Mamo #235: The Year Keeps Ending, And We Keep Ending With It

Part 2 of our 2011 wrap-up! We look at how the industry fared for the year – not enough money, too much 3-D, and a whole lotta superheroes. Which franchises were born? Which were renewed? Which [cough Green Lantern cough] are dead, dead, dead?

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo235.mp3

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Gomez
Guest

Love me some MAMO!

Andrew James
Admin

Holy smokes. The thought that Benedict Cumberbatch could play “Q” in the new Star Trek movie has me shaking. Star Trek would instantly become one of my most anticipated films of the year should that come true. Mostly just for having “Q” in the story; but I think Cumberbatch would be PERFECT for that role. WOW, I get chills thinking about how awesome that would be.

Matt Price
Guest

Q is the best idea TNG, or any incarnation of Trek ever had, and is easily the best candidate for a Nolan style reimagining. I am doubtful that Bad Robot will see the potential in it, or that they would be brave enough to mix in TNG concepts to their current ST continuity.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

This surprised me when I found out, but Bérénice Bejo WAS in an English-language film. She had a role in A Knight’s Tale back in 2001.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

I will also join in on the whole Cineplex disillusionment. I still go to Cineplex (and AMC) as a means to an end, though the truth is I’m pushing 30 and it is really starting to annoy me going to a busy multiplex with kids half my age texting and talking during the movie. I also want to go on record and say that I hate the Cineplex pre-show with a passion (especially when they hype some direct-to-DVD film like it’s must-see entertainment).

A local movie theatre I went to as a teenager re-openned last year (after being closed for 8 years) and I do have to say that I much better enjoy seeing movies there (even though there is often a single-digit turn-out).

Andrew James
Admin

Hey Sean,

I very often go down to the “run down” multiplex for this very reason. No stadium seating and once in a while there’s a small hole in the screen or something, but I’m willing to deal with it because no one is there. 7pm Friday screening of Planet of the Apes and it’s me and like 30 other people. Nice! Plus it’s cheaper.

I am MORE THAN WILLING to give up the “ultimate experience” for some Andrew time in a theater with no people. Plus it feels (and smells; mmmm) like a theater of the 80s and there’s nostalgia value in that.

But 9/10 I’m at one of the three Landmark’s in town so it’s kind of a moot point.

Matt Gamble
Guest

The Mann is actually more expensive than my theatre, Andrew. Probably why it is going out of business.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

When I’ve seen movies in the SilverCity in Oakville at the 19+ VIP screens, they are always packed. I really think there’s a place for 19+ theatres, especially last night having seen Sherlock Homes last night with parents in the back row who brought their young kid (5 years old?) because they didn’t want to pay for babysitting.

X-men: First Class made $353 million world wide. I think another X-men 1960’s or 1970’s movie is still possible. Especially as so many people liked it compared to X3 and Wolverine. I also feel like this is a movie people will find on DVD as so many seemed to be turned off of X-men after X3.

Transformers has made too much money for the franchise to die with Michael Bay. Someone will make Transformers movies after Michael Bay leaves (I hope really soon).

Oh and Q in the current Star Trek reboot would be amazing. Even if they don’t use Q for the whole movie, I agree that he’s a great character that a lot more could be done with.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

I have way more trouble with the arthouse theatres here (not Landmark – I rarely go there because it’s as expensive as Arclight and further away). I never get through a movie at the Laemmle without one group of old people loudly telling each other what’s going on in the movie and another group loudly shushing them, which isn’t effective. I just pay up for Arclight now for limited release stuff, or go to the AMC, which is surprisingly annoyance-free, for mainstream stuff. It’s kind of bothersome, because I would RATHER support independent theatres like Laemmle, but the experience is just so much worse.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

On average it costs me about $17.50 go to to the movies (at Cineplex) – $13 for the ticket and $4.50 for a medium drink, those prices including the 10% Scene discount on concessions. I rarely get popcorn and if I do, I only the get small, which is the most “normal” portion they sell.

I’ve been trying to cut down on the number of movies I see, since I don’t currently have a steady income. That said, I do frequently see films at the TIFF Bell Lightbox because it costs me next to nothing to go (I regularly volunteer for TIFF and get ticket vouchers)

Andrew James
Admin

Sean. Be a smuggler. It’s worth it and if you’re good about it, the theaters generally don’t care.

As for VIP, I’ve learned I really don’t care for it. You feel a little special bringing in your martini to the theater, but that wears off quickly when you realize how far away from the screen you are and the sound isn’t quite as effective. I prefer regular seating. Third row after the bowl.

