Showing 1 - 25 of 93 comments found
A delayed response to Barry M’s question of more than two years ago: yes, due to the Bellevue’s location near the Upper Montclair train station and a commuter line running about one hundred feet away, outside noise was an issue even in the single-screen halcyon days. I noticed it, albeit intermittently, from my first trip there (a “Sound Of Music” revival when I was about 13). Reminds me of the old Astor Plaza near Times Square (now the Nokia Theatre, a live venue), where the sounds of the subway trains below the auditorium made their presence felt.
One other thing—of the list that MC compiled (thanks for another terrific job of research, Michael), I wonder how many locations are even still open, let alone in the same configuration they were in 1975. For example, in the New York metro area (including Fairfield County in CT), there’s maybe a dozen theatres that survive out of about 50 listed. All, so far as I know, have long since been subdivided into anywhere from two to seven smaller auditoriums.
I posted on a thread a few weeks ago marking the upcoming 35th anni of the movie’s release, but I’ll put in a couple more cents here. I first saw “Jaws” three days after its opening at what was then the single-screen Clairidge Theatre. As I’ve mentioned earlier, one of the great moviegoing experiences of my life. I remember a vociferous but well-behaved audience that screamed, laughed and applauded as if on cue. (Among other things, they burst into applause when the Richard Dreyfuss character, who’d just been told by the mayor that he didn’t understand the town’s problems, shot back that the mayor was going to “ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass.”) I also remember that during the opening credits, the projectionist gradually rolled open the giant maroon curtain covering the giant Cinerama screen, until you got the full shark’s- eye-view effect—and he did that throughout the movie’s run, apparently, because I went to to see it there again in September, October and November of that year, and he did the same thing each time. A nice touch.
And look at the proportions on this screen: 66 x 35. That’s about 1.85 to 1. In other words, with ‘scope movies you’ll lose about 8 feet of screen height due to top-down masking. Same old same old.
Good point, CWalczak, and I had only clicked on the later version of the article rather than the (inaccurate) Verona-Cedar Grove Times blurb, which does make the erroneous claim that Cinema 23 had only been open for 12 years. The writer also fails to mention that at one time, Verona and Cedar Grove had two single-screen theaters: Cinema 23 and the Verona Theatre a couple of miles away, which shut its doors in the early 1980s.
I’m sure the newspaper article reporting the prerecorded message thanking patrons for their business over the past 12 years was accurate; why would Clearview thank people for patronizing a theater before Clearview ever owned it? (History and tradition seem to count for very little with that company.) I have several fond memories of the Cinema 23 in its single-screen days, and none whatsoever of its five-screen incarnation, which I gave up on after three trips there in 1990. Put it this way: I couldn’t imagine seeing any of the films referenced by Williams in his 70mm posting (several of which I saw there in the ‘70s and '80s) at the post-fiveplexing version of the theatre.
Luckily for me, I was “of age” (14 going on 15) to see “Jaws” in its premiere engagement 35 years ago. I was less lucky about getting in on the first try: the Sunday afternoon show at the Clairidge Theatre in Montclair, NJ—then a single-screen neighborhood palace with a massive Cinerama screen—was sold out, so I had to come back the following day. Still one of the greatest moviegoing experiences I’ve ever had. I remember feeling as though I was actually on that rickety fishing boat during the last 45 minutes of the movie. Saw the movie twice more during that summer and several more times throughout its original 1975-76 run, a 1977 re-release and the ‘79 reissue referenced by Eric F. The 2005 DVD is nice (I always opt for the original mono soundtrack whenever I watch it), but “Jaws” really needs to be seen on a large theater screen.
Made my first visit here a couple of weekends ago. Saw “2012” here, and while the movie itself oozed with cheese, it’s also a good test of a theatre’s presentation quality. On that score, this complex passed, with the special effects properly overwhelming on what seemed like a suitably big screen and the sound clear as well as loud. Some shots did look noticeably pixilated, suggesting that digital projection is still not indistinguishable from film. Not sure whether the theatre uses top or side masking, or where the auditorium for this screening ranked in terms of size within the whole complex. But either I’m becoming reconciled to the whole multiscreen, stadium-seating concept, or else some designers are just getting more clever at providing sightlines that give the impression of a large screen even in a small auditorium with top-down masking. (Here I’m not referring to this theatre, but to the AMC Aviation 12 in Linden, where I saw “Star Trek” in one of the small houses this summer and didn’t feel like I was missing out.) Regardless, I’ll come back to the Kerasotes, even if I miss the two Loews theatres it replaces.
Whether Clearview improves every property they acquire is debatable; whether they do any building is not. There’s a new build with the Clearview brand in the town bordering mine (South Orange, NJ) and there will be another opening in Hoboken, presumably before the year is over. The company has built at least four other theatres in northern NJ (in Summit, Caldwell, Parsippany and Hackettstown) in recent years. Most have tiny auditoriums with scratchy sound. I tend to steer clear of them.
