When Cinemas Go Wrong
Posted on Monday September 10, 2007, 11:03 by Kat Brown in Empire States
As a rule I don’t scare easily. No, wait that’s a complete lie, I scare extremely easily, but ordinarily this tends to be stuff like spiders, bananas or Helen when Hugh Jackman’s name is mentioned. Let me tell you now that there is nothing – nothing – scarier than an opening night Atonement audience confronted by technical failure.
While people chucking food and talking are generally annoying, they're not scary unless the knives come out. It's the sheer unexpectedness of polite old Middle England rearing up and showing its teeth that's weird, like that story about the cat treeing a bear. Coming back from a popcorn trip after the usual arse-breaking half hour of adverts, the place was laughing in that patronising way generally used to indicate someone else’s failings, in this case the lack of sound accompanying the opening scenes.
People who’d read the book took to shouting out warnings like, "Don’t watch this bit, it’s pivotal" while everyone else tried to look away, and failed. In the same anti-social manner of televisions in pubs, it’s utterly impossible not to look at a screen when it’s in your eyeline, and that gets even trickier when that screen is taking up the whole wall. When the sound kicked back in, a chorus of "Honestly"s and "Oh-but-this-is-ridiculous"es announced the twin circles of hell of not looking and having to keep your ears shut.
As it became clear that the film was not going to stop, we escaped outside to find the manager surrounded by Decent Sorts pelting him with irate questions about stopping the film, rewinding and – because some Britishness is just too deeply rooted – refunds and appropriate compensation. As more and more cinemagoers added their two cents, it was as though 28 Weeks Later had collided with the Telegraph letters page. When the apocalypse comes, the zombies will say, not "Aeeeuurrgh" but "Really, this is just absurd."
The manager explained that it was impossible to rewind or even stop the film due to that age-old problem, "the bobbin is caught in the window", before sacrificing his get-out-of-here-alive card by suggesting that he continue the film and play the opening scenes at the end.
"Rubbish," said a pony tailed intellectual. "If I go to an art exhibition I want to see the whole thing at once, not just bits of it."
By now the manager had backed up the stairs and fled, leaving behind the sounds of, "Well, aren’t you going to tell the cinema?" and "Honestly, could I have a go at fixing it, it can’t be that hard". Of course, there’s one cure-all fix for British zombies, and that’s queues. By the time everyone was lined up waiting for their refunds, the crowd had quietened to a mutinous rumble. Some stereotypes are more enduring than others.
Quite apart from the enjoyable rarity of seeing Middle England losing its cherished sang-froid, it struck me how strange that, with an audience of £10 a pop, Odeon hadn’t checked their opening night stock beforehand. I mean seriously, if you’re using film reels instead of digital, it makes sense to have a projectionist who's awake, or at least there to stop it if things go wrong. The majority of us don't know a film canister from our elbow and when we're forking out upwards of a tenner, should we really have to?
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Posted on Monday September 10, 2007, 12:33
If the projection at the Odeon you describe is anything like the projection at the multiplexes in Sheffield which I frequent, the odds are that an untrained 18 year old kid is flicking a bunch of switches and doesn't have the first clue about keeping the film in focus, synching-up sound, etc.
I have a friend who used to work in a multiplex and was called upon to operate projection in screens - he rarely had the first clue about what he was supposed to be doing.
Your Odeon experience suggests, yet again, that as long as we put up with crap cinema screenings, the likes of Cineworld, Vue et al will have no reason to improve things.
Posted on Monday September 10, 2007, 12:54
I honestly believe that your experience reflects the calumnious decent of the worlds society. Adopting Lazy attitudes and the 'it's not my problem' 'shit happens' favourite. This happened to me when i went to see Mission Impossible quite a few years back. The film played backwards for a total of 10 minutes before something was done about it! they refused to start it again or even give an explanation.
The problem is young people just don't care for jobs as much as their predecessors. There is no discipline. They work for booze and rent money. This is coming from a 22 year old as well! hmmm, im trying to think of something savy to finish this off but i could honestly rant all day at the forever increasing failings of todays 'decent society'
Posted on Monday September 10, 2007, 12:57
Oh, and i saw Atonement at the weekend. I thought it was brilliant, only wish you had seen it without any mishap.
