Movie Theaters

Twilight Texting in Theaters

Here’s some fun news to read after watching the trailer for Jason Reitman’s latest (see our post from earlier today). And by fun, I’m sure for many of you I should mean infuriating. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chinese cinemas are testing out a new system for interactive moviegoing where the audience is able to contribute to running commentary of the film on screen. The gimmick involves “bullet screens,” which are named such for the way the messages scroll across the movie, and it’s a concept that’s been around for a while online in Japan and more recently China. The new big screen version, though, can currently be found in 50 theaters in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and other cities, specifically at showings of the 3D animated feature The Legend of Qin. Why an animated feature? Because it’s mostly young people who are interested in the danmu craze, as bullet screens are called over there (danmaku in Japan), and because as THR relays from a translated Chinese publication, it’s “for younger viewers who can’t spend five minutes away from their tablet or phone.” That sounds like theater owners are both cashing in on a trend (each text sent to screen costs 10 cents) and perpetuating a new social problem that probably doesn’t need encouragement. This is the same country that, as shown in the new documentary Web Junkie, has enough of an issue with youths being addicted to the Internet that they’ve become the first in the world to label it a clinical disorder. Interestingly enough, the director of The […]

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500 Days of Summer Movie Theater Scene

When in-flight movies became popularized on commercial planes in the early 1960s, air travel was like riding in a movie theater in the sky. Now going to the movies is going to be like riding in an airplane on the ground. Cineplex has announced they’ll be testing a new service at their flagship theater in Toronto. And when I say a new service, I really mean to say it’s an old service just with a new service charge. The idea is to make center auditorium seating cost more to patrons, because that’s a favored spot. I guess. Personally I prefer aisle seats, especially at theaters with tighter space between rows. The only time I like to sit in the middle is at an IMAX show. Earlier today I saw a headline for this announcement and I immediately thought about how some airlines gouge their customers with added charges for a checked bag or for more leg room or for an aisle or window seat. Even though it’s the opposite on a flight — people prefer not to be in the middle — it sounded liked Cineplex was inspired by Spirit, for example, as they’re one of the worst offenders as far as taking something previously standard and tacking on a surcharge, especially if it’s liable to make the customer at all comfortable. I was rather surprised to find that the theater chain actually acknowledged an airline industry influence in their announcement. “It’s really about providing our guests with choices when they go to the movies,” […]

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true romance movie theater scene

Among the many complaints moviegoers (and also those who no longer movie-go) have about the theatrical experience, the expense involved is consistently near the top of the list. Some of that has to do with other ancillary costs like gas and babysitters while the concession racket is also substantial, but the price of tickets, which is the one thing you have to pay to get in the door of the auditorium, is something that people always seem to have a problem with. They’ll pay it, but they’ll let you hear about it if you’re working the box office on a Friday night. Even though I don’t have to pay for most of the movies I see (one of the perks of this job), I have to admit the price is pretty steep considering the gamble these days — not just regarding the quality of the feature but also the quality of your fellow audience members. I’ve always thought the idea of lowering prices or at least offering discount tickets is a good solution for movie theaters wanting to attract more customers, particularly on weeknights. It’s not an out of nowhere concept. Many chains have deals where you get cheaper tickets by buying them in bulk (often these are in turn sold cheaply to students or employees of large local companies), and others have tried designating a special night of the week (Tuesday is common) to either charge less for admission or do a two-for-one deal. Unfortunately, the discount tickets aren’t usually accepted […]

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Hollywood

All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in September 2011, Ashe Cantrell pulls back the curtain on the Hollywood conspiracy machine… You may already be a film industry cynic. Maybe you think Hollywood is a barren wasteland, devoid of creativity and originality. Maybe you’re sick of seeing talented people get ignored and vapid hacks get splashed all over the trades. Maybe you’re tired of 3D everything and having to re-buy your movies every five to ten years. I’m not here to dissuade you of any of that. Hell no, I’m here to make it worse. Get ready, because this is some of the rottenest shit of which the film industry is capable. These are the things so terrible that Hollywood has to cover them up, lest God see their sin and smite them accordingly (and keep various government entities and lawyers off their backs, of course). If you still had any kind thoughts toward Hollywood, I suggest you prepare yourself for crushing disappointment. But first, I’d like to give a very huge shout out and thank you to writers C. Coville and Maxwell Yezpitelok for their help on this article. You guys are great! And now back to the shit storm, already in progress:

