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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently, within the past year, and much to my dismay, Cinemark Theaters, which is the 3rd largest exhibitor of movies in the US, with over 430 theaters including Rave, Century, and Tinseltown brands stopped exhibiting 2.35:1 (scope) movies properly. In an email to its theaters, Cinemark Management requested that theaters disable top and bottom masking on all screens and in all theaters earlier this year.

This unfortunately is not limited to Cinemark. Regal theaters, which is arguably the largest theater chain with over 588 theaters, including Regal, Edwards and United Artists theaters, also disabled all top and bottom masking.

I noticed the difference right away and to me it ruined the spectacle of a well shot widescreen film. I complained to management but this led to them telling me this was a corporate decision.

This means some of my most anticipated films of the year, Star Wars, Spectre, and the Hateful Eight (which has an even wider aspect ratio), among others are projected essentially on what are public TVs with giant gray bars on the top and bottom of the picture. :( In my area at least, there is no theater I can visit that will allow to see these projected the way they were intended. I love 2.35:1 movies and my home theater's CIH setup does a better job than most of these theaters but I love going to the movies.

Does this bother anyone else as much as is it does me? I Can we do anything about it?
 

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wow, that's pretty sad.

I've also heard of some AMC Prime theaters not having masks on but that the black levels due to the HDR were so good that it was barely noticeable.

can't imagine it in a normal theater; it drives me crazy at home, though it's a pain to put up my homemade ones it's worth it...

I'll bet the average movie goer could care less...
 

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Seems like it would be easier to just do constant height and use side masking, since that isn't terribly complex to do.
 

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I thought there was a constant race for theaters and movie studios to innovate to bring to their audiences an experience that can't be achieved in an average home, and here I read that they have brought one aspect of the average home to the theaters: the letterbox bars.

It wouldn't surprise me if this cause producers to start favoring 1.85:1 over 2.35:1 for most of their movies since the desired effect of 2.35:1 is being thwarted by the largest theater chains, at least in the United States.

If I have to put up with letterbox bars, at least at home I normally don't notice them after a few minutes into a movie.
 

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I noticed this trend (in Canada) a couple of years ago - all new (including renovated) theaters use a 16:9 screen with no masking for scope movies. To be honest, I see a properly masked screen as a nice to have, not as an absolute necessity. Yes, it's noticeable, but I don't pay attention to it once the movie starts, in the same way I don't focus on the black bars when watching movies on my LCD. As long as the screen is big enough, then the same level of immersion is still present.
 

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Where the masking really helps is dark scenes. Without it, you can't tell where the image stops which I find very distracting.

And yes both AMC Prime theaters in KC have no masking. Home theater wins again.
 

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What worries me is that trends that start in America usually spreads to the rest of the world.

16:9 screens don't belong in a "normal" theater.
 

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can't imagine it in a normal theater; it drives me crazy at home, though it's a pain to put up my homemade ones it's worth it...
You can relieve that pain with an anamorphic lens, and recapture a third more of your projector's brightness while you're at it.
 

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Most AMCs with masking have stopped using it - it costs too much to maintain the systems that move the masks, and frankly people don't care anyway.

At least here in the Denver metro area, I can name only two or three theaters that do 2.35:1 the proper way - opening the screen wider - than do things the AMC way where a 2.35:1 image is actually smaller, letterboxed onto the 1.85:1 screen. :(

This is further complicated by films like Jurassic World and its 2.0:1 AR.

DEVISING A NEW ASPECT RATIO FOR THE DINOSAURS OF JURASSIC WORLD
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Most AMCs with masking have stopped using it - it costs too much to maintain the systems that move the masks, and frankly people don't care anyway.

At least here in the Denver metro area, I can name only two or three theaters that do 2.35:1 the proper way - opening the screen wider - than do things the AMC way where a 2.35:1 image is actually smaller, letterboxed onto the 1.85:1 screen. :(

This is further complicated by films like Jurassic World and its 2.0:1 AR.

