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Old May 3rd, 2005, 06:24 AM   #16
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God, I hate Steven Sodenberg.

His movies aren't all that.

His awards I don't think are warranted.

And now the guy wants to basically start a movement that could lead to the destruction of the sacred movie viewing place . . . the theater. I'm sorry folks, maybe I'm just getting old, but if theaters become extinct, my desire to create movies will be cut in half. What is waiting for a release but to see it on the big screen? It's not near the experience at home. You have a much smaller screen that won't drag you into the show as easily, and you don't have the energy of the crowd with you. I think releasing flicks at the same time as in theaters will kill theaters, and man, there will be those of us whose lives will be forever changed. I remember Freak'n conceited James Cameron being asked what he thought of the high ticket prices and he said he didn't care at all, because people will always need to go to the movies and they will always pay whatever price you charge.

"We must move on" my butt. Into what? Our livingrooms with yet another rented DVD? Don't we spend enough time there? People as arrogant as Cameron or as art destructive as Sodenberg (loved that mini-dv classic called Full Frontal) are going to destroy movies entirely.

I remember a great theater called the "Northpark Screen I" in Dallas, Texas about 8 years ago now. It was dubbed by many as the best theater in the country. George Lucas would personally fly to this screen to test his new Star Wars films on. The first movie I ever saw on that screen was Die Hard of all things. I don't think I was ever so moved by a filmgoing experience. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought I was caught in Nokotomi Plaza myself (the die hard building). From then on, whenever I wanted to impress a girl, I'd wait until that theater was showing something visually impressive. Without fail, my date would tell me she'd never seen a movie that way in her life and can't wait to go back to that theater.

. . . in 1998 the North park Screen I was mowed down to build a Foley's.

The memories of that theater are so sweet I could almost cry. These huge chain theaters with their lesser quality were bad enough taking over, but now, if theaters dissappear completely? Where will the excitement be?

. . . I believe that the same DVD/theater release date will seriously endanger what we love the most. I sure hope they don't screw this up . . . and the lives of those of us that aspire to see our film on a big public screen . . . forever.
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 06:36 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Laurence Maher
And now the guy wants to basically start a movement that could lead to the destruction of the sacred movie viewing place . . . the theater.
Actually, the cinema chains, at least in the UK, are beating him to it. There used to be a time when going to the cinema was an event, seeing films on the big screen. But so many of the newer multiplexes have such tiny screens that, if you're sitting at the back, it's not much bigger than your TV screen.

At least at home you don't get charged through the nose for a cola and 'dog!
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 07:00 AM   #18
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I have actually worked at a movie theater before, a privately-owned theatre with one screen. They used the platter system (which I think must theaters use now), and I wasn't nearly as horrified as you were by what I saw. For the most part, everything seemed pretty well in order. The film was not spliced together by a incompetent drunk, but rather by a trained employee (I wasn't allowed to do this) or by the owner himself. I will acknowledge that films come to different theatres in different forms, and the longer it takes to get to a theatre, the more manipulated the film will be; but this doesn't always mean that some greedy theatre owner wanted to shave off 10 minutes to make an extra buck. Often the splicing and unsplicing necessitates cutting off 10 of so frames, which means that the more times it is put back together and taken apart, the more warped it becomes. This is a problem, but I don't think it is very serious.

I don't doubt that horrendous conditions exist in the way certain theatres handle the films that come to them, but I honestly don't think you should be mounting an attack on independent theatres, who still show us small, difficult films that the major, corporate chains won't touch, lest they hurt their bottom line. To speak of the "distributors" and the "studios" is also too tidy in that most of the major studio's own some stake in one of the large movie theatre chains around the country. Having all the theatres owned by the same 3 or 4 companies (not far from where we are today), which would allow for a standardization of exhibition conditions, would also force a standardization of the kinds of films we see.

I don't think digital is the answer for new standards of exhibition. Even if movies are projected digitally, there will still be theatre owners who skirt the rules, for good and for bad. But I do think digital projection (in that it cuts down on costs) does offer some exciting possibilities for independent film distribution to independent theatres. For a smaller film, the costs of prints can be staggering, and digital projection offers the possibility of eliminating that, while vastly expanding the variety of films we are able to see.

