What Happened To Modern Day Moviegoing, Cineplex?
WINNIPEG, MB. — When I went to the movies with friends, I always had one general rule: we needed to be seated before the lights dimmed.
This is only a rule when I go to Landmark Cinemas now, because Cineplex doesn’t dim the lights anymore.
It’s really an indication of something I’m seeing at Canada’s largest movie chain whether I’m catching a flick here in Winnipeg or Calgary when I’m visiting family.
There is a shocking lack of presentation standards since the company absorbed the great Famous Players chain.
We’re talking about a company that was born in a parking garage in 1979, featuring 18 tiny rooms with screens the size of a 52″ television, gobbling up a major competitor with a 90-year history born out of movie palaces.
That’s where the problem stems: Cineplex, at its core, has always been a big-box retailer designed only to maximize profits.
I ran the 35mm film projection booth at Polo Park for nearly three years and was Assistant Manager at the Odeon Drive-In.
There was a team of Famous Players vets running both as the companies merged and the on-screen presentation was always a priority.
So I wonder today why I sit in a room being blasted with ads, the lights flick off uneventfully and there’s no curtain hiding the giant screen, and then the same standard definition ads keep playing for 10-minutes?
This kicks off the show. Then we get some ads for superhero movies, and finally the movie.
I loved the character of film but I can’t deny the picture feels brighter and sharper on digital.
Today, if the power is on upstairs, the entire projection booth will run itself without intervention.
There are no projectionists: you’re on 100 per cent auto pilot. The automation should be taking care of everything.
Yet, at Westhills in Calgary, I caught the first show of the day for both Baby Driver and Atomic Blonde, and the house lights weren’t even on.
The entire room was pitch black with ads playing and a bunch of people were already seated.
Those ads would stop, half the house lights would turn on, and the ads would continue.
At the former, an usher came in to put a theatre checksheet at the front of the room but the issue was never noted or corrected.
When the credits roll, the lights turn on full blast. It’s jarring.
Why is nobody checking this at Canada’s largest chain or why is this a company-wide policy?
Isn’t the whole business about your presentation?
Show me ads, I don’t care, but have some standards like Landmark.
It shouldn’t be a big deal that a theatre still dims their lights.
—Andrew McCrea, MyToba Movies
Photo – File