Posted on Monday September 10, 2007, 12:59
The advent of digital projection has solved a lot of the film-related cockups at cinemas, but you still get films that start in the wrong aspect ratio or have crappy sound. It does bug me that there's so little training given to those in the projection booths.
Posted on Monday September 10, 2007, 13:54
The handfull of times something's cocked up during a cinema visit, I've actually found the staff to be really friendly and helpful - every time, someone came into the auditorium and apologised, and offered a full refund or free tickets to another film. One of these occassions took place in America, too (and one wasn't really the cinema's fault, as there'd been a power cut).
However, I agree that a "not my problem" attitude doesn't help matters. One can only hope that seeing his cinema badmouthed on a major film website will make the manager up his game a tad.
Posted on Monday September 10, 2007, 15:20
I hate it when the picture is ever-so-slightly out of focus- it does your eyes in after a while.
Posted on Monday September 10, 2007, 16:29
Following on from britesparc, the last three times I've been to the Odeon in Derby, they've not corrected the screen ratio in time for the beginning of the film. I actually missed a few minutes of The Bourne Ultimatum trying to get it sorted. Wankers.
Independent cinemas are so much better in that regard. I saw The Godfather at the Showroom in Sheffield ten years ago and building work next door repeatedly knocked out the electricity during the opening half hour. The cinema gave everybody a free ticket to come and see another film, so I went back to The Godfather Part 2 for free a couple of days later.
Posted on Monday September 10, 2007, 16:30
Eh, how did that happen? It was Marty's post, not britesparc's, I was replying to. Give credit where credit's due!
Posted on Monday September 10, 2007, 17:06
can you blame the manager really? Sounds to me like the manager was trying to explain how you cant just 'rewind' a film reel (im sure all of you would have been quite happy to wait the half hour or so it would have taken to stop the reel, take it all off and refix - yeah im sure there would have been no complaints there, or from the following customers whose film was shown late because of this) and the usual uppity customers (quote: 'honestly could I have a go at fixing it?') were not happy with that explanation. I myself have had the beginning of a few films ruined due to these problems, but hey accidents happen people and they dont even happen that often. And remember projectionists usually have quite a few screens to be looking after.
Posted on Monday September 10, 2007, 17:07
My local cinema (Showcase Walsall) twice this year made monumental cock ups, after sitting through the entire of the mind numbing trailers and adverts (which never seem to go wrong!) the film came on all screwed up and the first 10 mins of Hot Fuzz and Die Hard 4.0 were projected onto the ceiling of the cinema but with perfect sound, while I didn't miss anything major (except for being bloody furious as I missed Peter Jackson's Santa cameo in HF) but that's not the point, the adverts were filled with ads for how pirate DVD's "give a poor picture which is obscured by someone going to the loo" and by paying the best part of Â£10 to see it in the cinema you get perfection but we got a crap presentation and sweet F#!* all in the way of an apology.
Anyway, now I travel to Birmingham for my cinema pleasures where I have never had a problem. Learn the lesson cinema's of the world, screw up and lose customers so DON'T SCREW UP (and switch to digital, it looks so much better and you could then restart the film!)
Posted on Monday September 10, 2007, 23:43
Cinemas are a dying breed it won't be long before people can download films for $5 and watch them on their flat screens and sit on their comfy Joey style flip back chairs with surround sound in their rooms rather the suffer the pain of yobs talking during films throwing popcorn and suffering the uncomfy chairs that have no padding left or drink the horrible waterd down pepsi
Posted on Tuesday September 11, 2007, 02:09
I went to watch Aeon Flux in the cinema when the sound gave out halfway through. Not one person complained or asked for a refund... they probably would have had the sound not gone out and they were forced to watch the whole movie, but they all seemed to agree that it was a better movie without the dialogue and music.
Posted on Tuesday September 11, 2007, 09:06
Its a deal with the devil isn't it...we get multiplexes with multiple screens, big seats, plenty of leg room etc. which are a massive improvement on the old ABC fleapits of yesteryear, but we have to put up with useless staff with limited technical knowledge/customer services skills...