I agree with Laurence that Soderberg's plan seems like a move away from theatres, which I think is the wrong direction. Why not experiement with the capabilities digital projection offers smaller, independent theatres?

Side-note: About silver in film prints, I don't think many film prints contain contain much silver; but as Robert noted, it is necessary for a true, deep, dark black during projection. David O. Russell insisted on these true blacks in "Three Kings", so the prints contained a much higher percentage of silver, and were therefore more expensive.

Last edited by Joel Guy; May 3rd, 2005 at 11:18 AM.
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 11:18 AM   #19
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The communal experience of cinema. Yeah right! That's why everyone uses the bus and public transport. Crowds stopped being fun 30 years ago when people lost their manners.
Reasons why I don't go to the cinema anymore:
1. The cost
2. Arranging the trip/finding the time
3. The seats
4. Other people's kids
5. The low availability of decent films
6. The price of all the add-ons (food & drink)
7. It will be on TV next year and DVD for the same price before Xmas.

I still don't think his plan will work until he decides whether he is making the film for the multiplexes, the TV or Broadband and charges appropriately.
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 12:46 PM   #20
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Wow, I didn't know things were that bad out there...While I only go to the theaters 4-6 times a year, I just don't hear and see all the things everyone's complaining about...Cell Phones, virtually never... Out of focus, Usually fixed quite rapidly, but rarely an issue...Screaming kids, rarely a problem, as I can't stand to see the movies parents will take those kids to...

Maybe it's because I'm in Seattle, and people here are rumored to be polite, but loud obnoxious people are simply not the issue for us.

We do go to the movies as an event, and are very selective as to what we will spend our family bucks on. Movies are very expensive, and I don't need to waste valuable money and time on some of the re-tread movies or politics that Hollywood offers.

One of our local billionaires (Paul Allen) in fact bought our local Cinerama theater a couple years ago, spent millions upgrading the seats, screen, projection, etc, with the thought that he wanted to keep the single screen theater alive. (As part of his projection offerings, I believe he installed complete digital capabilities, which I don't think has been used yet. ) For a true event, we go to this theater, which almost always involves HUGE lines circling the building, and almost always sold out screenings.

If you come to the Seattle area, and like the movies, it's certainly worth going to.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 01:42 AM   #21
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"Reasons why I don't go to the cinema anymore:

1. The cost
2. Arranging the trip/finding the time
3. The seats
4. Other people's kids
5. The low availability of decent films
6. The price of all the add-ons (food & drink)
7. It will be on TV next year and DVD for the same price before Xmas."

Not to knock on you personally, these are just my arguments:

1. The cost (can't argue much there---the big whigs did that one to themselves, and deserve the cutback in audience, the bloodsuckers. But if it's a movie I REALLY want to see (like 3 times a year), I'm willing to pay for myself and my girl. You might try matinees on the weekend.

2. Arranging the trip/finding the time---What? Man, I live for movies, it's what I want to do with my life. I look forward to managing time to go. Now maybe managing a family is one thing, but I don't have one. Any "die hard filmmaker" who doesn't want to arrange the time to enjoy what he "loves" puts himself into the next category down of "general audience", IMHO.

3. The seats---get there a bit early. You do for work, right? Other things, yes?

4. Other people's kids: Only bothered me a couple of times in my whole life. Maybe my general area is different than yours.

5. Low availability of decent films---Absolutely no arguements there. Hollywood cranks out pieces of crud most of the time. But I'd like to see the rare good ones in a theater.

6. The price of all the add-ons---Don't buy them. I almost NEVER do. Heck, for that matter, just sneek a candy bar and coke in via your girlfriend's/wife's purse. I always carry a backpack in. No one cares. Or, fill up on dinner and desert before the flick.