@Matt, we’ve had this talk before. Getting to your theater on the bus from my place is literally a three hour trip (at best). I can walk to Landmark or bus to Mann in 15 minutes.

It’s too bad old fashioned “real” theaters are going out of business. I really enjoy the nostalgia factor. A couple of old school arcades in the corner. The smell of stale butter and coke stuck to the floor. That ridiculous carpeting with all the stars and swirls on it. The big marquee with all the real light bulbs flashing up and down. No digital movie times flashing all over the place. It feels like the late 80’s in those places and I love it.

Matt Gamble
Guest

You can’t walk or bike from Mann? It’s less than two miles away.

Andrew James
Admin

If it means that much to you Matt, yes I could load my bike on to the bus and come over to your theater. Or walk.

Of course that would mean I’d have to walk/bike home. I think i’m too lazy for that.

Andrew James
Admin

But again, I like the atmosphere there.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

The reason I usually get only a drink is less about cost and more about bladder.

Matt Gamble
Guest

You’ll love the atmosphere when its bulldozed. Nice and airy.

Andrew James
Admin

Matt, I understand you have a conflict of interest and can’t really say publicly that you appreciate any theater other than your own; but in general do you pretty much only prefer the theaters with the biggest screen, the loudest (THX approved) speakers and contemporary atmosphere possible? In other words, do you feel completely inconvenienced or like you’re not getting the “whole experience” at other, smaller theaters that have been around for ages? Personally, I like Hopkins, Parkway, Riverview, etc. for their charm and warmth. It sounds like you’re actually happy these companies are going out of business. There’s a time and place for the “ultimate experience” too, but for me, I like the smell and atmosphere of a real movie theater as opposed to something that feels like a plastic Hotel or airport jetway.

I think this could honestly be one reason (of many) why a lot of people are choosing to stay home and watch movies these days. It simply doesn’t feel like “going to the movies” anymore. It feels more like a chore until you’re finally in your seat.

Andrew James
Admin

In this episode the Mamo!s actually touch on this briefly. I’d like other’s opinions on this:

Do you guys like the most up to date technology and “awesomeness” when going to the movies or do you prefer a sense of nostalgia of what a theater is “supposed” to be like?

Matt Gamble
Guest

No, I recommend other theatres in town all the time and can freely recommend whoever I want. And lest you forget I worked for Landmark for 6 years. I had my reasons for leaving that company, but it certainly wasn’t because I needed the newest technology, that stuff was a bonus.

The Heights is bar none the best theatre in town, and it isn’t very close. Riverview and Trylon are both outstanding. The Uptown is great, screens 2 & 4 at The Edina are probably the two best places to watch an Indy film in town (though Screen 1 at The Lagoon is pretty awesome as well), Screen 3 at St Anthony Main is the best auditorium to watch a genre film. Hopkins is a very solid theatre and Parkway is working its ass off to get better and better. Heck, I even admire the shit out of Brooklyn Center’s theatre because they are doing their damndest to show Bollywood films, and doing pretty well at it.

I’m happy the Mann is going out of business because it is a poorly run company, who has no respect for its customers, builds badly constructed theatres (and invests nothing in their maintenance) and has had a wage freeze on its employees for the last 8 years. Quit frankly, I can’t think of a worse place in town to give your money if you like movies. Because the owners of the Mann chain don’t care about movies. And Ebert just made a very strong argument that chains like the Mann (and unfortunately there are a shit ton of them across the country) are the reason why customers are staying away. They are being ripped off by these companies and they are sick of investing their time and money with them.

I defend theatre chains pretty regularly on this site and on the show, but few things piss me off more than chains that refuse to invest any money in the infrastructure of their buildings. Its a huge problem that exists and is causing people to stay away. Take the Lagoon for example, it was built in 1993 and it already has a structural problem with its roof, that is going to cause it to collapse sometime in the near future. Has Landmark done anything about it? Nope. Because they don’t see value in the physical plant but rather rely on people to come to their theatres because they are run down and falling apart. Will they care when the roof inevitably collapses and kills someone? Yeah, but only because they will have to actually spend some money at that point, which hurts their bottom line. Hell, The Uptown was absolutely shredded by the Mpls/St Paul Magazine this summer because it has been a shit box for over 30 years. I managed there, and I know the staff that works there now work their asses off to just keep that place looking as nice as it is now. Investing their free time and their own money to paint and repair whatever they can that the companies billionaire owner doesn’t want to spend. And every Landmark Theatre is like that. Staff who make almost nothing working like crazy and investing their heart and souls into keeping these great theatres from literally collapsing on their customer’s heads.