Still there's really no excuse. Since a cinema's primary function is to show films (not sell popcorn or play adverts as the management of some chains seem to think it is) they really should do everything in their power to make sure they get that bit right. That includes having a professional, well trained projectionist to deal with the odd technical problem and motivated staff empowered and trained to deal with the group of attention deficit disorder afflicted teenagers in row four without half the audience having to go outside to complain and then take matters into their own hands....
Posted on Tuesday September 11, 2007, 09:19
Stillwater- I can appreciate your 'keep it chilled' attitude. I tend to adopt it myself, as I've realised that allowing other people to irritate me is all a bit stress-inducing. However, in a day and age where a cinema ticket can cost almost as much as a new DVD, cinemas really should be employing proper projectionists. Why should people put up with such a costcutting measure?
In my opinion, the worst culprits are Odeon, if only for the fact they seem to dwell on their 80 year history, thus making it acceptable for them to hire people who don't know what they're doing, to incorporate that silly 'premium seats' strategy (where all the seats with the best view cost more), and surprisingly, for a company that claims to be a part of film heritage, doesn't really seem to care about film.
And, just to come to Cineworld's defence (their unlimited card is rather excellent value), I tend to frequent the ones at Shaftesbury Avenue and Haymarket, and over the last five years, I've only ever had one aspect ratio cock-up (which was during a festival screening), and one power outage (which wasn't the cinema's fault). Though, granted, the one in Enfield is shite.
Posted on Tuesday September 11, 2007, 09:28
My fave cinema cock up was a few years ago when my wife and I went to see Descent, only to have Fantastic Four appear onscreen. After a moment of wondering if we'd sat in the wrong screen, gauging everyone else's reaction I realised this wasn't the case and went to inform a member of staff. When I got back to my seat and sat through the first 10 minutes of FF, I couldn't help but wonder if a bunch of kiddies next door were watching our movie and being treated to seeing a little girl's head being impaled on a steel pipe...
Posted on Tuesday September 11, 2007, 13:13
but the monumental cock-ups at my loacal independent cinema were half the reason for going! It was like tradition in our town (think hot Fuzz without the murders) and after they got their new "top notch" projector, it was great fun watching them trying to rember how to use it! It built character there and everyone from young chav to old biddly alike loved it- especially when the '5, 4, 3, 2, 1' countdown appeared in black and white (obv) midway through I, Robot and The Corpse Bride (this time one of the projectors was broken so there was a gap), because it just fitted really well with the films....
But if that happened at the multiplex in town it would be like 28 Weeks Later, with the polite absurdity remarks and plenty of shouting if it comes to that, because to get there, not only must I and my freinds fork out for the cinema, but the SIX QUID plus it costs to ge there by public transport from various corners of the countryside because it is the nearest big cinema. So said refund? Doesn't even cover half of what came out of our pockets to go see a movie- something we do too often to be ignored.
Posted on Wednesday September 12, 2007, 01:14
I have learned to avoid the first day of an engagement. By the second day onwards management will, usually, have worked the bugs out. At least that's my theory. It's not necessarily foolproof, though. I heard of a cinema here in the States that showed "Pulp Fiction" in first run. When the manager saw the movie the first night, he panicked, thinking the distributor had sent him the reels out of order. Overnight, he and the projectionist disassembled the entire print, then put it back together in linear order. So anyone who saw it after that got something, well, odd. This might be an urban legend, but it's such a strange, loopy story that it's probably true.
Posted on Wednesday September 12, 2007, 10:53
The first time I saw Matrix Reloaded we managed to get through the whole film up untill the Architects speech when the speaker system started playing up badly. We thought we had missed the key moment of the film and complained afterwards. However because no-one else complained the management did bugger all. So we booked again for a couple of days later only to find the Architect made more sense the first time around.
Not the point really. the point is that the cinema really couldn't give a monkeys.
On a trip to the states whilst in a cinema some kids behind were talking. The person I was with told them to be quiet and no sooner had she done this than the usher (quite a novelty in this day of finding your own seats) came over and told them any more and they were out. They made no sound during the whole film.
