To My Local Theatres

Awright, guys, it’s time to talk. This has been building up for a while now, and this is a discussion that needs to happen.

First of all, I understand that theatre owners don’t make the movies. That’s fine. I understand this. If the movie is crap, oh well. I mean, I don’t begrudge you the advertising, the promotion; Hollywood sends you all this stuff with the reels. They expect you to advertise, and I expect you to advertise. If the movie sucks, that’s okay. I forgive you. I’m not one of those guys who will demand his money back if the movie stinks.

…but there ARE some things you could do if you expect to keep my business.

1. Commercials. Guys, this is just not going to do. I mean, movie trailers are one thing. Those slides you show that have ads for local businesses, before the movie ever starts, that’s one thing. Gives us something to look at while we wait, no?

And five or ten movie trailers, well, that’s fine. We expect this. It’s traditional.

…but now, we begin every showing with a Coca-Cola commercial. Sometimes two. And in other theatres, I’m beginning to see commercials for Milky Way candy bars and dishwashing liquid. Guys, this is very bad, and if you can’t see it, you’re headed for trouble. Why the hell would I want to come to YOU and pay $7 for a ticket and $10 for refreshments to see commercials that I could stay at home and see for free? This is a diminishing returns kind of thing, guys. The more commercials, the less likely I am to wanna come and buy your overpriced popcorn. In fact, the words “DVD” are starting to sound better and better.

2. The Staff. Yeah, I know, running a movie theatre isn’t cheap. First-run movies cost more than ever to rent. However, I really don’t think that staffing your entire theatre with sixteen-year-olds is the answer. I mean, I have nothing against teenagers, but wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a few adults in place? A manager, perhaps? An usher? Particularly when that dickhead with the &%$#@ cell phone decides he’s going to conduct business in the middle of the movie, and my wife goes to complain, and your pimple-faced personnel manager, rather than doing anything, shrugs and says, “Nothing we can do, ma’am.”

Gee, I wonder if you’d take that attitude if I brought in my own drinks and popcorn?

3. The Bulb. This one is what drove me to begin seeing the movies I REALLY wanted to see at theatres other than yours. I know, I know, your projectors are really big and complicated, and a bulb burning out is a major, expensive thing, a drain on your resources, and certainly not something you can duck down to Safeway to replace.

…but you know what? When you cheap out and use a bulb that’s not the recommended wattage, it makes the movie look murky. When the movie’s ALREADY fairly dark – The Blair Witch Project, for example – your financial decision has made at least part of the movie unwatchable. Why, then, am I giving you money to look at blurry muddy images on a fuzzy screen? The TwentyPlex down the road in the next town doesn’t do this, although they’re getting pretty obnoxious about the Coke commercials before the feature.

4. The End Of The Movie. Now, guys, I paid to see this movie. That’s why I’m being a dick about this. I PAID to see your movie. That means I paid to see ALL of it. If I want to watch the credits and listen to the score, well, I paid for it, didn’t I? Maybe I wanna see who the Gaffer was, and the Best Boy. Maybe I really, really like the soundtrack. Maybe I wanna see if any animals were harmed in the making of this film. Maybe I wanna see if there’s a sting at the end of the credits, like in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets. Hell, maybe the story is still being TOLD in the credits, like in the remake of Dawn Of The Dead.

I have that right, to see the credits. Bought it along with my ticket.

…and this means that sending your teenage cleanup crew in to clean the theatre while I am still trying to watch the credits and hear the music is NOT WHAT YOU SOLD ME, you asshole! I don’t want to see these geeks blocking my view while they pick up other people’s popcorn tubs, and I don’t want to hear their conversations about who’s hot and what Jojo did at the party last weekend! Tell your cleanup crew to stay the hell out while the goddamn movie is playing, and I don’t CARE if there’s only one or three people left in there! THEY PAID TO SEE THIS MOVIE!

Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m not in the 18-to-35 bracket any more. Maybe you don’t CARE about my business any more, because I’m old enough to remember when theatres were better than they are now… but I’m also old enough to know something about people, and about business.

…and I am here to tell you that I will cheerfully drive twenty miles to any theatre showing a movie I want to see that provides ALL of these services. And I suspect I’m not alone.

Watch and learn, boys. Or at least, I hope.

Roger Ebert has argued repeatedly, with backup from some electrical engineering-types, that turning down the brightness on the projector actually does nothing to preserve bulb life, and thus saves no money at all.

I don’t know enough about it to know that he’s right, but the arguments seemed convincing.

Perhaps someday they will build an Alamo Drafthouse in Dallas.

And there will be much rejoicing.

I understand they’re doing one in San Antonio.

Gonna have to look into that.

I’ve seen a lot of complains for US cinemas in these boards. I have never had any of these problems in the UK, and I usualy watch one movie per week. Just yesterday I went to see “The cronicles of Riddick” at the Cardiff UCI cinema. Everything was perfect. Like watching it in my living room. (BTW, Vin Diesel kicks ass!) The ticket was about £5.50 IIRC.

Well, yeah, but driving to England represents a bit of a problem for us Texans.

Even ignoring the time factor.

My local theatre has none of these problems. They show no ads. I’ve seen people taken out of the theatre. I don’t truly know about the credits, as I leave as soon as they start. No, my complaint with my local theatre is the sound is’nt loud enough. I don’t know if it is because of my hearing or poor sound mixing by the studios, but I find myself straining to hear the movie too often. On The Bourne Supremacy for example.

