Is Home Theater Technology Killing Movie Theaters? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 11:25 AM - Thread Starter
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While home theater technology advances, the commercial movie theater has remained relatively stagnant. Could traditional movie theaters be on their death-beds?

Why should you bother to go to the movie theater?
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Your question is a good one, and it’s one that more and more home theater owners are struggling to answer. Just think about the term “home theater.” Why venture out and pay a premium when you’ve got your very own movie theater in your living room? Sure, the screen’s a bit smaller, but you don’t have to deal with yapping neighbors, shimmying down the aisle to hit the bathroom, or missing part of the movie when you do.

In this day and age, movie theaters have three things keeping them afloat: the newest movies, a huge screen, and the allure of a “night out” at the movies. The problem is, recent sales data shows that, for more and more customers, that triumvirate just isn’t enough them off of their couch. Hollywood.com statistics show that North American movie theaters counted 533 million patrons this past summer. That’s four percent fewer than last year, and the fewest since 1993. Even more troubling is that American movie theaters only sold 1.3 billion movie tickets domestically this summer. That last sentence may sound comical, but it’s all relative. Those 1.3 billion seasonal tickets are the fewest sold since 1995.

The declining movie theater.
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Take things from a macro to a micro scale, and the picture is just as bleak. Last month, CNN.com reported that the box-office figures for September 7 through 9 represented the worst cumulative ticket sales since September 21 through 23, 2001. If we narrow the scope even further and look at individual movies, the hits just keep on not coming. Zap2it reports that The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, which cost over $50 million to make, turned in an anemic $448,000 and recouped less than one percent of its budget. This despite the fact the ill-fated kids flick opened up in 2,160 theaters. That gives it the dubious distinction of tallying the single worst opening weekend ever for a movie that opened in over 2,000 theaters.

So September, it seems, has produced a sort of triple-crown of box-office ineptitude. It capped the worst summer in almost two decades, yielded the worst weekend since the aftermath of 9/11, and debuted the worst-selling major release of all time. I think it’s safe to say that theaters are struggling.

Why such a grim outlook?
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One explanation might be that, for the last five years, household incomes have fallen while movie ticket prices have been on the upswing. According to the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), average U.S. ticket prices are up 15 percent since 2007. Compare that to household incomes, which are down just under 10 percent over the same span, and you have a problematic discrepancy.

Still, despite continued economic struggles, U.S. home theater sales are on the rise. According to the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG), at-home video entertainment content netted 8.4 billion in the first half of 2012, up 1.4 percent from the same stretch in 2011. The numbers for Blu-ray disc sales were even more impressive, as they increased 13.3 percent from the previous year. Looking at these numbers, it’s clear we can’t blame the summer’s paltry box-office figures solely on the economy.

So who is to blame?
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So what do we blame it on? Industry insiders offer varying explanations for why home theaters are thriving while movie theaters are slumping. Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research at the National Association of Theater Owners, told Digital Trends he attributes the discrepancy to the natural ebb and flow of public interest, saying of the theater industry’s listless September, “it was really about the popularity of what was in the box-office. We compete with other out-of-home options more than in-home options.” He went on to add that the advent of VHS tapes and DVD’s both ended up providing a boon to the industry, by increasing the public’s interest in movies. It’s an optimistic view of the situation, but as we’ve seen, the data paints a different picture.

Movie theaters have essentially been pedaling the same product for the last quarter century. Meanwhile, home theaters are advancing, literally, day-by day. The PR line is that 3D is the new wave in cinema, but a version of that technology has existed in some form or another for 60 years now. Combine that fact with the surcharge of $3 or more that most theaters tack on to your ticket for 3D and, for many moviegoers, it’s just not worth it.

There may, however, be an advance on the horizon that could inject some forward motion into the long-static movie-theater business. That technology is Dolby Atmos, a next-generation surround-sound system with a truly ubiquitous feel. Atmos has been billed as the next big thing in movies and is already being rolled out for a few select flicks. Problem is, full integration is still a ways away, and while the industry waits for Atmos to arrive in earnest, its struggles will likely continue.

If movie theaters don’t get creative and adapt to the times, they’re in danger of being left behind. What are you thoughts?