Cinema in this country is expensive and no longer the best viewing expierence you can have. Oh except The Rex in Berkhamstead which is amazing.
Oh and by the way did anyone see The IT Crowds piracy ad....brilliant.
Posted on Wednesday September 12, 2007, 14:35
My experiences over the years:
Striptease (Demi Moore) - Where the film was projected oddly, so that the boom mike and the top of the set was visible in about 2 / 3 of shots. Still not sure how that happened. (The late, not lamented Robins in Bath.)
Austin Powers - The curtains at the side didn't move back properly, so the sides of the move were projected onto them for the first hour. (Odeon Leicester)
Mimic, Murder In The First - Movie projected in the wrong ratio (each time for the whole film). (Showcase Bristol, Odeon Leicester)
Heat - Movie shown with house lights still up for the entire running time. (ABC, Bath)
House Of Flying Daggers - Wrong movie shown for first 10 minutes. Then had to sit through ads and trailers again. (Cineworld / UGC, Birmingham)
The Prestige - Not actually showing at the cinema that day, despite the cinema selling me a ticket at the box office ten minutes before the scheluded start time - screen was half way through an animated movie. (Cineworld, Birmingham)
When you consider that I see 60-70 movies a year at the cinema, 1 problem every two years is not far off a 1% failure rate. Can't imagine we'd accept the same thing on DVD.
Posted on Wednesday September 12, 2007, 15:26
I went to a screening of 'Gangs of New York' where it started off in the wrong ratio (the people were stretched out like tall aliens -I heard someone behind me ask "Do they look like that because it's a flashback?"), but the cinema sorted it out once customers had gone out to tell them. Later on the sound disappeared and they stopped the screening for about 15 mins while they worked out what was going wrong. Overall, the cinema was helpful on that occasion.
15 mins from the end of 'Magnolia' the film got stuck, overheated, and caught fire, leaving a bright white light and a flapping piece of celluloid being projected onscreen. We sat there for about three minutes before we realised it wasn't part of the film (hey, it'd just started raining frogs, so anything was possible), but we did get free tickets to another film.
I did sit through 'The Pursuit of Happyness' with the full lights on -but I blame myself for that because I should have gone and told them about it.
Posted on Wednesday September 12, 2007, 16:35
When I saw Kill Bill vol one, the film began in the wrong aspect ratio with everything looking stretched. I was sure something was wrong with the projection but in the back of my head I was thinking "Hang on...perhaps it's deliberate and Tarantino is making some kind of ironic reference to something he watched in his video store such as Pinball Summer". I was to worried to say anything in case I got laughed down for not being in on the joke.
Fortunately someone else sorted it out
Posted on Thursday September 13, 2007, 13:35
Damn people really have it in against projectionists don't they?! I feel i have to defend my kind here, because we're not all spotty nosed 18 year olds with about as much training on how to run a film as your average Popcorn monkey downstairs behind the concessions stand.
Although incorrect film starts are avoidable, we're all human and from time to time mistakes are made, luckily it's a 3 strikes and your out thing (unless you stick on an 18 rated film instead of a U for example, then you're fucked, quite frankly) so if somebody's stupid enough not to learn from making that mistake first up, then they're clearly not sensible enough to run a projection booth.
Also, I've found that with our Digital Projector more things are likely to break than with the tried and tested 100 year old theory of celluloid and shutter drives.
Although i wouldn't like to say that every projection booth contains high standards, i know the one i work in really emphasizes the importance of quality. Unfortunately things go wrong sometimes, just because it took the projectionist 10 minutes to get the sound working again during this performance of Atonement does not mean s/he did not spend 10 minutes trying to fix the problem. it's not just a case of flicking switches and pressing play unfortunately. If it were, i am sure they cinema companies would use it as a perfect opportunity to pay us projectionists even less than they already do.