I don’t think it is much for a consumer to ask that if they are going to pay five, ten, fifteen or whatever the ticket price is that the company they are giving that money too actually reinvests some of it back into the theatre. Maintaining the physical plant, pushing for better films, offering more options at the concession stand, paying the staff a living wage, or whatever. Unfortunately, too many chains think that is too much to ask, which is a shame. Film fans deserve better.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

When I was a teenager in the mid-90s, I would walk to one of the two dual-screened theatres in my neighbourhood, pay less than $10 for a matinee (at one point less than $5), and have an experience that is much better than today’s corporate multiplexes.

Both those theatres closed within 5 years of each other in the late 90s/early 2000s, but an entrepreneur reopened one of them last year (to mixed results).

Kurt
Guest

My 6 Desires For A Good Theatre Going Experience. Something the Exhibitors have the power to control – and the criteria upon how I judge which actual bricks-and-mortar cinema to attend:

1 Proper light intensity. Clear sound.
This is beyond obvious and shouldn’t have to be listed, but here you have it –> The audio does not have to be ear busting (in fact preferably not, thanks) but it should be clean and clear with no fuzzy speakers. Death to cinemas with dim projection standards.

2) The Show Starts On Time. The Proper Posted Time on the Ticket.
I’m willing to concede that the trailers can be a part of the ‘show’ (it’d be great if they moved them to the end, after the credits) but commercials of any kind (see below) should never be shown past the time on the stub.

3) No commercials. Period.
I will happily pay an extra $2 on ticket price if that cash goes directly to the cinema/exhibitor and avoids Coke/Toyota/Koodoo/THX/DolbySurround/SceneCard/JoinTheArmy/Milk/MovieticketsDOTcom commercials. TIFF Lightbox, for their rep screenings at least, start the movie exactly at the start time, not even a theatre/sound/tech logo. This is the way it should be. Hell, even one of the dirt malls in Mississauga ($7 per show, CentralParkwayCinemas) does not show ads. If the by-the-skin-of-their-teeth dirt mall can do with out, please let the multiplexes learn a thing or two.

4) No fast food in the lobby (but thanks for offering coffee).
I don’t mind a wide variety of candy, pretzels and other foodstuffs that do not make huge amount of noise (or undesirable smells) in the cinema, but greasy foodstuffs like french fries, nachos and hot-dogs have far too much grease-stench, with the unfortunate bonus of noisy packaging in the dark. It was a minor miracle when the cinemas started selling Coffee and Tea at their concession stands as an alternative to soda or Icees or $4 bottled water; I thank goodness for this small innovation.

5) Give employees the empowerment to boot out loud talkers and texters in the cinema.
For many people, the courtesy PSA in the front of the showing (“please turn your phone off, please don’t text, please don’t disrupt!”) is not enough to keep their cellphone off during the film. For the bulk of the audience (I’m assuming) that is there to actually see the film, rather than goof off and check their email or text messages) booting out offending parties would win customers, not lose them. (The Alamo Drafthouse proudly leads the way on this one!)

6) Cineplex “TIME-PLAY” DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE!!!
This is interactive pre-show text-message/phone-app advertising offered at the worst violating multiplex-chain here in Canada. From their point of view, “Time Play” makes sense, this cinema is more about selling ad space than showing films. In execution, at this point, letting people control the advertisement from their seats by cellphone interaction is beyond inane, and simply does the evil deed of lowering barriers between cell phone use and cinema seats. In the history of Cineplex ‘innovations’ at the mutliplex, I only expect it to get worse (if not more inane!) as they figure out and refine this ‘service. CINEPLEX MIDDLE MANAGERS ONLY SEE BOTTOM LINE AND IGNORE CUSTOMER SATISFACTION – A BLIND SPOT NOT TO SEE THAT THESE TWO THINGS ARE INHERENTLY CONNECTED (Or maybe I’m the idiot for suggesting something like cause and effect).

Albeit, I am far more like the customer Matt Brown outlined in this MAMO! i.e. I don’t buy concessions, I see a lot of movies, often by myself.

———

postscript: please, exhibitors, bring back CURTAINS, they add a touch of class as they open to signal the start of a show.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

I hate to correct you on something so obnoxious, but the interactive ads are called TIMEplay.