DEVISING A NEW ASPECT RATIO FOR THE DINOSAURS OF JURASSIC WORLD
So AMC, Regal and Cinemark have done away with masking? Whoa! That's almost every theater in America. So none of the chains show 2.35:1 movies as wider. So sad. I agree that few people care. I tried to drum up a email/twitter campaign for cinemark on Reddit but no one cared and my post got buried. The black bars bothers me though. Does Alamo drafthouse do 2.35:1 as wider or at least with masking?

Do the directors/studios care how their carefully filmed and produced content is presented?
 

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What bothers me is that with the crappy contrast most cinema digital projectors have its more like medium gray bars instead of black bars.
 

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So AMC, Regal and Cinemark have done away with masking? Whoa! That's almost every theater in America. So none of the chains show 2.35:1 movies as wider. So sad. I agree that few people care. I tried to drum up a email/twitter campaign for cinemark on Reddit but no one cared and my post got buried. The black bars bothers me though. Does Alamo drafthouse do 2.35:1 as wider or at least with masking?

Do the directors/studios care how their carefully filmed and produced content is presented?
None is harsh, but a better way of saying it would be no new theatres.

For example, in Denver the Regal Continental RPX does open wider for 2.35:1 but it also is a theater that dates from the 1960s.

Their new construction theatres all use 1.85:1 screens with the picture letterboxed to fit.

The recently remodeled AMC theatres don't use masking at all, but the ones that have been around a decade or so do (or at least did before they were told to just leave them open to 1.85:1.)

So yes, the major movie chains have pretty much abandoned masking and the concept that 2.35:1 films are supposed to be more impressive than 1.85:1 rather than be smaller and wider.

Quite frankly the majority of their viewers have grown up with letterboxed images on TV and wouldn't know how things were "supposed" to be anyway as they're fine watching most content on their phone screens. :(
 

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What bothers me is that with the crappy contrast most cinema digital projectors have its more like medium gray bars instead of black bars.
Note this depends on the venue, and is often due to sloppy technique.

For example, when a local AMC theater I knew had better blacks in the past recently relamped all their Sony 4K projectors, they did not bother to recalibrate so continued to use the "old bulb" settings and the increased brightness from the lamp raised black levels to medium grey.

When I finally found the right person in management to complain to, they did recalibrate and the black levels are back to what they once were.
 

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Note this depends on the venue, and is often due to sloppy technique.

For example, when a local AMC theater I knew had better blacks in the past recently relamped all their Sony 4K projectors, they did not bother to recalibrate so continued to use the "old bulb" settings and the increased brightness from the lamp raised black levels to medium grey.

When I finally found the right person in management to complain to, they did recalibrate and the black levels are back to what they once were.
I actually didn't mean to blame the projectors themselves, those commercial Sony's are sweet, it's more a matter of what they are trying to accomplish and other problems that rob the image of good levels. One is bad calibration like you said, the other is lighting left on in the auditorium. Primarily the job of commercial projectors is to be a light cannon that can light up a 50 foot screen. They aren't meant to have particularly dark blacks. The matter is just made worse because of light pollution. Visible letter-boxing is just going to make things worse.
 

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I agree it's very sad, but apparently the rise of the multiplex seems to have increased revenue from the cinema gong public (at least here in the UK), so I can see the trend staying.

What is ironic, is that back in the 50s, studios were trying to find something to get people back into theatres and away from their 4:3 TVs which matched the screens in the theatres, so came up with wider screens and Cinemascope was the 'winning' format. Now they're doing the opposite by just providing bigger TVs and I wonder if eventually people are going to realise their big tv at home (65"+ are very affordable now, and 75" not far behind) no longer looks small compared to the theatre, and end up staying home and waiting for the BD (or UHD BD).

Judging by comments from people on various parts of this forum and on the UK forum I visit, not many know, realise or care that scope movies should be the largest, widest format other than IMAX, and think that seeing a scope movie with black bars above and below is normal and acceptable. Then they say how much better 16:9 looks. Even when presented with illustrated documents from the likes of Dolby, THX, CEDIA and camera company RED (amongst others), they still don't believe it and want all films to be 16:9 because they want movies to fill their screens.

With that in mind, what chance do we have?

Gary
 
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