Posted on Thursday September 13, 2007, 13:41
"15 mins from the end of 'Magnolia' the film got stuck, overheated, and caught fire, leaving a bright white light and a flapping piece of celluloid being projected onscreen. We sat there for about three minutes before we realised it wasn't part of the film (hey, it'd just started raining frogs, so anything was possible), but we did get free tickets to another film"
dahlia79, can i ask whether this cinema was a multiplex or not? Teh reason i ask is because the material they use for film stock these days is not flammable - trust me, i tried ;-) Also, depending on the model of their projector, the unit should have shut itself down the second it sensed a loosening of tension in the print (which it would have done if the print got "stuck")
If of course it was an old cinema using vintage machines, then disregard everything i just said ;-)
Posted on Thursday September 13, 2007, 14:14
"dahlia79, can i ask whether this cinema was a multiplex or not? Teh reason i ask is because the material they use for film stock these days is not flammable - trust me, i tried ;-) Also, depending on the model of their projector, the unit should have shut itself down the second it sensed a loosening of tension in the print (which it would have done if the print got "stuck")
If of course it was an old cinema using vintage machines, then disregard everything i just said ;-)"
Hi Ray. It was a multiplex, although maybe it should be referred to as a "multiplex" if they were using substandard equipment. The film literally stopped, the image started to warp, the surface kind of made a bubble and then a hole burnt through, and we could see a loose piece of celluloid flapping over a bright white light. The manager told us that the projector had overheated because of the length of the film (which seemed to be something he'd just made up -if that were true it'd happen all the time). But if, as you say, film stock is not flammable, I don't know what happened -some kind of serious malfunction? Full moon film freakery? Or maybe Tyler Durden was alive and well and working as a projectionist for Warner Brothers cinemas (now closed) in Newcastle?
Posted on Thursday September 13, 2007, 14:35
It could well have just melted (i've saw that happen to the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean although luckily the projector shut down almost instantly)
Although, what the manager told you is utter bollocks :-P To be honest, the vast majority of Cinema managers know sweet F.A. about what goes on in Projection, as far as they're concerned as long as the film runs, they don't really care. Which really doesn't help when it comes to customer service. The metal inside a projector runs white hot due to the Xenon reaching extreme heat, so the projector doesn't "over heat" due to running for too long!
Posted on Thursday September 13, 2007, 16:08
i loved that blog, so dramatic. i have had a couple of experiences come to think about it, though at the time i thought my eyes were just getting shit, and i was imagining the lip synch out of order.
ive not really paid much attention to those, however, just one film irritated me.
when i went to see star wars 3, the film cut out for some reason in the first space battle, but one of the workers came in with a torch, apologised to all 3 of the audience (me a friend and a man who proceeded to fall asleep later on) and said they would start the film again, which i thought was brilliant.
i think that was the case though seeing as it was only lunch time in term a couple years ago so they could afford to do that. but, what are our consumer? rights? surely if you pay 7 quid to see a film then you have th right to watch it and be entertained, whether or not the manager can be arsed to fix it or not.
Posted on Thursday September 13, 2007, 16:50
1988 - The Metro cinema, Ashton-Unde-Lyne
Midnight run played for five minutes in silence. It was only when De niro almost got shot through a door that people realised the sound wasn;t on
I still occassionally watch that bit with the volume down. It sort of suits it.
Posted on Thursday September 13, 2007, 20:32
Ah Frankie, the Metro! Saw Lord of the Rings for the first time there... Still, prefered the Palace - the only cinema were the floors didn't stick.
The only troubles I've had have been at Cineworld in Ashton. Ocean's 13 started smouldering, but that was sorted without the film burning up, but Harry Potter 5 actually snapped. Thank god it was the Wedding PLanner trailer, but it was very unusual - the manager came, spoke, sorted.
Posted on Friday September 14, 2007, 07:50
I have stopped going to the Clapham Picturehouse entirely. During a showing of the Aviator, I was sat under what seemed to be an air vent where I could hear people above having some sort of party or gathering. Then towards the end, the film cut out for about a minute. I informed the manager of this, particularly noting the air vent with the intention of the cinema then being able to perhaps rectify the problem and was met with "Well, what do you want me to do about it?" I wouldn't have minded if he had said there's nothing we can really do about, but just the fact that it seemed to be such an affront to him that I might have a complaint at all. Then at another screening of Shark Tale, the film didn't play at all.
