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markp yes the studios are destroying the biz they have been wanting to eliminate the theaters and go to pay per view for years and they are succeeding
Well I worked at the Charles and The Astor the screen at the Charles was not that big so I don’t know where you got your information. Yes the Charles had Cinemeccanica 35/70 projectors with carbon arcs. They later converted to xenon and platters so one person could run all three screens. When Sack took over they reduced the screen size even further by masking it off.
The irony here is that while The Arclight maintains a fairly high quality presentation Pacific Theaters owned by the same company is notorious for a horrible presentation.
the 5 perf 70mm prints are going to crop the IMAX footage or letterbox it so all versions will have some cropped or letter boxed footage. It was the filmmakers decision to shoot in multiple formats. I would have seen it at the Dome but I support the projectionists. And yes I expect the Chinese will get it right enough to satisfy the director, Christopher Nolan.
Any good business man know that a shrinking market is bad, so looks like your in the buggy whip business, or would you prefer the pony express.
And you named the only theaters that have a bright picture and good sound and even at those theaters the picture isn’t that bright. I know the business, the current business, just check out any average multiplex and you will find poor quality. More and more I stay at home to watch any movie.
I will go to watch Interstellar at the Chinese and expect they will get it right.
Cinema seat sales has been in a decline for the last five years where have you been? And if the theaters are doing so great why can’t they project a bright clear picture with good sound? Because management hires cheap labor not skilled experts.
Yes United Artist was big on hiring 18 year old kid’s with no experience to thread projectors and push the start button. Where are the United Artist theaters now? Gone just like quality presentation. Focus, framing, presentation all became things of the past when they hired kids with no experience. AMC did the same they had one 18 year old running 20 screens. Digital has not brought the quality that was promised. Most AMC theaters have issues with sound and picture and more now with the digital projectors. All the AMC theaters in Santa Monica have had problems for years. Blown sound channels etc. The baby boom (sub woofer) channel is blown in most theaters. If they need maintenance and technical people why don’t they hire them? Because the theater owners claim to care but in reality they don’t. There are qualified people who could do the maintenance but they don’t hire them.
The presentation picture and sound at the Arclight is very good and the projectionists help keep the quality high. Projectionists do more than just run the projectors they should maintain and repair the equipment. They should go from theater to theater checking sound and picture. Fixing any problem that comes up. Of course when there is a problem you could always wait hours for a technician to show up if the tech is even available. Yes the job has changed a lot the projectionist now has to be a technician and quality control person. Most theater owners have let the quality of their product get so bad people would rather stay at home. The poor presentation in most theaters is just another reason for the distributors to release their films on pay for view. Most people would rather watch the movie at home instead of paying to go see a dim picture and hear bad sound. So in reference to your pony express comment; we can count on putting all the thousands of managers out to pasture when most of the cinemas close because of lack of business because that’s where the business is going.
To answer the questions on screen size pre conversion at the Chinese; the Cinemiracle screen was over 100 feet and was curved. The largest picture using 35mm film scope 2.35 is 65 feet any larger the light required would damage the film. So the masking at the Chinese was set at 65 feet for scope and for 70mm. There has always been a problem getting enough light to fill the huge screen. The IMAX 70mm projector they are going to install for Nolans new film should be bright enough.
low pay, 12 bucks an hour and no benefits
and in IMAX 70mm at the Chinese. I’ll have to see it at the Chinese. I won’t go to the Dome until they settle their dispute with the projectionist. I have been waiting to see an IMAX movie at the Chinese since the redo.
Maybe there were exceptions but souvenir programs were a part of being a road show. Even road shows with general seating had the program.
I went to the Ziegfield in New York to see the Apocalypse original release and the presentation was excellent.
The screen at the Chinese was 120 feet but the curve made up for 20 feet of that so if you look at it dead on it was a little less than 100 feet wide the same size as the Imax screen is now. Only a small area of the screen at the Chinese was used. Width was limited to 65 feet for the 2:35 format 35mm film as the amount of light required to get 18 foot lamberts on a big screen will damage the film.