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escape-bench

Yesterday a fight broke out over who is killing movie theaters. Throwing the first punch was Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who gave a keynote address at the Film Independent Forum in L.A. “I’m concerned that as theater owners try to strangle innovation and distribution, not only are they going to kill theaters, they might kill movies,” he said regarding the industry’s protest of VOD releases being day-and-date with theatrical openings. Soon after, National Association of Theatre Owners president/CEO John Fithian countered with a weak blow of: “Subscription movie services and cheap rentals killed the DVD business, and now Sarandos wants to kill the cinema as well.” As a former longtime employee of the movie theater industry, I can say with some certainty that the most lethal enemy of cinemas is cinemas themselves. Sure, there is a lot to say about the convenience of lazily staying home and clicking the remote on our cable box or Roku or Xbox or using our smarthphones or tablets to watch a brand new movie in our beds with no pants on. But at some point Fithian and the rest of NATO’s scapegoating curmudgeons need to realize that going to the movies isn’t necessarily about the movie on screen. It hardly has been for the better part of a century, in fact. Moviegoing is an experience. That’s what NATO should be focused on, and much of that focus will always be on pressuring its theater chain partners to maintain a better quality experience […]

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ritz thomaston

“Movie Houses of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, we highlight one theater that is in desperate need of saving. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor. Ritz Theatre Location: 114 S. Church Street, Thomaston, GA Opened: March 13, 1927 No. of screens: 1 Current first-run titles: Monsters University (The Lone Ranger replaces it on Wednesday) Somehow this column has become focused more and more on cinemas in need or already going out of business. It’s not that surprising, as independent movie theaters have long been struggling and now Hollywood’s abandonment of film prints is the last straw for a lot of movie houses. Fortunately there are crowdfunding sites to bring awareness to and donations from local communities that don’t want their historic venues to close. This week I’m showcasing a small town operation that I’ve personally never been to called the Ritz Theatre and Cafe. Located in Thomaston, GA, the place needs a full digital conversion costing $75,000.

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Holiday Gifts for Movie Lovers

It’s way too late to even mail order something for your movie-loving loved ones this holiday season. Do you arrive to your holiday gathering empty-handed to the disappointment of all? NEVER! Please consider the gift options below for any of the movie nerds in your life, which neither require shipping nor a long wait. Nor a trip to a shopping mall, which as you can imagine, might be a life-risking endeavor. You are liable to be trampled, after all…

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TampaTheatre01

“Movie House of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, guest submitter Michael Silva shares one of his favorite theaters. His comments are those quoted. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor.   Name: Tampa Theatre Location: 711 Franklin St., Tampa, FL Opened: October 15, 1926, designed by renowned movie palace architect John Eberson (he also did Austin’s Paramount Theatre). Nationally listed for landmark status and reopened in 1978. No. of screens: 1 Current first-run titles: Anna Karenina

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Every Sunday morning, I like to begin the day with a regular feature called Movie Houses of Worship. It doesn’t actually run every week, however, because I don’t receive enough submissions to make that happen. See, this feature requires help from our readers. I wish I had the time and money to travel the world checking out different cinemas (if you ever want to witness someone doing this, read Kevin Murphy’s “A Year at the Movies”). But I also don’t want the feature to be a review of theaters based on one-time visits. It’s intended for the places we attend regularly, as if these movie theaters were our regular house of religious worship. We all have preferred local cinemas, and I want you all to have the opportunity to share your experience(s) of being a longtime and loyal patron to these establishments. One day most movie theaters will be gone, so now is the chance to showcase your appreciation for any currently standing.

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“Movie House of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, I’m celebrating a new local favorite of mine, which could probably be substituted with many other lasting drive-ins around the U.S. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor.   Name: Starlight Six Drive-In Location: 2000 Moreland Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA Opened: 1947, as a single screen; became the Starlight Twin with the addition of a second screen in 1956; final four screens were added in 1983. No. of screens: 6 Current first run titles: Each screen has two titles, and these can be watched as a two-for-one double feature. This week’s most perfect pairings are Frankenweenie and Paranorman, Argo and The Bourne Legacy, and Hotel Transylvania and Here Comes the Boom. The other three are Looper and Resident Evil: Retribution, Sinister and Dredd, and Taken 2 and End of Watch.