So now I go to the Ritzy if I want a Picturehouse experience or the Prince Charles Cinema where the audience can be just as entertaining as the film. During Grizzly Man, one woman told a bloke to switch his phone off, i think he was trying to but then she started hitting him. For me it added to the whole experience of the film.
Speaking of "When the middle classes go bad!" I was working at a car park at the Hampton Court Flower Show this year. I have never seen so many middle class people so utterly rude. Some choice phrases were "£9! Snakes." "No, I'm not paying that." General foul language and one gentleman spat at a colleague of mine. I think this is proof of the dangers of driving.
Posted on Friday September 14, 2007, 09:31
Posted on Friday September 14, 2007, 12:00
My only experience of this was when going to see Star Wars Episode II in Movie House In Belfast. The movie started without sound for the opening scrolling. That didn't bother us in the slightest as my friends and I proceeded to sing the 20th Century Fox Music and then the Star Wars Theme much to the enjoyment and laughter of the audience, some of who joined in! Once that was over, we complained about the lack of sound and i was sorted out and the film started again.
You'd think that when you pay the (extremely expensive if you ask me) £10 that you'd be guaranteed to have someone watching over the film to make sure all is well. Cinemas just seem to be money grabbing b*stards.
Anyway, I have all these Odeon worries ahead of me when it opens in Belfast's new Victoria Square development!
Posted on Friday September 14, 2007, 13:36
I'm sure they felt better with you snapping photo's of them during their annoyance Kat :p
Posted on Friday September 14, 2007, 23:26
Projectionists- sat around all day playing on the Xbox/Playstation/Nintendo/PC or all 4 that they have up there. Films are never checked as they start which is annoying as all films are staggered usually in the space of an hour so there's plenty of time to make sure the film is playing correctly in each auditorium. Just sheer laziness.
Posted on Friday September 14, 2007, 23:58
I said rather sarcastically in a previous post that the adverts never go wrong, well I went to see Shoot em up today and the trailers were projected wrong so half the picture was obscured while the movie itself was perfect so I'm not quite so sarcastic any more :)
Posted on Saturday September 15, 2007, 00:05
Having no sound is annoying. But sitting down to watch Harry Potter and finding yourself treated to an indiscreet clicking noise coming from all the speakers over the films actual sound is even worse. And this went on for nearly ten minutes before someone actually had to go out and tell staff there was a problem!
Posted on Saturday September 15, 2007, 18:24
Why the hell isn't there warning above the door of a screening, saying this is a bloody awful film go get on refund, on films like Epic Movie.
Posted on Sunday September 16, 2007, 11:50
The Showcase in Birmingham is just as bad as the one in Walsall. The 2nd POTC was awful, it was constantly out of focus and the soundtrack was poor quality. When everyone complained they said that every cinema was having the same problem with the reels and it was the distributor's fault, not theirs! So basically instead of giving a warning at the start, they knew it was going to be crap quality, grr!
Also Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was blurred and distorted for the first five minutes, it was only adjusted when the seven year olds at the front started booing. So bloody annoying!
Posted on Monday September 17, 2007, 12:10
I feel like i should also defend the cinema industry from someone who works for a large cinema chain.
Projector faults a lot of the time cannot be helped - some can some cant. The guys in the cinema i am based in 99% of the time can get it sorted in 5 mins and everyone is happy. If they cant sort it out then customers get a refund and a free ticket.
Some distributers do not allow filsm to be watched before the official release date so unless someone is going to come in at 6am to watch the films on the Friday then they cant be pre checked.
Also customers a lot of the time do not give the managers a chance to explain etc. they crowd round shouting and demanding compensation - give the poor guys a chance.
Also why should you get a refund if you sit through the entire film and then complain at the end.
I do agree that it is frustrating when something goes wrong but a lot of the time it is no-ones fault and just a pure accident.
Right rant over..........................