“Alien” in 70mm/6-track mag Dolby on the giant screen of the RKO Paramus was electrifying. The slow buildup got the nerves jangling, and I recall the tension being so high during the final 20 minutes that I peed nonstop for about three minutes after the movie! I saw it twice more that summer in 70mm at the Cinema 23 in Cedar Grove, NJ (still years away from being carved up into a fiveplex), but the experience was somewhat diminished, partly because the Cinema 23’s sound system was noticeably inferior to the one in Paramus. “Aliens,” seven years later and also in 70mm, this time over at the Route 17 triplex in Paramus, was an entertaining action flick but failed to live up its hyperbolic ad tagline (“the scariest movie, ever”).
Hi, my comment got a little bolloxed up with cutting-and-pasting. I meant to say that I would like to be able to watch the DVD without the added scenes, not to watch it without an adult perspective!
I also have fond memories of “Superman” and in particular of seeing it for the first time on its opening weekend on a suitably big screen (in 35mm) at the Cinema 23 in Cedar Grove, NJ (now a carved-up fiveplex). Or maybe I should say fond memories of hearing it there: the surround channels at Cinema 23 tended to be too loud relative to the center channel, but for this movie that imbalance worked very well, especially in the opening credits sequence where the very loud “whoosh”-ing effects and the fanfare-laden music really benefited from enveloping the theatre. Of course, the rest of the movie was pretty good too! If I look back on it from a vantage point of 30 years, I see a mish-mash of acting styles and shifts in tone from respectful seriousness to ‘70s campiness, but recalling how I enjoyed it as a college freshman I’m inclined to put aside my more jaded “adult” perspective. Speaking of the scenes that were added to the DVD—I wish there was the option of watching the movie on DVD without the"adult" perspective. Speaking of the scenes that were added to the DVD—I wish there was the option of watching the movie on DVD without the addiitons. They’re interesting to see once, but then they serve only to clutter up a movie that already runs nearly two-and-a-half hours.
Unlike the Clairidge, the Bellevue in its single-screen glory days did not have the deeply curved screen you normally associate with Cinerama. (Both theatres have since been subdivided, sadly, and you could never tell that they were once 70mm showcase houses.) So while the Bellevue ran its share of exclusive 70mm engagements, it wasn’t really set up to make a Cinerama impression. The ‘78 re-issue of “2001,” ostensibly in Cinerama, didn’t really look any different from the Super Panavision engagement there two years earlier, except that the print in '78 was in much worse shape.
The original “Die Hard” looks more and more like a classic Hollywood blockbuster—“classic” as in something that was uncommonly well done for its time and has held up unexpectedly well. The one saving grace of the sequels was Bruce Willis; having created the character of John McClane, he did that character justice no matter how ridiculous or tedious his surroundings got. My “Die Hard” experience was at the now-defunct Cinema 46 in Totowa, NJ, unfortunately not in 70mm but thankfully in the original big screen auditorium as opposed to the two tiny add-ons that made it into a triplex. As JSA put it, what a ride!
Steven Spielberg’s explanation for filming “Jurassic Park” in 1.85 rather than ‘scope format was, I’ve read, “Dinosaurs are tall.” In fact I recall seeing a JP trailer cropped for 'scope a few weeks before the movie’s release and I remember thinking, when I saw the actual movie in its correct aspect ratio, that the dinosaurs (at least the T. Rex and Brachiosaurus) did look taller in 1.85, even if the screen was narrower (this was on a common-height screen). Cropping the frames for 'scope took away some of the headroom. I’ve always loved 'scope but it’s not always the most appropriate format, even for large-scale movies.
I agree that in many ways JP hasn’t worn well, but that first time seeing it on opening day at the Loews Wayne (not in DTS) was a doozy.
I followed the link and didn’t see anything in there about AMC having expansion plans at Wayne Town Center, merely that a couple of respondents to the blog post thought it might be a good idea if AMC did have these plans. Did I miss something?
The Bohm is open again; the URL is www.bohmcinemas.com and it’s showing three current movies as of 2/10/08.
Looks as though Seattle has got any other city beat, at least on a per-capita basis. In the entire New York City metro area, I count less than 20 single-screen theatres operating as full-time movie houses:
Manhattan: Clearview’s Ziegfeld
Clearview’s 62nd & Broadway
AMC Loews 72nd Street
UA East 85th St.
Two Boots Pioneer Theater
Queens: Fair Theater
Long Island: Bellmore Movies
Montauk Movies (seasonal)
Cinema Arts Centre, Huntington
Westchester: Pelham Picture Playhouse
Jacob Burns Film Center, Pleasantville
Rockland: Lafayette Theatre, Suffern
Connecticut: State Theatre, Springdale
New Jersey: Dunellen Theatre & Cafe
Beach Theatre, Bradley Beach
Algonquin Arts Centre, Manasquan
I may have missed a few, but probably not many.
I have to agree with Bill on both counts about “Empire.” Twenty-seven years later, I still remember the collective gasp that resounded through that large auditorium on opening day when Darth Vader spoke the line that, in the parlance of season-finale episodes on TV, “changes everything.”