Yes, the Cinerama Dome opened with Mad World in Ultra-Panavision the print being a single 70mm strand with 6 channels of mag sound on the print. The screen has a medium curve. I don’t know the exact angle. Not as curved as the original Cinerama or Todd-AO screens but the screen at the Dome is curved.
Some people hate it and to those who do I would suggest they just go see the film in another theater. There are loads of flat screens in the city. The screen at the Dome does not bother me even the mild distortion that some presentations have. I have seen films at the Dome for over twenty years. When A Million Ways to Die in the West was moved from the Dome to a Smaller theater I decided to wait and watch it in my home theater when it comes to DVD in a week or so. I don’t have a curved screen in my home theater but if someone would find me an anamorphic adapter I would install a curved screen. Some people hate curved screens and some people love the curved screen. I have seen 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Dome and at the Egyptian (flat screen) and it looked much better on the curved screen at the Dome.
The best curved screen was at Grauman’s Chinese in early 90’s. It was a very shallow curve and no one ever complained about that curved screen. I don’t think most people even knew it was curved.
Michael Coate has done his homework. He corrected me on a few points and after long hours of digging through old newspapers I have found that what he writes is correct. It is certain he knows a great deal about this subject.
I am pretty sure “Raintree Country” was a 35mm reduction print when it played at the Astor as the Todd-AO install was done right before “Porgy and Bess” and that was in ‘59. It interested me to find out that The Astor also ran “Dr. Strangelove” in 35mm 1.66 “The Music Man” in 70mm “El Cid” in 70mm
The buzz about “Star Wars” was alive and well in London well before it was released. In Boston Sack management got rid of the union projectionists that were used to running the Charles and hired others. New prints don’t usually break. The 35mm print I saw at the Charles looked and sounded so bad I called Fox and complained. The operators didn’t even know how to make a proper splice. Fox brought in a 70mm print and I heard that they went through a number of 70mm prints during the run. Why the myth persists that The Charles had a large screen I will never know but in fact the screen at the Charles was not very big and was never the largest in Boston!
I did not know that the owners of the Astor brought legal action against Sack Theaters and many distributors in late 1971. The owners of the Astor claimed they were being shut out of the market.
Yes “Oklahoma!” did open In ‘56 and Porgy was the first Todd-AO film at the Astor. There was an article about the Todd-AO conversions to both the Saxon and The Gary theaters in late 1957 in Boxoffice but the local newspapers confirm these opening dates.
It appears the Gary and the Saxon both got Todd-AO installs around the same time in late 1957. Did Boston wait two years to see “Oklahoma” or “Around the World in 80 Days” or were they move overs from another theater?
The Gary became a Todd-AO house in ‘57 they did not open with a Todd-AO film. There is a box office article about the conversion. If you found ads or information that “Porgy and Bess” ran at the Astor prior to “Spartacus” post it. I have the remains of a ticket stub for “Spartacus” the Astor in Boston was one of the first theaters to run the roadshow version.
Okay the person in the photo holding the Todd-AO lens is David K. who spent many an hour hanging out at the Astor. He is currently chief at the Somerville Theater where he has managed to get two pristine Todd-AO machines refurbished to factory specs and will soon be able to run most formats excepting a rare few.
Unless the Cinerama lenses were the ones for Ultra-Panavision there was nothing special about them. The Todd-AO lenses for the Astor were unique because they they transmitted a lot of light yet the depth of field was very good because their focal length was relatively short. The Astor projectors seldom drifted out of focus for 35mm or 70mm and the arcs held very steady. It was easy to hit 32 foot lamberts with those lenses and the 13.6mm arcs pushed up to 180 amps even with the large screen. The Astor screen was painted silver for House of Wax a 3D 70mm showing. House of Wax 70mm 3D had mag stripes only on the outer edges of the film and required special mag pickups to run those prints.