Posted on Wednesday September 19, 2007, 14:23
punchdrunk, it would have made their day. They could have punched me to relieve their feelings, but the sedation of being in a queue was probably too overwhelming. Kat
Posted on Thursday September 20, 2007, 10:14
Yeah apparently at the Cineworld in Aberdeen there's only ever 1 guy being a projectionist but he's also being a mechanic/handy man for the rest of the cinema at the same time so when projections go bad, it's usually 10 or 15 minutes before someone apears to fix it. Though I have to be the meanie here and say Atonement is rubbish - I don't get why everyone is saying it's so amazing the story seems pretty mundane and well-worn already anyway to me though I can't deny it's a series of very lovely pictures...so you didn't really need the sound anyway!
Posted on Thursday September 20, 2007, 14:09
Quite a few years back I was in a small cinema in our local mall, when in the middle of the movie the screen went black. As these kind of little things had happened quite often before, we (there was about 10 people in the showing) just remained in our seats and waited for it to be fixed. After 10 minutes nothing still hadn't happened so all of us decided to go and see what the problem was. For our surprise there was no one in the projection booth, nor on the entire floor. Our little group of annoyed movie goers finally found our projectionist outside the cinema, having coffee with his friends in a neighbouring café. We got to finish our movie, but I really can't remember which flick it was, because our Hunt For the Missing Projectionist was probably a lot more fun...
Posted on Thursday September 20, 2007, 17:05
"Since a cinema's primary function is to show films (not sell popcorn or play adverts as the management of some chains seem to think it is) they really should do everything in their power to make sure they get that bit right."
Unfortunately, the business model in the film busines essentially *is* that a cinema's primary function is to sell popcorn and show commercials to the audience; the film is merely the bait to get you into their clutches,
Here in the States, theatres would, generally at best break even if their sole income was admissions.
And it's been going on for a long time - the main reason for the severe (and badly done) cutting of Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West" was to allow theatres to get in one additional showing per day in order to sell more popcorn...
Posted on Friday September 21, 2007, 11:57
I've only experienced a few memorable 'fubars' at the cinema, and I'm an avid goer.
Our local 1 screen cinema played the second half of Galaxy Quest backwards as it had been put on the reel wrong , which was rather entertaining but unfortunately meant we had to come back another night to see the end. They did offer us free tickets however which was nice.
The multiplex I saw Die Hard 4.0 in had terrible sound. You couldn't hear any of the dialogue whenever the action scenes happened. Despite at least 10 people going out through-out the course of the film to let staff know, nothing was done. When we asked to see a manager after the film and informed him of this, he actually argued with us for 10 minutes claiming there had been nothing wrong with the showing. It took about half an hour to convince him to give us free tickets so we could come back and actually hear what was being said.
The BEST (or worst) cinema FUBAR happened to me while I was in NZ. I went to see Jarhead at a local multiplex and for the first 5 minutes of the film there was no sound. Then half way through the film an alarm sounded, but no attendant came in which puzzled us a bit. After about 10mins someone from the front row wandered outside and discovered that the building had been evacuated...except for the 60 or so people in our screen! We were not offered refunds and instead kept waiting for 40mins before the manager herded us all back in without a word of apology or any explanation.
Posted on Saturday September 22, 2007, 11:28
That picture looks like a still from Dawn of the Dead.
Posted on Saturday September 29, 2007, 13:07
Part One (-apologies, I had to go to Word to write this and kinda exceeded the word limit)
Just a few short weeks ago I went to my local Cineworld to see Disturbia. Now, I go to this cinema all the time. About 3-4 times a week on a good week. At least once a week. 99% of the time there's nothing wrong everything goes smoothly.
However, during the aforementioned Disturnia screening, the image split and the bottom of the image was projected at the top of the screen and vice versa after the first reel. This was easily rectified when someone reported but there's always a minute or two when give the cinema the benefit of the doubt as you sit there to see if any of the (never-present) will notice the error and sort it out. So, as I said, it got sorted when someone reported it but that wasn't the end of the woes.