I’m guessing it will be. The old Bergen Mall Cinema a couple of miles further west from the tenplex (but further east than the new 16-plex) was open for business on Sundays even though the rest of the mall was closed, if memory serves. And of course both the theatres that the Garden State 16 will replace (the Route 4 10 and the Route 17 triplex) were open on Sundays, despite surrounding stores not being open that day. FWIW, I’m guessing that “Shrek the Third” will open on at least one of the larger (or what passes for “larger” at the tenplex) screens, as “Spiderman 3” will have been out for two weeks already by then and will have probably opened on something like 8,000 screens at 4,000 locations. With that wide an opening, most of the people who see “Spiderman 3” will probably go in the first week or two, and in light of that probable dropoff in demand and to make room for the third “Shrek,” I’m sure theatres with “Spiderman 3” on multiple screens will start shuffling Spidey around on May 18. Maybe they’ll cut back from four screens to three after two weeks, and/or start moving it into some of their smaller auditoriums. Even blockbusters today have much faster turnover than they did in the days when “Star Wars” could tie up Theatre #1 for six months.
I also saw “Star Wars” there after seeing it at Paramus, and wished they had at least gotten Dolby, never mind upgrading to 70mm (the screen was certainly large enough that 70mm capability wouldn’t have been a bad idea, either). Sorry to see it go—and even more sorry to see it turn into a Chuck E. Cheese!
Jodar, you have a point in that most of the theatres where I once saw (and heard) movies in 70mm presentation are long gone, and it may be that the ‘plexes that have come along to replace them just don’t do sound as well, even those with relatively good-sized auditoriums. I don’t know whether it’s the amps, the acoustics, the volume setting (not “loud and clear” but “loud and smeared”) or some combination of the above, but I’ve only rarely encountered the kind of 3D soundfield you describe in the era of digital soundtracks. Too often I come out with a headache and a diminished sense of involvement. Still, it’s probably the theatres and not the sound formats that are to blame—I should’ve insisted to my wife that we see “Sith” at the Ziegfeld rather than the local AMC!
Stop Button: Feel free to use my post.
Jodar: I hear what you’re saying about digital vs. analog 6-track, but in my experience at least, none of the digital formats known to me (Dolby Digital, SDDS, DTS) have managed to produce quite the sense of three-dimensionality that the best 6-track mag presentations could manage. Maybe more detail, and a quieter background from a digital soundtrack, but it all sounds a little two-dimensional by comparison to analog mag—I’m usually aware that it’s coming out of a bank of speakers. When the Viet Cong guerilla tossed a bomb into the helicopter in “Apocalypse Now” at the Ziegfeld in 1979, the concussive effect of the resulting explosion actually made me shudder as though it were going off in the theatre. I expected to be hit by shrapnel! I’ve heard a fair number of explosions in digital sound since then, and they may have been far louder but were never as real-sounding. (Any audiophiles reading this might see a similarity between the LP vs. CD debate that still rages in some quarters, although I don’t necessarily take one side or the other in that particular argument.)
I had just graduated from college and was working a not-quite 40-hour week, so I was unable to take off for the very first show on opening day. They did let me off a little early to get to the 7:30 show—by which I mean I got there around 5:00, waited on a fairly short line to buy my ticket—and then sat in the theatre lobby, which was already filling up, for the last hour and 45 minutes of the previous show. I could hear dribs and drabs of that previous show (loud sound effects, crescendos in John Williams' score, the audience erupting) from out in the lobby, which became progressively more crowded with fans waiting for their chance to see and hear what all the excitement was about.
Once I got inside and the 7:30 show began, the audience was about as enthusiastic as you would have expected, and as a “Star Wars” fan of six years' duration I was caught up in it. It was what I had waited three years for, and I wasn’t disappointed. After it was done, though, it occurred to me that the real stars were not Luke, Leia, Han and Co., but the special effects supervisors. This was the first “Star Wars” movie to give me that impression, and naturally I didn’t know at the time that this would be a foreshadowing of the priorities in the prequel trilogy. (I did see “Jedi” three more times that summer and once more on its 1985 rerelease; once has been enough for any of the prequels.)
The theatre was the now-defunct Eric Twin in Lawrenceville, NJ, a suburb of Trenton, and although the “From Script to DVD” list of 70mm engagements doesn’t include it, I’m positive the Eric showed “Jedi” in 70mm, as it had shown “Empire” three years earlier in that format. The Trenton-Princeton area movie theatres were not listed in either New York or Philly newspapers' movie ads in those days, and so any 70mm engagements would have been advertised on a strictly local level. The Eric, by the way, was probably not quite as overwhelming as the MacArthur in DC or the Park in London, Ont. as described above—it was more like the post-twinning GCC Menlo Park in size and scope—but it did the job. I got my chance to see “Jedi” on a truly enormous screen later that summer.
BTW, JodarMovieFan—I think the difference between the sound quality of “Jedi” in ‘83 and “Sith” in '05 boils down to 6-track mag vs. any of the digital sound formats.
There were a few theatres along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi that were hit hard by Katrina and never reopened. This may be one of them.