In a counter-piece to yesterday’s ’11 Things We No Longer See in Movie Theaters’, I thought I’d post about ’11 Things We Should No Longer See in Movie Theaters (but still do)’ but instead ’11 Things Modern Movie Theaters Have’ now comes to mind.
1. Multichannel sound: Old movies had tinny, mono soundtracks. Yes, a long time ago, in pre-soundtrack days, you had someone playing the piano live and sometimes an actual orchestra. Today we have gone far beyond simple stereo to 7.1, Dolby True Digital, and more. When I attend a RPX showing at the Biltmore Grande, I expect and get bone-rattling sound.
2. Digital projection: I know there are plenty of 35mm and 70mm purists out there but digital projection is amazing. Properly calibrated, there is no loss of clarity EVER, you’ll never have a broken reel that stops the show or scratch marks on an old copy pulling you out of the experience.
3. Digital delivery: This goes along with the digital projection but digital delivery allows you to adjust on the fly. Sold out of the premiere of The Avengers 2? Simply dedicate another auditorium for it on the fly and still another if that show sells out.
4. Amazing back-catalogue: This is not heavily used yet but with new 4K and 8K digital masters being struck for home video, these masters can be played in theater. Studios use it for big releases such as Indiana Jones but Ken Hanke and Carolina Cinemas release a film every month in his Big Budget Classics series here. I saw North by Northwest two months ago, missed 2001 last month, and this month is Chinatown.
5. Free advertising: Cheap printing costs mean that many movie theaters give out 12×18 copies of posters. Not only is my movie room is decorated with them but I have a cubby filled with hundreds more in my home office.
6. Captive advertising: This one is not a plus for the consumer. Theaters are able to create another revenue stream through the ads they show before the movie, either on slides or video presentations. My wife actually enjoys the pre-movie video presentations like ‘The 20’.
7. Tie-in merchandise in-theater: Yes, older movies could have tie-in merchandise. Rasputin promoters offered beards for boys (paper cutouts). Today’s cheap plastics allow plenty of promotional opportunities. I have large high-quality plastic cups (that double in my house as popcorn containers) for Man of Steel, Ice Age, Pirates of the Caribbean, Men in Black, and more.
8. Tie-in merchandise out-of-theater: One word – McDonald’s. I have more than a dozen Minion toys for Despicable Me 2 thanks to a certain granddaughter’s inclination. Toys from summer blockbusters abound in Wal-Mart and Target. Full soundtracks and novelizations are available on or before a movie’s release.
9. Beer and wine: Not a big plus for me as I never really acquired a taste for either. Several area theaters sell them and Carolina Cinemas carries local brews on tap. None of our local theaters has a full ABC license but Studio Movie Grill in Charlotte has a full line of cocktails and adult milkshakes.
10. Real food: While major chains offer microwaveable pizzas, smaller chains and dedicated arms of the major chains offer a full dining experience. Carolina Cinemas offers a pretty decent pizza, Cinebarre serves excellent fries (if you can get served), and Studio Movie Grill has coconut chicken tenders. These all come at a price but it is nice to have the option.
11. Second-run theaters: I’m not sure how much of a bonus this is because second-run theaters came about as a result of overpriced first-run theaters. Cinebarre and Asheville Pizza Company in our area have $3 ticket prices and show movies that have just left the regular cinemas. In response Carolina Cinemas has $5 Wednesday ($3 for Students) and Epic Cinemas has $5 Tuesday (though for some reason Warner and Sony won’t participate).