7. It will be on TV next year and on DVD for the same price before XMAS---

Okay, here's the big one, man. Really try to take no offense, I don't mean it personally, however . . . LAME. Let's watch something on TV with all the language cut out, some scenes entirely changed, limited vilolence and all that, not to mention commercials, because THAT way, we'll really see what the filmmaker intended. Oh, DVD you say? No problem. Just cut that screen size down there to 1/3 . . . wait a minute . . . okay, 1/10 . . . I mean . . . Awww heck, let's just listen to the freak'n radio. Given the right movie, the difference between theater and home viewing is a MAGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE. Now, the Star Wars films suck right now anyway, so it may not be a good example, but . . . take a Star Wars film, say. You really think you're gonna get the magnitude of the effects and stuff on a small screen? Answer: No.

Personally, it doesn't surprise me that many think this way. Society seems to be heading more and more towards us all just being hooked via brain transmitter to whatever media we want, but come on guys, is this really how we want to live our lives as filmmakers? Our only chance to get our work seen by our audience is them shifting through channels or internet or video stores? Indie films will NEVER be noticed in that fashion. When a film is showing in a theater, it gives it a type of integrity that (wheather the film was good or not), it actally is playing in a theater. With that integrity gone, films like Blair Witch become nothing, just another box on a shelf you've never heard of. That will be you with your greatest work my friend, audienceless, save for your friends and family patting you on the back and telling you how much the last 2 hours spent watching your film made your 2 years of work all worthwhile.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 07:10 AM   #22
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I love theatres, as Laurence said: it's just the plain exitement of going to a sacred place of watching movies on a big screen. BUT... with the costs of these days, I go to theatres just at very few times...
Really I love it, but I read an article about a research they had done (in The Netherlands) that tickets have become 44% more expensive!
C'mmon, if you do that, AND ask ridicoulously high prices for a popcorn and a coke, then don't come b*tching you don't see any folk anymore.

Theatres should be comfortable, with little popcorns and cokes but not the whole complete almost food-industry they have become now.
THEN, people went every weekend to the theatre, it was a tradition. But now... now...

(PS, off-topic: the same can be told about Hollywood: it has become an industry that has a true lack of real emotion and feeling. Look at all their remakes of Asian movies, it's just become laughable. Now I heard they are going to remake Old Boy too. Every time a foreign movie that's really good appears, you can already tell: Hollywood will make a remake that won't top the original - only a few times they do, but last time it's just a trend of remakes. They don't make anything original anymore, it seems)
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Old May 4th, 2005, 07:21 AM   #23
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I will say this: I miss the "excitement" I felt as a kid watching a James Bond movie on the big screen. Man oh man... I can remember my heart pounding during the pre-credits sequence and listening to how the sound echoed throughout the theatre. I know those days are gone because I see things through jaded adult eyes and th etheatre does not hold that type of excitement for me any more (plus the things I added in my earlier post). I am definitely content watching my movies in the comfort and peace of my living room, eating the snacks I want to eat.
Interesting, if true. And interesting anyway.

Last edited by Hugh DiMauro; May 4th, 2005 at 07:24 AM. Reason: Change notification type
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Old May 4th, 2005, 07:22 AM   #24
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Perhaps movie theaters will become like stage theatres.

Independent movies will play to small houses, like local theatre, and tickets will cost about $20.

Huge movies will play in a few huge houses, like Broadway-type, and tickets will cost $40-$200 a seat.

Though... I guess not because you can't rent a live performance to watch at home.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 07:41 AM   #25
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Well, given the varied responses to this thread, it seems clear that some prefer the theater experience, and some prefer watching something at home.

Sounds to me like this distribution model is going to find an audience no matter what. The ramifications will be interesting to see.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 09:19 AM   #26
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Digital projection can be quite nice. No scratches.

I saw a leading-edge (TI/DLP) projection of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in Manhattan last week. The image quality was pretty good--it's the best I've seen, for digital. And certainly it was cleaner than most film projections. But it didn't make up for the fact that the film was just OK.

A couple of days later I saw half of Trainspotting on a friend's TV, a TV that happened to have a Y-axis deflection problem that distorted the image. I still found it twice as compelling and satisfying as watching HHGTTG. Cause Trainspotting is a better movie, and no amount of fancy projection can change that.

