The State Of British Cinemas

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streetrw
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The State Of British Cinemas

Post by streetrw » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:42 pm

As per Voor's blog which went up today:

I have to agree on the appalling state of the Cineworld Trocadero. Not so much the ambience of the place itself (although that doesn't help) but the low level of quality control in the projection department. I am fed up of having to constantly leave the cinema in the first 30 seconds of the film to find some clueless drone and inform that the film's badly projected in some way, and indeed it's rare to find a screening which isn't being messed up somehow. With regard to the Cineworld Troc, that means belting down two or three flights of stairs.

Righteous Kill was started off in the wrong ratio entirely. Mesrine Part One was started off without sound and with the house lights full on. Dr Parnassus was shown at such low volume I had to go and demand it be turned up. Countless films are shown too high or too low on the screen so either subtitles are off the bottom or the top of the image is visible at the bottom of the screen. No Country For Old Men was shown out of focus despite having informed the blueshirted gonks outside. It should be obvious from the trailer reel - and it always is, every time - that it's not wrong but they will never fix it until it's actually the film that's badly projected. I really shouldn't be having to do that in an allegedly professional organisation. What's really sickening is that no-one else appears willing to complain: they sit there, unable to see the subtitles, unable to make out the image because they haven't turned the house lights off, and meekly accept it.

All it needs is for one employee to stand there at the start of every screening and just tell the projectionist how to finetune the image. Even better would be for the projectionist to do it themselves. Sadly, in most multiplexes they've got one or two people up there for all ten or fifteen screens and they're constantly starting and stopping the procedures by simply pressing control buttons. In fairness, it's not their fault: the projection problems are a system weakness of the modern methods. But in the whole of the six years I went to my local two-screen Granada I think I had to tell them once - once - that the movie was out of focus.

My most recent annoyance has been with the house lights not being switched off. Turned down, but they're still bright enough for me to read the idiotic house magazine by - and I've been told this is due to health and safety legislation in case some halfwit trips over and sues them. Frankly, I'm calling bull**** on that one. Many other cinemas - including some Cineworlds - manage with the house lights off. It's a cinema, it's supposed to be dark. If you fall over and hurt yourself, it's your own fault. I've done it myself. Know why? Because I couldn't see where I was going properly and didn't take care. House lights - specifically a faulty one - has been my repeated complaint against the Cineworld Haymarket 3 (their big screen is fine), where the purple filter on the ceiling safety light has broken, exposing a standard 60W bulb which is on the entire time; a major nuisance if you happen to be seated right next to it. "It's supposed to be like that," they said, which is patent rubbish. What they mean is they can't be arsed to climb a stepladder and put a new filter on it.

At £10.40 a ticket it just isn't good enough. Okay, I and many others have the Cineworld Card which absorbs much of the costs, to the extent that if I didn't have the card I really wouldn't bother. The Troc also annoys me by having open masking - everything's shown on a wide screen whether it's in that ratio or not, so that there are vast areas of unused screen. Apparently it's the way it's done in France (where UGC originated), which is no excuse - so is driving on the right, surrendering to the Germans and regarding Jerry Lewis as a cultural icon but that's no reason to do it here.
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Re: The State Of British Cinemas

Post by rawshark » Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:13 pm

100% agree with you there on Cineworld Trocadero Street..

We saw Centurion there which was horribly out of focus for a good 20 minutes, as was The Losers and (to a slightly lesser extent) Hot Tub Time Machine...

Also completely agree on the crazy lighting situation and having lights on during a screening! I really miss the days when it's pitch black apart from the film itself lighting the cinema..
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Re: The State Of British Cinemas

Post by Satans Puppy » Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:30 pm

The worst thing about noticing house lights being too bright is once you do, they constantly have your attention as they're a source of irritation.

Went to a retro screening of SCREAM last week and the house lights were rather bright but not only that... an hour into the film it skipped back 45 mins and the odeon wouldn't actually try and resume from where the print skipped, apparently "It was another scene spliced in, so the audience were getting extra"

Urrrr yes...

DOH!!!

we got a refund!
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Re: The State Of British Cinemas

Post by streetrw » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:18 pm

In fairness, what I have found is that digital projection is much better. I was at Cineworld Milton Keynes for The Killer Inside Me last night and the film required no adjustments: it was in focus, correctly gauged and in the right ratio. If it had been on 35mm there's a 50/50 chance they would have messed it up.
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Re: The State Of British Cinemas

Post by krispyg » Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:42 pm

To be fair the only cineworld I have been to is in Glasgow and that was ok, in Manchester I normally go to AMC on Deansgate or if they have it on, then The Cornerhouse.