I hear you on the commercials thing. I went to see Shrek 2 in London and I swear there were at least 15 minutes of commercials; not trailers, not quick promos, but out-and-out made-for-TV commercials. For the amount of money I paid, I don’t expect to sit through about the same number of commercials I’d have seen had I watched it on TV. And the commercials started five minutes after the movie time that was posted. What really pissed me off though, was on my flight back, guess what the in-flight movie was? And no commercials.

I had assumed, though, that it was a London thing, because I hadn’t had that problem in the US. Of course, I rarely go to the movies either.

For the most part I agree on the adverts. However, sometimes cinemas get to show adverts that were deemed “too racy” for TV or what-have-you, such as the Travelocity “air stewards” commercial, and, over here at least, there’s also the excellent “Orange Film Commission Board” adverts (such as the latest one with Sean Astin). As they have the tagline “Don’t let a mobile phone ruin your movie”, they wouldn’t work viewed anywhere else. The first time I saw that particular one was when I went to see Troy. It’s sad when an advert is more entertaining than the movie itself.

Oh, Og! I frequenlty find it the opposite and always bring earplugs to the theatre. The Matrix was litigiously loud – and I mean that literally. The sound levels were slightly above the threshold of pain at times (many audience members had to sit the entire movie with the fingers in their ears) which means that actual ear damage was likely occuring. The speakers couldn’t even take it and there was a lot of distortion and rumbling. I neer returned to that theatre.

What you may have been experiencing is either damage to the soundtrack or the film wasn’t aligned properly. The soundtrack is on a strips that runs down the side of the film strip (in the area where there is no image). The dialogue and sound effects are usually separate than the musical score (unless the technology has changed by now). I’ve seen movies where it’s obvious that the edges of the film had been munched like a tape in a bad tape player because you could hear the warbling sound.

We had that during LOTR - Two Towers. There track that had the dialogue was okay, but the music track was terrible with warbling throughout, so it sounded ridiculous and reminded me of those old film they’s show you in school where you had to manually turn to the next slide at the sound of the BEEP!

“BrRrUuUushSHsh yYoOuUr teeEEeeth wWiIth uUp aAnd ddowOWn – BOOP!”

For another flick (don’t remember which one) something was wrong with the dialogue track so the dialogue was really quiet but the music was so loud it would startle you so you’d jump right out of your seat!

Sometimes it the theatre’s fault, but sometimes they’ve just got a bad or damaged print (which is the post-production supervisor’s fault unless is at second run theatres, then all bets are off because it could have been damaged by a theatre that screened it previously.)

If the sound sucks throughout (rather than for just one reel) I would think it’s the theatre’s fault.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think it’s pretentious to call them “Theatres” instead of “Theaters” in the USA?

Pretention purely unintentional. I was taught to spell it that way.

Locally I have never had any problem with them doing anything before the end of the movie, like cleaning up.

And although I don’t like seeing commercials, necessarily, some theaters actually show them before the actual start time. And some of the theater pecific ones are fun to watch.

My main complaint is mostly with the patrons, but that is for one of the periodic “Shut Up! I’m Trying to Watch the Movie!” or “Shut Up your Three-Year Old!” or “Shut Up! Your Phone Call Isn’t That important!” threads.

I worked for almost three years in a theater and I agree with everything you said.

In this case, the “bad guys” are the theater suits that sit in their office and never venture down on the floor and see how things work. The schedule is often so tight that you have to get in and begin cleaning up immediately. I remember Bridget Jones’ Diary; opening weekend we had a total of 9 minutes to get 750 people out of the theater, clean up all the trash and get the next 750 people inside. That was for all the shows the entire opening weekend. Complain, complain. That’ll only help the poor employees. But do it in writing, don’t rant to some poor worker earning a lousy wage.

I am not going to go see any more movies because of the commercials that they now play. I may make one or two exceptions but that is it. In the old days they played cartoons, now they play commercials. I call that devolution.

I don’t go to movies any more because of idiot customers and the useless management.
Every movie I went to would have idiots that can’t go without talking on their fucking cell for 2 hours. I’m not even counting when someone forgets to turn off their phone and quickly shuts it up. I mean the morons that will have a fucking conversation while watching the movie. Then there are those assholes that will talk to their friends very loudly every other minute.
What really gets be is every time I’ve gone to complain to the mgnt they just shug.
At this point, fuck it. I’ll rent the damn things in a few months where I can watch them in peace

I think you should go in there and shout ‘FIRE!’, when it is crowded, naturally.

You really should address these complaints to the manager; maybe nothing will happen, but if enough people do it, he ought to see sense (or rather, see money walking out of the door).

In Los Angeles, we have a wonderful movie chain called Laemmle’s. They have reasonable ticket prices, older theaters (pros and cons there) and show a lot of first run independant films.

Not that independant films are all better than big budget hollywood schlock, but on average, I tend to enjoy them more, and feel disappointed less.

The last big budget movie I saw in a major chain cinema was Return of the King.

And here in Pasadena there are actually two Laemmle theaters… one of them right next to the best independant bookstore in the county (Vroman’s).

Happiness and joy!

This is the funniest thing in the thread to me.

(Well, except for that Travelocity commercial – that was HORRIBLE I loved it – but that’s not really “in the thread,” is it.)

I only have two nitpicks with the OP.

One is that rental on a film really isn’t any higher today. It’s a percentage of the gross and that percentage really hasn’t gone up.
The other thing is that I don’t think the theatres are trying to save money by ‘buying lower wattage bulbs’ or by ‘running less power’ to them. Rather they are trying to save money by not having professional union projectionists. They might have one come in once a week if your lucky. A projecto isn’t that complicated but taking the time to properly focus the light onto the screen, with even illumination across the screen and using a light meter to measure that you have the industry standard is not something the usher/projectionist knows how to do or even is alloted the hours to do it.