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post #2 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 12:05 PM
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yeah the whole idea behind Movie Theaters was during the depression as a cheap form of entertainment just like baseball games and so on but like with everything the american way, greed got in the way and prices started to climb frown.gif its a real shame...

I still go to theaters because well I cant fit a HUGE screen in my place nor can I afford that many speaker placements and so on, dont get me wrong I have a decent set up at home but there is just something about going to a real movie theater thats still pretty nice. I would go more if the prices were not so high...

I too am hoping ATMOS saves the industry by offering something that you just cant get at home smile.gif I think 3d TVs should have never came out for at least another 5 years or so, this way the movie theaters would have had something that you didnt have at home to help bring the people and make it worth the potential price.

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post #3 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 12:20 PM
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The people spending money on home theaters are at the age where they wouldn't be pushing movie sales. I believe the low sales are due to the younger generation not going to movies. They live in a different world than someone in their thirtys like me. We went to the movies atleast once a week. Kids have the ability to get things with a few clicks nowadays. And most of the time for free.
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post #4 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 12:22 PM
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The reasons for the stagnant returns at movie theaters are legion. There are 25 sub-threads that could be devoted to 25 different reasons that movie cinema returns are stagnant despite (or because of) rising ticket prices.

First and foremost, people need to understand the Laffer curve. There's a point where raising prices (or taxes) results in lower revenue. There's a sweet spot for ticket prices and the conspiracy cabal between studio suits and theater owners jumped that particular shark a few years ago. Certainly the unspoken collusion on ticket prices has sheltered cinema owners from basic market forces, but every industry has a "Waiter, check please" tipping point.

I don't want to go there.

I'll say this:

I completed my dedicated home theater about two months ago and I'm finally in the hard-core "No First Run, Wait for the Blu-ray" mode. Looper was my first real test. Man, I was crazy to see it at the public cinema. Had to force myself to just keep looking at dvdrelease.com over and over and trying to focus on suitable content to hold me over until my personal first release-to-DVD gap closes.

Just keep talkin'. I'll let you know when you're right.
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post #5 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve#9 View Post

The people spending money on home theaters are at the age where they wouldn't be pushing movie sales. I believe the low sales are due to the younger generation not going to movies. They live in a different world than someone in their thirtys like me. We went to the movies atleast once a week. Kids have the ability to get things with a few clicks nowadays. And most of the time for free.

True dat. Well said.

But one twist: The generation of which you speak is invariably living under the same roof as us "old guys" in the dedicated home theater phase. The younger generation may not be able to afford a house and a dedicated home theater build, but that doesn't mean they still don't have access to a dedicated home theater.

I know, access to a dedicated home theater wasn't your point. In point of fact, this current youth generation seems to be a generation that has no issues with watching a bootlegged Malaysian recording of a theater release on a frickin' four inch smartphone. Philistines. But maybe the access to a dedicated home theater is a small factor. Maybe.

Just keep talkin'. I'll let you know when you're right.
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post #6 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 12:54 PM
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The big theater companies are stale. We however, have an upstart in PDX called "Cinetopia" that features amazing theaters with 80+ foot screens, Atmos sound, 4K projectors and high quality popcorn to boot. They have a bar out front and if its an adult movie you can go in the living-room theaters (no kids) and drink some beers and eat dinner while watching the movie. They even have new mini theaters that fit 30ish people (40 foot screen) and look and feel like some of the big dogs home theaters you see here on the AVS forums (including star fields). They actually look and feel like home theaters. Even with my fancy home theater I go to every good movie that comes out at Cinetopia. I don't even go to our local Regals any more, I would rather wait for them to come out on Bluray at home. Cinetopia opened their first mega theater solo 5 years ago and have already built 2 more massive buildings due to the demand. Regal (all 5 theaters) are usually almost empty now.

BTW their Atmos is amazing. I had to be sitting something like 100+ feet from where ever they have their subs at and it thumps my chest more then my 2 12" Outlaw subs sitting within 5 to 10 feet from me.
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post #7 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 01:08 PM
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wow I just looked up cinetopia, words escape me on how awesome that theater is and the prices are better then our crummy cinemark here >.< man I wish we had one of those here.