Andrew James
Admin

I’ve never heard of this Time Play thing. Sounds like an awful idea.

The food thing doesn’t bother me. In fact, I like theaters attached to restaurants in which I can bring in my entire meal. Matt’s theater is like this and I know of at least two others in our area. I’d rather someone eating a hamburger than a loud bag of crunchy and shaky popcorn. So I completely disagree with this point. The rest, totally!

Here’s another: I’m not a fan of trailers anymore. I know I’m in the minority on this point and I understand all the reasons why they’re there and why people like them. But for me, IF I want to see a trailer, I see it online. I’ll be pleased as punch if I can actually get into the Batman movie without ever having seen one frame of the film beforehand. An impossibility I know, but I can dream. Albert Nobbs is a great example. There is not a chance in hell I am going to see that movie. I’ve seen that awful trailer so many times now that I literally almost start to feel ill when it comes on.

Andrew James
Admin

And lastly, I quite often go to the theater with the cheapest ticket price I can find.

Oh, and 2D.

Andrew James
Admin

And for the record, THIS is a theater that I want to go to:

NOT this:

Kurt
Guest

Matt: I am working on cleaning it up (grammar-wise) and possibly moving it out to a more round number like 10. Perhaps consulting Gamble on some of the more financial and marketing considerations would round things out as an act of constructive criticism rather than the more bullish-manifesto tone. Look for it…

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

TimePlay is something that was introduced in Cineplex theatres about a month ago. Essentially, you download the app to your Smartphone or iPod Touch (there’s a special WiFi network for it set up in the a theatres). If you don’t have a smartphone, there is a special number you can call.

Currently, TimePlay consists of two interactive ads. The first (and most lame) is a Ford commercial, where you vote to see more of a guy or more of a girl (most people who play vote the girl). The second is actually kind of fun and is a Canon ad, where you flick to remove the blur from the screen. Depending on how well you do, you get a different priced coupon sent to your device.

I’ve participated in TimePlay a few times when it first started, but now I (like everyone else) don’t really care.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

Oh and while we are posting pictures of movie theatres we prefer, here are photos I took of the local cinema I was talking about (the Humber) when it reopened last year: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjurm8QB

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Hey, if they set up a grid on the screen and you could play tetris or Angry Birds or something using their projector, well that might have been fun, but the interactivity is with ADVERTISING, and it’s lame and clunky at best. This is not an a technology at its infancy, this is an idea conceived by infantile minds.

And it has to be stressed, the multiplex is ENCOURAGING the use of cellphones in their auditoriums. This is tantamount (despite a very brief, please turn your phone off for the show) to sanctioning texting or whatnot during the movie.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

The sad thing with texting in movie theatres is that the people don’t care. I once (angrily) told two (older) women to turn off their phone and they just laughed at how irate I was.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

That’s a movie theatre? I’ve been to press screenings in buildings like that, but… If you’re just using a random corporate building to make a point, it’s an unfair one. I was here at Christmas, and it was a pretty awesome theatre all around:

This is the best theatre in Los Angeles, and it’s got 12 screens:

I’m not immune to the charms of old-school theatres – this one is fantastic, but rarely playing the film I want to see on their one screen, so I’ve only been there once:

Theatre-choosing is a combination of cost, availability, picture and sound quality, and the types of audiences the theatre tends to attract. I tend to limit the theatres I go to by the audience type, then choose among those based on the first three. I realize I have it good in LA. The other theatre we went to at home in St. Louis was an AMC, and they turned the lights all the way up as soon as the credits started rolling. They never do that in LA, even at the AMC. They may turn up some softer lights and some people do leave, but a good portion of them stay. We stayed for the credits at the one in St. Louis with the lights up, but I kept feeling like the employees who were waiting to clean up the theatre were about to rush us and whack us with brooms until we left.

I’m not fussed on food like Kurt is – I prefer quiet food like that to the irritating noise of popcorn. Seriously, who decided that something that loud would be the right thing to associate with moviegoing? Nachos I personally like eating, but they’re even noisier, so I don’t. Alamo Drafthouse in Austin has full meals in-theatre, and that’s awesome. I’ve never seen it be disruptive, even when waiters are bringing stuff during the movie.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

That complaint about greasy foods actually reminded me of my Forest Whitaker story: A few years ago, me and my cousin went to our usual multiplex (Cineplex Queensway) to see American Gangster.

As it turned out, Forest Whitaker (who I believe was in Toronto shooting Repo Men) was at the theatre and he was trying to find free seats for him and his wife. The person sitting next to us had minor ties to the industry and arranged for them to join our row.

