now IMAX’s premiere house. Whether it’s installing a film projector to present Interstellar (the first time since Harry Potter 7.2 that an actual line formed on Hollywood Blvd) or the new laser projector, IMAX is treating this theater like home base.
It’s definitely picked up. It still doesn’t sell out like the IMAX in Universal City would, but it’s also got twice the amount of seats. It seemed like it was a fairly well kept secret for a while, but the secret seems to be getting out little by little. The 70mm film run of Interstellar did a lot to get people back in there to realize what they’d done with the IMAX conversion. It doesn’t really seem to be totally keeping pace with the Dome on the same films, but a quick glance at the seating for tonight’s Mad Max evening shows seem to maybe be slightly fuller at the Chinese versus the Dome.
No, Arclight now runs the Dome pretty much exclusively 2D. You could also hit up the Village and the Bruin in Westwood, they stagger 2D and 3D.
It’s too bad, because IMAX has branded all of these films as “The IMAX 3D Experience” meaning they won’t even show any of these films in 2D because their branding is more important to them than their customers. That means 3D only for Mad Max, San Andreas, Jurassic World, Terminator Genesys, etc, regardless of what their audience actually wants.
I agree, it’s sad because I really want to support the Chinese and keep them strong, but I’m not going to settle for an experience I don’t want to do so. My next trip to the Chinese won’t be until Mission Impossible at the end of July.
Yeah, sooooo… While I was supremely impressed with the new IMAX Laser projection during Furious 7, I was far less impressed with IMAX Laser 3D during Mad Max Fury Road. The new glasses (which remind me of Dolby 3D’s) are murky and cloudy. Nearly everyone in our group (of 13) for Mad Max last night said they attempted several times in the first 15-20 minutes to clean them, realizing eventually that that’s just how they are. Not so noticeable during bright scenes, but distracting during darker ones. They’re also quite a bit smaller than the old IMAX 3D glasses, meaning the closer you sit, there’s a chance that the “lenses” on the new glasses won’t be big enough to completely clear the screen and will block part of the image.
We were thinking we might be seeing Episode VII there this December and Mad Max was a test, but we’ve ruled that out with the current Laser 3D tech. It’s too bad they can’t offer up IMAX 2D showings staggered with the 3D. Then at least people have a choice and don’t get forced the, in my eyes, substandard experience.
Yeah, the sound post IMAX conversion wasn’t very impressive. Very loud but not very crisp or detailed. Since the redo with the 12.1 it seems to have fixed that problem and made the sound better than ever.
My understanding is that IMAX won’t allow masking on IMAX branded presentations. They want that full screen displayed regardless of whether or not it’s fully used. I agree, on stuff like Furious 7 that doesn’t shift aspect ratios, it would be nice to get it masked properly. I will say, however, that with the new laser projection and new deep black levels, I almost could never tell there was no masking. Hopefully IMAX relaxes that rule in the future, but they want to make sure audiences know their screens are BIIIIIIIIG!!!!
Laser projection at the Chinese is tremendous! The new IMAX trailer that played before the Furious 7 had the deepest black levels and most vivid colors I’ve ever seen projected anywhere. And the picture on that huge screen was razor sharp and jaw droppingly beautiful. In fact (and shockingly since F7 had a 2K DI), you could see a definite drop in quality when the movie pulled in footage from Tokyo Drift (which was Super35). Aside from the slightly bigger screen overall, the sound appears to be better as well. At least 4 new ceiling speakers were counted. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sound at the Chinese since the IMAX redo, but I’m converted with this redo redo. It was truly spectacular.
Word is that this theater (which I had the pleasure of asst. managing about 23 years ago) is now closed.
That’s not what I said or was talking about… I understand the differences between the IMAX and the mass cropped scope versions. I know the business, the current business, after all. I was making a point about how the Chinese is handling this release (and only THIS release). It’s a compromise that Universal City won’t have.