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post #8 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by DavidK442 View Post

Bang-on. Kids may go to the theater for the social aspect (although sitting in silence in the dark probably doesn't even qualify), but watching movies in general just doesn't seem to be their thing. Not fast paced enough, not interactive enough, not social enough. They text, chat on Face book, watch U-tube, play video games...often all at the same time. My kids have full access to our home theater but most times only use it for gaming. Sitting still for 2 hours+ to watch a movie seldom holds their interest.
I really don't think bigger, better, louder is the answer for theaters either. I certainly notice performance issues in some theaters but I am an absolute minority. At most, the average person will complain about an uncomfortable seat or a noisey popcorn muncher but NEVER anything technical.
As for high ticket prices, a coworker of mine purchased a partial share of a movie theater as an investiment. He commented that by the time he pays royalties to the studies he is not in the theater business, but in the pop & popcorn business, because that is the only place they make money.

well yeah at $5.00 for something less then what you get in a microwave popcorn bag its easy to say thats where they make their money ~_~ thus why a lot of people smuggle in food..

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post #9 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
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I rarely go to the movies anymore. I always wait for a movie to come out on demand/blu-ray/etc. But I do go to the movies once and a while, but just for the sake of "going to the movies". It is still fun, once and a while.

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post #10 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 01:32 PM
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The "Movie Theaters" are dying because of two reasons.

1) Sh**tty contents. When was the last time you went to the theater and left with the feeling that you got what you paid for. Or when was the last time you had an experience at the theater that remains with you for years. The last time I had this experience was when I was a shopmore in college watching "Titanic" with the girlfriend.

2) Sky high prices. Do you know how much it cost to take the wife and 3 kids to the movies these days? We can save enough for a real family vacation, with a few movie outings.
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post #11 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by smokarz View Post

The "Movie Theaters" are dying because of two reasons.
1) Sh**tty contents. When was the last time you went to the theater and left with the feeling that you got what you paid for. Or when was the last time you had an experience at the theater that remains with you for years. The last time I had this experience was when I was a shopmore in college watching "Titanic" with the girlfriend.

I have had several great movie experiances like that on the XD 3D screens but...
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2) Sky high prices. Do you know how much it cost to take the wife and 3 kids to the movies these days? We can save enough for a real family vacation, with a few movie outings.

I complete agree with this, they need to slash their prices in half both on ticket pricing and on food, at the vary least if you show up with your own 3d glasses from the last time you watched a movie get some kind of discount on the 3d ticket price...

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post #12 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 01:49 PM
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My biggest problem with going to the movies is simply rude people. The loud talkers, cell phones/texting etc. I go to the theater to experience the movie not rude people and so the choice is easier now with my modest HT room.
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post #13 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 01:56 PM
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higher prices + crappy economy does not bode well for a recreational expenditure
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post #14 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 02:00 PM
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I have to admit I am a talker at a movie but not loud by any any means a small whisper to the person next to me, its fun from time to time not like your talking through out the whole movie just for a moment or two to comment on something like Why is Tony chest not glowing in the same shirt he wore that just the scene before it was glowing lol that sorta stuff.

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post #15 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 02:19 PM
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bad movie patrons are killing movie theaters, not technology. All I ever hear from serious movie fans is how much they hate people who text or talk during the movie.

Also, few people have the resources and space required to really make a THEATER experience. I can throw a 100" image up on a wall but that doesn't give me the same feeling I get from having my chair visibly rattled by 1000W theater speakers.

For that reason I will always go to the theater to watch the mega-blockbusters. For me, that's a pretty short list (Avengers is my last theater movie) but I'm not the world's biggest movie fanatic. I love watching movies at my house but they're no substitute for a proper theater
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post #16 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 02:42 PM
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My seat at home (transducers) rattles far more than it ever has at the theater. My PQ/AQ is far better at home than the theater. Why bother paying to see a movie in a drity place surrounded by hip hop degenerates and their minions.

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post #17 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 02:58 PM
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The missus and I saw a controversial (and not high budget) movie at the theater, the last movie we saw in the theater.

She turned to me on the way out and asked, "So what did you think?"

