sarcasticwriter: (MST3K)
[personal profile] sarcasticwriter
I just emailed this to Regal Theaters corporate.

I am a major movie buff. I see between 40-50 movies in theaters a year. I believe the movie theater is the ideal way to view movies, with a picture and sound quality on a scale far superior to what can be viewed on TV. No movie is "best on DVD." Every movie is improved by the theater-going experience, even despite environmental irritations like audience members texting.

Or, that's how I used to feel.

I was terribly disappointed with the projection quality of Anonymous, an historical drama set largely in gloomy British castles with naturalistic lighting. Within the first few minutes of the film, I realized that its projection was much too dim. There was no nuance or depth in the film's many shadows; dark areas of the screen, which should have been rich with texture, were a flat black. I found myself squinting during interior scenes, trying to see the detail that I know from my vast film-going experience SHOULD be there, but wasn't.

Then I looked back at the projection booth and my heart sank when I saw two stacked beams of light and realized we were watching the film through a 3D projector with its 3D lens still in place. Had I been alone, I would have immediately returned my ticket and added the film to my Netflix queue, as I have many times in the past. But this time, I was with a friend, so I had to suffer through the entire movie, knowing that this beautiful, lush, melodrama was being visually strangled by its projection.

At the end of the movie, I spoke to Michael, the manager on duty. He couldn't have been nicer or more understanding, and he stated that projection dimness is a complaint he hears "frequently." He provided me with a list of the theaters with 3D projectors in the building and advised me to call ahead to ensure that the film I'm planning on seeing isn't in one of the 3D theaters. He also insisted on giving me a readmission ticket, even though I initially declined.

That's helpful, and he was clearly using all the tools he possessed to help his customers, but it isn't acceptable. The only thing movie theaters have going for them over HDTV with Blu-ray is the scale of picture and sound. But when the picture fails, the whole experience of going to a movie theater fails. This isn't my first experience with a Regal theater using a 3D projector to improperly project a 2D film, but I hope it'll be one of the last.

Please consider mandating that 2D films be projected through 2D projectors, or consider buying projectors that have easily removable 3D lenses. Please bright back the brightness to 2D movies. You run a promo in your theaters that shrinks the images on the screen to the size of a TV in order to demonstrate the superiority of large scale, but if you don't properly light what's on the screen, that promo becomes only sadly ironic.

Please, don't drive me away from my favorite hobby by giving me an experience inferior to my 32-inch TV at home.



Of course I realize that one letter doesn't influence corporate policy, but somebody has to tell theater companies that yes, the audience can tell when there's something wrong with the picture. Even if they're not consciously aware of it, or they're attributing it to the film instead of the projection (as my friends and family have done), they know that something's wrong, and that the movie-going experience just ain't what it used to be.

If you've experienced a dimly-projected film recently, please complain to both the onsite theater management and their corporate entity. Roger Ebert wrote an post on the subject of projection dimness earlier this year that breaks down the problem.


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July 2012

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