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“Movie House of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, with help from guest cinephile Ellen Bliss, we look at an historic landmark cinema currently run not for profit. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor.   Name: The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre Location: 54 Journal Square, Jersey City, New Jersey Opened: September 28, 1929, as one of the state’s largest movie palaces. Reopened in 2001 for its current operation as a restored landmark and not-for-profit cinema and special event venue. For a history of the ups and downs of the building, see the theater’s website. No. of screens: 1 (with a balcony-adorned auditorium seating more than 3,000) Current first run titles: None. The Loew’s Jersey is no longer a first-run movie theater. Repertory programming: Classics and second-run independents are the usual fare for the cinema, such as this weekend’s special showings of Marnie, Dr. No and Goldfinger. However, the programming appears to be on special occasion at the moment rather than daily. Special Events: Movies are not the only offering here, and one highlighted special event of the future is a weekend-long festival of live theater and other performance pieces called STAGEfest, which happens in March of 2013. Concerts, weddings and other events are held here on a special or rented-out basis.

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Her name is Wanda. Specifically, the Dalian Wanda Group, which just bought out AMC Entertainment Holdings for $2.6b. I’m guessing the card that gets me free movies for a year just expired. Not only is this the biggest Chinese-led buyout of an American-owned company in history, the deal also makes Wanda the biggest movie theater chain on the planet. That also means there’s no way to hyperbolize this. Wanda, which operates 730 screens (as well as corporate plazas, five-star hotels, department stores and karaoke centers) will take over AMC’s 346, officially making it the biggest. According to MSN Money, AMC was the #2 theater chain in the US behind Regal with $2.5b in sales, although the company has struggled to lose a large amount of debt it’s been carrying. Meanwhile, according to their website, Wanda has assets totaling $31b with an annual income of $17b. As movie fans, none of the numbers matter. What matters is the future of the theater chain. As of now, Wanda hasn’t announced any structural changes, but it’ll be interesting to see if they eventually decide to alter the audience experience in any meaningful way. In the meantime, let’s all laugh at the hilarious xenophobia of the MSN comments section.  

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Boiling Point

Recently at CinemaCon, Amy Miles, the chief executive officer of Regal Entertainment, birthed the idea that movie theaters should maybe consider allowing texting at certain types of movies – basically movies that asshole teens would most likely be seeing. With great and obvious reasons, everyone got up in a tiff over the statement. Tim League, CEO of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which has a famously hard-line stance against phone usage during screenings, responded appropriately: “Over my dead body will I introduce texting into the movie theater.” Granted, if you text during a movie, you’re an asshole, but is it really the worst thing in the world?

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At a Regal Cinema in Rensselaer, New York, the price for a regular showing of The Lorax is $7.75 while the price for the 3D version of the movie is $13.75. That’s a considerable up-charge, and it’s one that consumers and film fans have gotten used to. Either you swallow the bitter pill of renting plastic glasses for an addition six bucks or you stick with the traditional 2D model to avoid the headache. Now, according to Joe Paletta, the CEO of Spotlight Theaters – a regional theater that has a handful of operations in Georgia, one in Connecticut and one in Florida – has written a brief piece for Screen Trade Magazine in which he states that they’ll most likely be folding the price of 3D tickets into the regular ticket prices. “Among the bigger changes will probably see the 3D-upcharge disappear. 3D charges will help increase the overall ticket-price but, as an industry, I think we’ll see a blend begin to emerge in 2012, where patrons will have a single price for both 2D and 3D films. 2D prices will increase and 3D prices will decrease.” My emphasis there is meant to spotlight the reality of the situation. What this means is that instead of paying $14 for 3D tickets or $8 for 2D tickets, everyone will end up paying $11 per ticket to split the difference. Now, clearly this won’t be across the board change, and Spotlight isn’t a giant outfit but it’s certainly an idea that […]

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Boiling Point

Before you go getting some silly idea like me believing in some silly idea like love, let me clear this up: this isn’t about the love between a man and a woman, a man and a fine cigar, and a fat kid and his chocolate cake. That’d be too easy. The price of those are heartbreak, oral cancer, and diabetes. No, this is about a love we all share, everyone of us reading this site and writing for it. This is about a love of cinema and, tragically, the extreme cost of it. Going to the theater is a great experience. Unless you’re a millionaire, the theater offers a gigantic screen, booming sound, and stadium seating. Watching Transformers on the big screen knocks the robotic pants off of watching it at home no matter how big your Samsung is. All of that is great – but is it worth the astronomical price?

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