So far with all of my research the first 70mm film to run at the Astor was Spartacus. The Gary got Todd-AO in ‘57 and it appears that Oklahoma and Around the World in 80 Days ran at what is now the Wang Center and what was then the Metropolitan. The stage at the Wang Center is very wide and there the projection booth is in an ideal location great for Todd-AO. It makes sense that the Wang Center was used for the first Todd-AO showings and then smaller theaters were used to allow for extended runds. Can Can ran in Todd-AO at the Gary starting in early 1960 and ran for a long time. I’m not sure when the Saxon got Todd-AO projectors or what movies played there. When the Cinema 57 was built the Todd-AO projectors were moved there by the new management. Cinema 57 was a horrible theater the acoustics were so bad they had to bring in Dolby to make the dialogue understandable. The screen at the 57 was so small and the auditorium so long and narrow in order to hear stereo beyond the 10th row they moved the left and right channels to sit over the exit doors. The Charles had Cinemacanicas. The new Beacon hill had Century’s 35/70 and they ran a 70mm print of This is Cinerama and it did very poorly. These were the last days for Ben Sack as he was about to get sacked. The new Sack management had a policy of small flat screens like the 57 as apposed to large curved screens like the new Beacon Hill.
I did some digging and found a ticket stub from a 1960 roadshow presentation of Spartacus. This may be the first 70mm film run at the Astor. I also found 16mm footage of the theater when it was a juice bar.
The Astor Todd-AO conversion was probably done in the 1960’s and while the screen was large (one of the largest in downtown Boston) it did not have a deep curve. Instead the screen had a shallow curve as the installation was done several years after the debut of Todd-AO. To do the Todd-AO conversion the whole front of the auditorium was gutted, the stage removed so the screen could be larger than the stage would have allowed. The Todd-AO projection booth was built out of cinder blocks in the middle rear of the first balcony. The original projection booth was in the middle rear of the second balcony. The Cinerama theater on Washington and Essex street had a large curved screen and the Wang Center had a large screen but there is no question that the Astor screen was larger than the Saxon, The Gary or The Charles Theater (some people think the screen at The Charles was big but it was no where near as large as the Astor Screen).
The light source at the Astor was from 13.6mm carbon arcs running at 150+ amps. The projector heads and lamp jaws were water cooled using city water at about 25p.s.i. For 70mm presentations the masking would be opened to full height and full width taller than the 1:85 picture and wider than the 2:35 picture. The installation used Todd-AO projection lenses for 70mm and one of those lenses can be seen in one of the pictures shown here. On one of my many exploratory walks I found ticket stubs from the the 1950’s and early 1960’s and in 1957 and 1959 the Astor was still running 35mm with 4 track magnetic sound. There was a road show presentation of Spartacus (1960) and it did run in 70mm. I know that Ryan’s Daughter ran in 70mm as did a re-release of 2001. There is no question that the 70mm presentations were in short breathtaking and the sound was just outstanding. There were five Altec Voice of the Theater A4 speakers behind the screen and each channel was distinct and the separation was excellent. People can say what they want there was something about the acoustics and the placement of the speakers that made this one of the best sound systems I have ever heard.
I might have some 16mm movie film taken of the auditorium while the theater was being used as an after hours juice bar. The screen was still intact and the Todd-AO projectors were still in perfect condition when the building was closed for the last time. After it was shuttered for the last time the building was set on fire several times the projectors were vandalized and ended up being scrapped. The Todd-AO lenses are in a private collection. The auditorium was very plain and dimly lit so it was hard to get a good picture. The building was very old dating back to the 19th century. There were gas lights in one of the stair wells lead acid storage batteries in the ceiling and a steam engine in the basement none of these had been used for many years but were in use at one time when it was the Tremont Theater.