What had I been thinking for 90 minutes? One thing: "The sound in our home theater is way better than the muddy, hollow, rattling tin can I just sat through."

When we saw "The Dark Knight Rises" at the multiplex, we saw it in "Theater #1," the largest, featured theater within the multiplex at a major theater chain (in a well-to-do part of our city). There was a frickin burn hole in the middle of the screen. It looked like a bullet hole. Once I noticed it, I couldn't unsee it. It bugged the living crap out of me for 165 minutes. The cojones it takes to fleece customers for $22 a couple and then show the feature on a screen with a frickin' hole in the middle of it... Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

That one-two punch of bad quality cinema - never mind the talking yokels or the price of concessions - was the final straw. Screw the first run cinema experience.

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post #18 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 03:01 PM
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This thread got me thinking about the Indian Hills theater that used to be here in Omaha. It was the largest screen in North America, 110'x35' with a 148 degree curve for Cinerama. I'm too young to have seen a Cinerama movie on it, but that screen was amazing. Alas, they tore it down in 2001.

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post #19 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 03:09 PM
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I go out to the movies for one reason only - as a social event. I get together with my friends and we have a few beer at the local pub before heading in to the movies. I get the expensive popcorn and I munch it like hell during the movies and I chat quietly whilst watching. The movies should be loud enough where I can chat with my friend about a scene without disturbing people around me. This wasn't the case once, so I went and complained that it was too quiet and they turned it up.

If I want to sit down and absorb a movie fully without interruptions, I will stay at home and watch it on my home theater which substantially trumps the movie theater in terms of PQ and to a lesser extent AQ anyway.

But going back to the social aspect - I truly think that movies should be more social. There should be an intermission half way during the movie where people can go take a piss, chat about what has gone on in the movie so far, get their texting fix sated, etc. And maybe even have a sitting area (I really like the thought of being able to sit down and have a beer!). If kids can't sit through a whole movie, maybe this would help. Oh, and people would be much more likely to buy something during said intermission if the prices weren't so ridiculous.

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post #20 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Star56 View Post

My seat at home (transducers) rattles far more than it ever has at the theater. My PQ/AQ is far better at home than the theater. Why bother paying to see a movie in a drity place surrounded by hip hop degenerates and their minions.

Word smile.gif I remember going all the time during high school in the 90s. We used to go to AMC exclusively because they had a good student discount. Even the matinees we're a good deal. Not any more. Ticket prices are the biggest thing for me along with the dregs of society that attend. To me, there's no better movie experience than IMAX. But $18.50 for 3d IMAX? !$&@ that. I have to REALLY want to see something on the big screen to pay the premiums, and usually only do so if my friends are trying to get me to go. There's no good reason that a ticket should cost more than $10, $11 with the 3d premium. Don't even get me started on the food prices.
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post #21 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 04:06 PM
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Our local theaters are crap. Only go if the kids want to see something really badly.

I did get to see my first Imax movie (ever!) at a nice new cinema in Anchorage of all places. It was awesome. It was The Dark Night Rises. If I had access to a theater like that where I live I would go see the big action blockbusters at the theater. The way it is now with the crap we have my "home theater" of a 70" tv, 5 NHT Superzeros , DT SC sub, nice dark room, nice comfy sofa and a fridge full of cold beer a few steps away is MUCH better.

Unless we get an Imax I ain't going to the movies.

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post #22 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 04:23 PM
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I don't know about everyone else, but to me, my home theater sounds better than the regular theater. My wife also says the same thing. We saw the Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus at the theaters in IMAX and the audio was just loud and piercing but not very detailed.

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post #23 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 04:27 PM
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The prices are pretty outrageous, especially when you take into account all of the downsides the theater has with loud people, phones/texting, kicking of your seat, getting stuck behind the 8 foot tall guy, etc. My girlfriend also has a sanitary issue with them. Sure they come by and pick up the obvious garbage between showings, but it isn't truly cleaned.

