During construction, I kept thinking about what movie I'd show first when the room was done (I was optimistic that I'd actually finish). The film had to meet a few technical requirements to properly present all the cool theater features, which meant it had to be a 2.35 scope film. It must have a reference-quality image transfer (ruling out most 'classics', just for this showing), an active surround soundtrack, and be a darn good movie! Something that could be described as "an excellent film" and "an audio/visual feast" is what I needed.
I disqualified all Pixar films - way too easy on the A/V side. Fifth Element also DQ'ed for obvious A/V demo ubiquity...
Given the criteria, and as it was a relatively new BD release at the time, I found what I thought was a good choice:
Now, as a *lot* of my friends know that the theater has been under construction, there's no way I can fit everyone into one showing. My original plan would show Inception three times over a weekend, but the more I thought about it, the more I decided that was going to be a chore for me! So instead, I chose to show it only once. Then I picked four more films, inviting all my friends to pick a show over the course of a weekend. So including Opening Night, the weekend looked like this:
- Inception (Opening Night)
- Despicable Me (Matinee)
- Black Swan
- The Incredibles (Matinee)
- The Social Network
And yes, after Opening Night, I waived the animation rule, as it also allowed friends with kids to come enjoy together. Since then I've gone back to my normal movie night habits - any kids in tow get to watch something else in "Theater B", on the little 60" display downstairs... As long as they've got popcorn, they all seem fine with it!
I picked Despicable Me and Black Swan because they were new releases. The Incredibles because, well, it's The Incredibles! And The Social Network turns out to be a great film for the theater - the soundtrack's dynamic range is fantastic and Fincher's vision makes for an awesome presentation.
So for Opening Night, I have to put the whole CIH show on. Dim the lights to the "pre-show" seting, and start with a cartoon, by tradition, in 4:3 and mono sound. Another obvious choice: "What's Opera Doc". Quickly switch to 1.85 and up the A/V technical difficulty with the THX "Amazing Life" trailer.
Then dim the lights to their final "cinema" setting, hit the 2.35 button and start Inception... This all works much better by having the discs cued up and paused (just watch out for screen savers and timeouts) - and would be much easier if I ripped everything to a media server with a playlist (yeah, on my list...).
Just before starting the cartoon, as everyone acquired a beverage and popcorn and took a seat, I went to grab a camera. I came back to explain where the power-recline button was, and found the gang like this:
(Yeah, they figured out the recliners...)
I've known all these friends for fifteen years or more. Sharing good times with them is why you build these things to begin with.
(Alan got a front row seat for helping with the screen install!)
Now, I wouldn't necessarily recommend showing 5 films over the course of three days. I made a lot of drinks and popcorn, and just cleaning and resetting between films became a chore - I felt like a theater owner! Come to think of it, why didn't I hire some teenagers to run the concessions? But with around 40 people (not counting me) attending one of the five films, it was a great time. I had a mix of crowd sizes, from a full house to just a couple of folks, and it was curious how different the room feels when it's full versus just with two or three people. Not bad or good, just a different experience.
Since then I've done a "movie night" at least once a month, a UFC or other sports event almost as frequently, and of course many more times to watch movies myself (though still not as many I used to). The theater was also a welcome addition to my annual Super Bowl party - I never had folks actually sit and watch the whole game before now.
I've shown the following films (you'll notice they do tend to be 'scope...) for groups of friends:
- Super 8
- True Grit (2010)
- Moon (2009)
- Source Code
- Heat (probably my favorite movie, period)
- United 93
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
I used to only have "movie nights" to show stuff I'd seen and knew was good - I've changed that habit now, seeing at least half of those for the first time. So far, no duds!
Edited by jautor - 6/6/12 at 5:41pm
Next up, The Bottom Line...