So, for the entire movie, Forest Whitaker was sitting right next to my cousin (and two seats away from me) and the biggest memory my cousin had from that experience was….being disgusted by the way Whitaker was eating the french fries he brought in with him. 😛

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

We should revive that column, Kurt.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Yep. Lightbox, Toronto Underground, and The Revue in Toronto all deserve entries in this series. I shall endeavour to write a few more of these up.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

Any theatres are game, even new ones? Well, Lightbox is pretty new, right? I just mean, they don’t have to be old-timey classic theatres… I can name at least eight or nine in LA that would be fun to write up.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I’d say that any cinema that offers a particularly unique or great movie-going experience is fair game, Jandy. We should solicit readers to write these up too and publish them on the site.

David Brook
Admin

Damn, I wish I had a choice of theatres to go to. In Lincoln we have ONE cinema, which is a shitty chain theatre (Odeon) that shows mainstream stuff only. The closest decent cinema is an hour drive away. Plus, because they’re the only cinema in town they get away with charging far more than all the other Odeons in the country (other than one or two in the centre of London).

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

Yeah, David, that sucks. And I know that’s the position a lot of people are in, so I know that just saying “well, go to another theatre if you don’t like yours” isn’t really helpful all the time. On the flipside, when I hear people say “going to the theatre sucks” (and I hear that a lot), I tend to assume that’s their situation, because it doesn’t HAVE to suck. But it does make it hard, because if you can’t protest bad theatres by going to better ones, the only thing to do is not go at all, and then everybody loses. Except the giant TV manufacturers and Netflix, I guess. 🙂

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

I already moved to LA for the theatre selection, Matt. 🙂 I’m fine here where it’s nice and warm.

Andrew James
Admin

Heh. I have actually considered moving to Toronto. Two things stop me (well several actually, but these are the two biggest) – 1, moving to another country just sounds difficult logistically (i.e. a pain in the ass). 2 – I honestly like that I cover film from this corner of the globe. Moving to Toronto would just put me in with “everyone else”. Granted the Cinecast would be a lot easier and more people to go to movies with. But I like having the diversity.

PS – I saw “A Dangerous Method” two weeks ago. If you’re in Toronto, you did not.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Well, in theory, we could have saw A DANGEROUS METHOD way back in September 2011, but the TIFF festival sure did make it hard, even those of us with limited press access (I failed to get to three different screenings due to logistical difficulties and at least one festival faux-pas…

Matthew Fabb
Guest

**THIS COMMENT GOT FLAGGED AS SPAM – OUR APOLOGIES FABB**

Andrew James, this TimePlay is a Toronto area only thing right now. They are testing it out there to see how it does before they decide whether or not to roll it out elsewhere.

The Oakville Silvercity VIP theater that I was talking about was a newer theatre with great sound and screen. You can get as close or far away as you want as the whole theatre is set up this way. VIP gets you bigger seats, no teenagers, assigned seating so you can pick that 3rd row after the bowl and a slight increased price tag that seems to bring in only people who won’t distrubt your movie.

Here’s the picture of one the inside of SilverCity Oakville:
http://www.meetingscanada.com/Cineplex-Entertainment-LP_6209e.jsf

Only problem is since adding 3D projectors is that any movie available in 3D will only show in 3D, so I have to go elsewhere to see 2D screenings.

“Do you guys like the most up to date technology and “awesomeness” when going to the movies or do you prefer a sense of nostalgia of what a theater is “supposed” to be like?”

I like stadium seating and most that comes with a modern theatre with the exception of 3D. I also like seats with a flip up arm rest when I see movies with my wife.

“I’ll be pleased as punch if I can actually get into the Batman movie without ever having seen one frame of the film beforehand.”

That’s my plan and it’s worked for me for other popular movies. I just saw the new Sherlock without seeing anything more than the poster artwork. Generally I take a washroom break as the trailers start. I will even go as far as shut my eyes and cover my ears if it’s a trailer to a movie that I really want to go into spoiler free. Which for me is most movies I want to see where I don’t know the story (so I don’t mind watching the Hobbit, Scott Pilgrim, etc). Of course, it also helps that I don’t have cable at home (it’s all Netflix, web & DVD’s for me) so I will never see a movie commercial on tv.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Returning to this old thread to mention that it looks like I was right as news has come out today that an X-men: First Class sequel is in the works, with Matthew Vaughn directing again and Bryan Singer producing.

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