Actually… What any good business man knows is that profit trumps volume. Would you rather sell 50 buggy whips and make $20 or sell 20 and make $50? Your answer will tell me what kind of business man you are. Eventually that may catch up to itself, but it hasn’t yet. When Disney goes to it’s shareholders, do you think they say, “We made a record profit this year, but unfortunately the number of actual ticket sold were down. Best to get out now despite the profit.”
And no… the Chinese isn’t going to do it -completely- right. Because they installed a 1.90:1 screen for digital IMAX, they’re actually going to be reducing screen size for the scope portions of Interstellar and masking big chunks of the screen on the left and the right to accommodate the full height of the IMAX filmed portions (Which is something I warned would happen when the Chinese was being discussed last year). Look at the seating chart for the Chinese and you’ll see they’re not selling seats in the lower right and left because those will be outside of the reconfigured frame. So even though they’re doing it as “right” as possible, those expecting to see Interstellar from wall to wall are going to be disappointed.
I’d rather sell 1 seat and make $14 than 2 seats and make $10. A dollar trumps a seat and last year was more $$$ than ever before. Where have you been?
And where are you going where they can’t project a bright clear picture with good sound. I usually don’t have problems at Arclight, the Chinese, the Regencys in Westwood. Maybe you should be better at choosing theaters.
And yet, as an 18 year old who was not a professional projectionist… I was great at the job (which, btw, was in addition to assistant managing). When building prints I used tricks like overlapping a sliver of the heads and tails of a reel so that you didn’t get audible pops out of the optical soundtrack. I’d use clear tape for reel change and apply a sliver of colored tape outside the sprocket holes so that you didn’t get dropouts in sound or black flashes on screen at reel changes. I insisted on tracking down the DTS cd-roms for Jurassic Park when we ran it a year later before the VHS and LaserDisc release so that we could be one of the only ones running it in 6-track digital during it’s re-release in late 94. I also insisted we put it in our largest theater (which was about 600 seats with a vary large screen) and I made sure we ran the curtains appropriately. We did about 40% of the city’s entire Jurassic business that week.
I’ve seen many a brain wrap at the hands of union projectionists. We had a union projectionist build up Exorcist 3 with reels 3&4 swapped and nobody noticed until Monday afternoon. When I saw The Rocketeer at Arclight a few years ago (it was reel to reel), every other reel was mono (which the projectionist never fixed despite several complaints from me). I was told that they unfortunately had reels from a mono print as well as a stereo print, but anyone who knows anything about optical tracks (especially circa 91) knows that’s not how it works. A “professional” projectionist would surely know that, right? Oh, and take a guess where the only place I’ve ever had a problem with digital projection is?? The Arclight- Once when the projector was flashing purple digital blocks during a screening of Paranorman and once when they had to reboot the projector for whatever reason and start over. So even the underpaid Arclight projectionists there to “handle problems” can’t always seem to.
Quality and presentation has nothing to do with your job title and everything to do with your passion and drive. If the presentation quality of these theaters has deteriorated, it really has very little to do with the job title of the people in the booth and more about the types of people they’re putting in that booth.
Like I said, projectionists the past 20 years have really been more about keeping schedules than anything else. Now, with everything as automated as it is, that responsibility is becoming evermore unnecessary. Should theaters be expected to pay more for someone on site just on the off chance that they might someday have a problem that needs fixing immediately? There’s no more prints to be built, there’s no more projector threading, there’s no more reels to be rewound, there’s no cleaning of projectors between every show. While I understand your romanticism of the projectionist as a symbol of movie-going (I really get it), it’s an increasingly outdated concept (as is the Pony Express).
I’m a special features producer for DVD and Blu-ray and as I’ve seen the market change and the demand for my job shift, I’d had reevaluate my role and decide how to adapt to make myself relevant (and successful) in the future. These guys seem to be clinging to Interstellar as a last hurrah to better their situation because they know it’s their LAST hurrah, for better or worse. It is what it is.