I have a very modest HT built that is its infant stage but I still prefer movies at home. Of course when you think about the total cost of even a small build such as mine, about $5k searching for good deals (with about $2-$2.5K in gear left to buy), and you could definitely see a lot of movies and eat a ton of popcorn for that in theaters but would have nothing to show for it. For any of us that have spent the money at home, we've got the gear to keep/sell/trade, and can also watch TV and play music or even games if you're into that from the comfort of our couches. Also take into account that I'd have a TV regardless and it's really only a few grand spent at this point.

Regarding ticket sales, I'd say people that spend more than a couple grand on TV/HTIB are somewhat rare. I think it has more to do with the younger crowd and outrageous ticket prices. As others have said, young people seem to steal everything these days. They are okay with watching the most terrible quality copies of movies recorded at theaters on the most terrible screen/audio possible and somehow enjoy it. I wont even bother with that crap and never have, it's useless to me as it doesn't really tell the true story of the film - all you have left is the narrative when you watch it like that, if you can even understand the words. I recently took a trip with my GF for a couple days and when I got back I found that my step-son's friend had downloaded a torrent app on our home computer, I was livid! These kids these days are so okay with stealing they will go to somebody else's house and start stealing from their computer. Unbelievable. rolleyes.gif


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post #24 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel Chaves View Post

wow I just looked up cinetopia, words escape me on how awesome that theater is and the prices are better then our crummy cinemark here >.< man I wish we had one of those here.
we have cinetopia here in Washington and yes they are really awesome theaters and we go for that one movie that we have to see before we can buy it . we like the fact that you can go see a movie that's 21 and older and eat your food and not have any loud kids bothering you . food is a little more expensive but sight and sound is the best

if your ever in Oregon or Washington check them out
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post #25 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 05:43 PM
 
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yes!. if cinemas listen their customers they wouldn't have this issue. lower the prices!. you get better quality at home anway lol
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post #26 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 06:14 PM
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The movie theater is no way as satisfying as paying only $1.50 (!!!!!!!) for a Redbox Blu-Ray that I never saw before and watching it at home in comfortable clothes lounging with a blanket, and as many adult beverages and quality snacks I want. No hassle finding parking, paying for parking, no dealing with PITA customers, no WAITING ON LINE to get a good seat before the movie starts, being able to press pause if I have to take a leak, etc etc etc. I have NO qualms about missing movies in the theaters. Screw 'em for screwin' me!

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I used to like going... the ticket prices are what did it for me. It's just a big hassle now.
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post #27 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 06:51 PM
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The cinemas were once a great place to go, sadly not today.....
I was a cinema projectionist in top city theaters in Sydney and Auckland for some 35+ years, back when they cared about the customer. The only way I can reconnect with that magic that once was, is to take a visit each night to my home cinema. Lights, curtains, masking, "presentation" its the only place in town to find so much in one place:cool:

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post #28 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 07:28 PM
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Yeah, I only do IMAX. But I have been going to IMAX more frequently the last year or so because of 3D and IMAX special footage. Both are cost prohibitive to do as well in a home theater. Commercial theaters have an ROI on the equipment they buy. There is no ROI for home theaters. The only return is the enjoyment we get from them, so spending double in some cases on HT projection costs for such limited content doesn't make sense for a lot of people. So it's either accept sub standard 3D in the home, stick to 2D only, or go see the occasional 3D movie worth seeing at a commercial theater designed to give a quality 3D presentation.
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post #29 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 07:36 PM
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Why would anyone want to go to a movie and sit next to people noisily slurping soda and munching away on tubs of popcorn? A dedicated home theater with better sound and picture, a no brainier.
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post #30 of 254 Old 10-15-2012, 08:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabident View Post

Yeah, I only do IMAX. But I have been going to IMAX more frequently the last year or so because of 3D and IMAX special footage. Both are cost prohibitive to do as well in a home theater. Commercial theaters have an ROI on the equipment they buy. There is no ROI for home theaters. The only return is the enjoyment we get from them, so spending double in some cases on HT projection costs for such limited content doesn't make sense for a lot of people. So it's either accept sub standard 3D in the home, stick to 2D only, or go see the occasional 3D movie worth seeing at a commercial theater designed to give a quality 3D presentation.

I do enjoy the 3D IMAX film experience once in a while. Forgot about them. rolleyes.gif
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