Cinema trips are few and far between due to work shifts atm and the fact that there has been nothing of late to truly capture my interest.
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Re: The State Of British Cinemas

Post by odishon » Tue Jun 15, 2010 8:26 pm

Completely agree with all the comments on Cineworld. The last film I saw at the Troc one was Orphan last year. The house lights remained up for the first ten minutes of the film, people were still allowed in half an hour into the film.

Also agree with the 'running commentary' comments and the fact that cinemas are now an extension of people's living rooms.

I have noticed that when seeing 3D films at the IMAX it is a glimpse back to the 'old days' where the film was an event and people sat and watched in silence. Maybe 3D will bring back some of the magic of going to the cinema, we'll see. I know the jury is still out on 3D for most people.

For now I have found my own solution. I'm very lucky to work every other weekend and work very long twelve and half hour shifts. 'Lucky?' you say, well this means I get two to three days off in the week which means I can pop along to Clapham Picture House and be the only person or one of three people in a large screen, bliss...

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Re: The State Of British Cinemas

Post by gregjames » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:58 pm

My thoughts on this are the same as pretty much everyone else. For me, cinema-going has become something I only tend to do with FF mates. This is a big change for me as cinema-going has been something I've done solo for years. *Insert suitable double entendre here*

I think the change has come about because if the visit isn't part of a social night out I can't be bothered. The number of times I've been to see a film on my own and come out feeling fleeced, not necessarily because it was a bad film, but because of the overall experience has gone up a lot in the last couple of years. At least if it's part of a gathering with the usual suspects, I know there's going to be some banter and a few pints afterwards if the cinema performs below par.

Though, as an aside, my best crappy experiences have been in the big Showcase cinema by Wood Green station. Two occasions of rats running loose in the cinema. One occasion of the bulb in the projector blowing and thus no film.

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Re: The State Of British Cinemas

Post by MaxRenn » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:26 am

There isn't really any debate here is there, the standard UK multiplex is the drive through Maccy D's of cinema. I'd rather have an old fashioned fleapit.
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Re: The State Of British Cinemas

Post by iomega » Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:47 am

Evrim,

Sorry it has taken me so long to actually sit down and read your latest blog. A very interesting read. Rest assured I will be putting the fear of god into anyone who can't turn off their phones this year at FrightFest.

Back in the day when I first got into "going to the pictures" as we said in Dundee, where I come from, there where 29 cinemas still open in the early 70s. Films arrived in town an played at the ABC or the Odeon and then worked their way down through the rest of the cinemas over the following couple of weeks. Nothing played longer than a week and by the time the films ended up at my local, the Astoria, the prints where run to death. The presentation even by the standard of my local Cineworld at Feltham, which is not the best, was woful. The cheap seats 1/6 (7p) were wooden benches and even the dear seats 2/- (10p) weren't much better. The cinema didn't finally close until 1982. Amazing it survived so long.

I used to go every Monday night regardless of what was on. This was where I saw my first horror films -a double bill re-release of The Mummy and Bride of Frankenstein.

Anyway no real point to make here, just a trip down memory lane and perhaps as much as you want to complain about cinemas today, they are much, much better than they used to be.

Keep posting you blogs and making us think.

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Re: The State Of British Cinemas

Post by krispyg » Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:13 pm

Old style cinemas are still my preference, modern multiplexes are all the same and very little differentiates between them, give me old fashioned anyday. I remember in Blackpool having an Odeon (now Funny Girls cross dressing cabaret show/club) and also an ABC / Cannon which is now the Syndicate nightclub.

That said I do enjoy the cinema, love wishing away the ads, picking through the trailers to see what I want to see next and the excitement as the lights go down and the main feature kicks in. Maybe I still remember the magic from my childhood, double bills such as Neverending Story and Flight Of The Navigator or watching and singing along to The Labyrinth.

The only thing I can say in regard to multiplexes is to see a film at a time that suits me which is good when I have an afternoon to myself.
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Re: The State Of British Cinemas

Post by soulmining » Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:41 pm

Excellent piece from Evrim. I'm sure many things have improved for cinemagoers over the past few decades, I think the problem is with *us* the cinemagoers and the climate that we live in today - which as Evrim rightly says, for many, the cinema is viewed as an extension of your living room. Indeed, why is that disruption of any kind at the theatre is strictly frowned upon, yet time and time again allowed to pass without action at the cinema?

With reference to my own local Cineworld in Brighton, its most recent development is closing the ticket counters during the day and making everyone buy their tickets from the concession stand. So now I have to wait for people to order buckets of popcorn and barrels of coke before I can get a ticket to a film... (and don't get me started, but who really wants to eat a bucket of Cineworld popcorn at 11.30am in the morning??) :evil:

Also, all the comments you made about the poor projection/lighting etc. hold true for this Cineworld too. I'm sure there's one screen that is permanently out of focus, and they're always screening stuff in the wrong ratio...
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