And the idea of putting the theater managers out to pasture because of lack of business is just dumb. 2013 set a new record of $10.9 BILLION in North America and while this year is going to be down (but not by much overall… less than half a billion at this point), next year will, in all likelihood, be even bigger and almost certainly break $11 billion.
In Arclight’s defense… it’s not like film projectionist is an in demand job anymore. We weren’t utilizing projectionists when I was working for United Artists 20 years ago (other than district-wide “maintenance”), so I’m not sure what’s changed. Projectionists used to be a vital part of the exhibition of film (with the necessary film changeovers and projector maintenance), but as we moved to platters and certainly now with digital, the role and importance of the projectionist is evermore questionable. This is not to start a debate on film vs digital, but just a question about the demand and supply of projectionists in the current exhibition climate. Most theaters really need part-time DITs now (again… district wide). It’s like being the guy who still maintains the horses for the Pony Express complaining that he’s underpaid.
I have to say I was initially worried about the Atmos retrofit for the theater and how it would affect the Village aesthetically. Having gone to see Apes at the Village this week, those concerns were unfounded. Unlike the El Capitan, where it looks like they just hung scaffolding to attach the new speakers (Which might be all they could do and protect the architecture… so not to bash the El Cap) the Village Atmos is very well installed. Oh, and it sounds great too. So yeah… Dolby Atmos and THX together at last!
Well, it was also beneficial for Arclight to break away from the Chinese because it also allows them access to Disney now (which they didn’t have before). After losing Avengers and Iron Man 3 to the El Capitan, they were able to get Thor, Captain America, Muppets Most Wanted, and eventually Star Wars, Pixar, and the rest. Had the Chinese never IMAX’d and the booking district split, Arclight would almost certainly never had any of those films. I’m sure that’s worth, long term, whatever attendance might get pulled by the Chinese now.
Or The National… :‘(
But I’m glad to see this arrangement. The Village and Bruin have been on a positive trajectory since the closing of the Avco and it looks like the iPic might have been the best thing for them (sort of how splitting the booking for the Chinese and the Arclight Hollywood has really improved the viability of the Chinese the past 9 months). Great to see so many of the previously endangered treasures getting some extra life.
The fact that both are booking day and date is fantastic news for both. I couldn’t imagine how iPic was going to book in their low seating count auditoriums while the Village had 1200 seats up the street. Conversely, it looks like the Village and Bruin will now be able to continue shorter 2 week bookings and keep those films fresh. This is a happy, happy day.
Spend 20 years twinning, triplexing, and tearing them all down and then the past 5 rebuilding inferior replacements.
You simply spouted off a bunch of totally false information in a tone of total authority. I like to hear the opinions of others, but I always hope those opinions have a LITTLE research or knowledge behind them and not just wild swings in the dark.
And for the record, I’ve not seen more than a half season of Veronica Mars (and certainly not seen the movie) and can’t really stand Tyler Perry… So congrats! You’re 0 for 2 now.
There’s so much wrong with almost everything you said. As markinthedark points out, Veronica Mars opened on only 291 screens (vs 1900 for SMC and 3500 for 300:ROAE), 260 of which were rented by Warner Bros as essentially “private screenings.” Those showings had more people in them, per showing, than anything else in the top 10 except Grand Budapest Hotel. More screens, more money.
When Frozen opened in November, it was #22. Would you say that film got kicked off the podium? Of course it was only in 1 theater that opening weekend.
I’m just saying a bit more research might be necessary before you go off on your next “commentary.”
Well, they’re showing Back to the Future there on June 21st, so it looks like it will still be a movie theater, from time to time.
I’m still absolutely baffled as to how an auditorium that housed a 90 foot wide screen now contains a 53 foot wide screen. Where did that extra 40 feet fit? Did they somehow shrink the auditorium?
I can’t imagine a lot of studios are going to want to book an 85 seat screen when they have 1300 seats up the street (at least on their biggest releases). I imagine a lot of move-overs and limited first runs. At best, you might get the occasional big summer movie taking up three or four of their six screens.