A well-projected, well-made film is fantastic. It's better than anything I've seen projected digitally so far. A badly-projected film is pretty awful, and I imagine switching to digital will eliminate a lot of projection defects just because the system has fewer moving parts and doesn't degrade in the same way.

I still haven't seen anything projected digitally that matched the beauty of a film like Million Dollar Baby. Not to say it won't happen. But I sure hope we'll still have movie theatres. Despite the feeble-minded idiot that sat next to me mumbling throughout the film when I saw it, I still loved the size of the image and the emotional intensity and the sense of communion. It's something I almost always experience when I watch a movie in a movie theatre. I'd sure as hell miss it, and no suburban living room--even with a 5' screen--can ever match it.

Michael Bernstein, actor & film maker.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 11:13 AM   #27
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Then you'll get underground theatres with people who DO in fact project digitally, on big screens, and offer popcorn and such at a low price, and then it will become illegal, and there will be theatre-gangs, fighting each other,...
Okay, I need more sleep, I know.

I don't think theatres will ever go away, but they will have to change their policies (and prices!) if they want to keep having people.
(Little movie theatres, playing more alternative movies are already a step forward: low prices, no food industry, still the old atmosphere -sometimes - ...)
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Old May 4th, 2005, 12:59 PM   #28
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Maybe since the focus of going to a theater will shift completely to the theater-going experience, theaters will get a bit more creative in their viewing environments. Austin has some great venues... an outdoor theater with benches and grocery store bag-size popcorn, theater in the park on a grassy hillside and also by a lagoon, at the Alamo Drafthouse (cinema's equivalent to microbreweries will be microcinemas with their own productions), the Paramount theater which is a revised turn-of-the-century theater where drinks are served.

I, for one, would like to see more places to view movies in a grown up environment where you're not sitting elbow to elbow... where you can sip gin and tonics, maybe have a nice meal, and settle back in comfy chairs that aren't stacked practically on top of each other.

But in some cases, our litigious nature is what's holding us back. I wanted so see about projecting classic films on the wall of a building in a park, but by the time I paid the event liability insurance and the mandatory EMS and police standbys, it would've wound up being more expensive than going to the theater.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 02:44 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by John Locke
I wanted so see about projecting classic films on the wall of a building in a park, but by the time I paid the event liability insurance and the mandatory EMS and police standbys, it would've wound up being more expensive than going to the theater.
Hey John!

Funny you should mention this. The City of Chicago sponsors just such a series of screenings literally across the street from my home. It's been a very popular program! Folks make evenings of it, having family picnic dinners out in Butler Field while they watch these wonderful vintage films. Yes, all of these films are widely available on home video. But there is just something about watching them on a big screen in a community environment on a warm summer night that makes for a very different experience than home video.

This will be the 3rd year for this program. Here's a link to last year's line-up:

(I live atop that tall building near the center of that photo...convenient!)
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Old May 4th, 2005, 04:04 PM   #30
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I'm with Laurence... I think DVD as it is kills a lot of Cinema audiencies (simply because a lot of people decide to wait for the DVD release), and if we go the way Sodeberg wants us to, then Cinema will be dead very soon.

I think watching a film in the Cinema is great; Sure it has its drawbacks, mostly to do with obnoxious, uneducated people that go watch a film and decide to speak troughout its entirety, but those are usually a hand full. Just move off your seat and find somewhere else to seat, I'd rather not to, but sometimes you're left with no chance.

I also agree Sodenberg is sh*t. His best film is Sex, Lies & Videotapes, and it's hardly a great film, just 'good'. Traffic was boring and the acting from Douglas and Jones was embarrissing; I won't even mention Erin Brockovich (it's crap). Cannes made him big, but he still stinks.

Update the projection system if you want, but don't distribute films simultaneously onto Cinema, DVD and PvP. Instead, Sodenberg should be worried why Hollywood allows Directors like him to produce mindless garbage all the time. It's the content that should change, above all the rest.
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Last edited by Ken Tanaka; May 4th, 2005 at 04:32 PM. Reason: "Family-friendliness"
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