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The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex

Tuesday 6 September 2011, 17:35

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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In this piece for the Culture Show I meet one of a dying breed - a projectionist - and also brave the local multiplex. Good? Bad? Let me know what you think of cineplexes.

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    Comment number 1.

    Terrifically done, Sir!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I've stopped going to see movies in those multiplexes, mostly because they don't show any movies that I actually want to see, or are worth the money. I stopped almost as soon as or some time after the cinema that had been there for over 75 years, closed down and was reduced to rubble.

    That place was great, it had an atmosphere, it was part of the town's history and they had projectionists and ushers, ushers who did tell kids off... And I didn't mind that the The X Files (Fight The Future) movie suddenly stopped, turned upside down and started going backwards. The problem was sorted in 5 minutes... because there was a PERSON on hand to sort it out. And it's a memory that has stuck with me and I always smile when remembering it. :-) I also saw The Exorcist in there, I was the only person in the theatre on a very windy day, the wind was so strong it was blowing through the building causing the doors to bang, it added to the experience.

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    Comment number 3.

    Finally, somebody has drawn attention to this issue of 'the invisible projectionist', nice one Mark!

    I'll hereby like to name and shame one particular cinema, Odeon Tunbridge Wells, as being a terrible example of said invisibility with it's regularly uncorrected anamorphic projections. THEY DRIVE ME INSANE!

    In 2010 I was witness to four separate screenings where the audience just sat, angrily shouting out, to an evidently invisible projectionist, that something was wrong with the picture. Each time this has been the dreaded uncorrected 2.35.1 aspect ratio -or 'stretchy heads' as termed by regulars at this particular Odeon.

    Despite complaints, this year has seen at least another three occasions of this problem reoccurring. It's clearly all down to 'the invisible projectionist' syndrome, and at £8.50 for a standard priced seat, it's a bloody outrage!

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    Comment number 4.

    A praiseworthy campaign, though the errors you described are far more likely to be attributable to a (negligent) projectionist using a traditional 35mm projector than an automated digital machine gone awry. You're pretty dang unlikely to get a rack in a Digital projector, have the film spooled incorrectly (or alternating reels joined wrongly), or miss a lens change. You're far more likely to have no sound or the screen masking fail to resize, however. Don't get me wrong, however, I was a projectionist for some time at an independent cinema and support your idea. The problem comes when there is a mix of 35mm & digital screenings in a theatre and staffing levels only commensurate with all digital screenings.

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    Comment number 5.

    Having read the book I was astonished to see that I wasn't the only person to be told "well no one's complaining" about the focus or sound or a section of picture spilling over - as if to say I am not someone but something less.


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