Another 5 minutes passed and a boom-mic popped into shot. Okay, I thought, once is a goof that might have slipped through in the film itself. Ah well. Then it happened again. And again and again. It was ridiculous in that in almost every dialogue-based scene you would see a mic prominently at the top of the screen darting between actors as lines were delivered. The audience started laughing. Now, I like to think of myself as fairly savvy having studied film and watched enough making of docos but the majority of the fairly small audience started laughing at what they saw as this shoddily bad production of Ed Wood-like proportions. Now I knew the problem lay in the projection - the film should have been prjected so as to mask off this area you're not meant to see. As no-one else in the screen seemed to be bothered by this distraction and seeing as I had even the slighest idea what I was talking about, I took it upon myself to report this. I was met with a blank stare. "Microphone? I'll get someone to check". As I was unwilling to miss any more of the film I headed back to my seat. 10 minutes later, nothing sorted.
Posted on Saturday September 29, 2007, 13:09
...and I still managed to write 'Disturnia', rather than the infinitely more correct 'Disturbia'. See, human error is fine...
Posted on Saturday September 29, 2007, 15:37
My experience of Atonement was also marred by technical failures... midway through we heard raised voices at the back of the hall, annoying enough, but then an attendant strides to the front and starts bellowing something about having to stop the film briefly. The atmosphere was ruined at what's worse, when the film was resumed it was obvious that several minutes had been skipped. With the ever-increasing prices of cinema-going at the likes of Vue and Odeon it's not unreasonable to expect a better level of service than that.
It hasn't stopped me booking tickets for the gala screening of Stardust on Thursday, mind.
Posted on Sunday November 4, 2007, 16:50
I hate this blog as I used to work at a cinema and being screamed at by customers without being given an opportunity to explain the situation is not fun I can tell yuo and always being spoken to like we are s**t because we are younger members of society in our late teens to mid twenties as no other idiot will work in a cinema!!! Please be considerate of your ushers when you visit a cinema as we dont get paid a lot and the hours stink and we do the best we can!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Things go wrong as projectoers are dodgy peices of equipment and dont always work properly and I dont care that its the 21st century, customers are sop quick to complain but when they recieve excellent customer service from people who care your not bothered about letting the managers know they did well
Cinema staff get a raw deal so give them a break and blame equipment and leave off projectionist as they work hard and takes a long time to learn the trade
Posted on Monday November 5, 2007, 11:18
I used to work in a cinema (and I'm also called Ben...) All I can say on behalf of, I'm sure, cinema staff everywhere is, sometimes there isn't enough of us on shift to deal with all the problems that come our way. Understaffing is a severe problem, especially on weekends.
Often management aren't as helpful as they should be - and with ticket pices rising a couple of times every year, it should be absolutely essential for them to ensure a comfortbale and enjoyable film for everyone.
As for technical problems, they do happen - and following on from a comment above, if it happens to you - go out straight away and tell someone if a film is out of focus/no sound or whatever, because there's often not enough staff to be able to sit at the back of every screen and make sure the reel is running correctly. It is a bit annoying when you've got 80 guests complaining on their way OUT of a dodgy screening.
Obviously, parents will want to take thier kids to see a Shrek or a Stardust on on weekend but my advice to EVERYONE is simply: don't go to the cinema on a Saturday - screens are like zoos, don't tempt yourself - you may be forced to strike a child out of sheer frustration for their complete lack of regard for other people's desire to actually sit quietly and watch the big screen in front of them.
Don't even get me started on the prices of foo - we used to charge £3.35 for a hot dog (it's more now!) when they were 12p (PENCE!) top buy in!!
Very little is actually made from the selling of tickets - it all goes to distributors/studios - that's why management put all their efforts into profits made on the concession stands - they would rather deal with someone who is ordering 5 combos for their family than sorting out a problem in a screen itself.
Ridiculous, but oh so true.
Posted on Friday December 7, 2007, 21:14
Went to see King Arthur, the crap one with Clive Owen, and the beginning battle had no sound to it. I filled in the silence by doing a loud "Da da da..." of trumpet charges, and lip-synching to the yells of people on screen getting stabbed up. After some awkward laughter, everyone else got the joke and joined in. It was immense. I was actually slightly disappointed when the sound was eventually fixed.