After realizin’, to master enterprisin’
I ain’t have to be in school by ten, I was in.
Began to encounter, with my counter-parts,
I holler: “burn the block apart.” Break it down into sections, drugs by the selection
Some use pipes, others use injections.


This week brings Robert Zemeckis’s rather terrible A Christmas Carol to the big screens. And by big screens, I mean Imax and Imax-mini, or whatever the fuck they calling what Aziz Ansari reported to be the bullshit Imax screens that also populate theaters (see here). A Christmas Carol is also partly 3-D which is one of the driving forces behind the marketing.

Right now 3-D is the big thing, just as digital projection was bucking its head as an issue in 2005. The problem is for both it costs money for the theater operators to upgrade. And theater owners are lazy. Well, not lazy, so much as not really willing to invest in the big new thing, which seem to come every couple of years.

To take it back twenty, THX was a big thing for a while. Lucasfilms would come to theaters and master the sound levels of the theater supposedly guaranteeing the best presentation. This held some sway then came Dolby Digital, which gave better sound for theatrical releases (they added sound room in between the sprockets!), and then came DTS (a separate disc synced to the film), and all the other variants. Digital sound is still a big deal, but depending on what theater you go to, you’re not sure if it’s available. This process also lead to numerous (at least on my end) technical difficulties. When I saw Casino theatrically, the DTS was not syncing right, which led to the sound strobing in volume. If there’s any technical problems with the print, you got a shitty presentation. THX devolved into (or perhaps always was) a joke. I remember having a conversation with one of our operation managers, and was told (and verified by a theater manager) that THX had come in and made things worse, only to have a second THX guy come in and redo what the first guy had done to no better results.

Go back even further and you have Vistavision, Cinemascope, and Cinerama. Cinerama was the round format (smilebox), and you had to be perfectly set up to work it. But, again, theater owners are lazy when it comes to this, so they weren’t willing to invest untold monies to have a process they had no guarantee would catch on. It didn’t partly because of this apathy. Good 3-D, solarized 3-D requires so much that a good projectionist could easily fuck it up. And when you move that to the modern age, with no unionized projectors, you get seventeen year olds running prints with no understanding or love of celluloid (for every employee who cares, you’ve got another who’s just as happy to go to his car, smoke some weed and get a HJ between shows). Reel to reel is pretty much an antiquated system (where you’ve got two projectors running the film, with each reel [twenty minutes of film] on separate projectors. The projectionist then starts one reel and when the dots appear (cigarette burns, reel change/overs, etc.) they start the second, and then they take the first reel off the first projector and put the third on. While that happens, they probably rewind the first reel to get it ready for the next showing, and then ready themselves for the next reel after that.)*

So, back to Imax and 3-D. There are limited screen for both, and you know what comes out in six weeks? Avatar. And you know Fox wants those screens like a crack ho wants money for crack (the ho may also need affirmation, possibly negative affirmation that they have sunk so far into selling their body for crack, but the disease may have taken over to the point that they see their body as a means to an end). And they will get it, so ACC has something of a locked booking. Which brings us back to the beginnings of cinema again, as locked bookings are what you got when you had a one screen location. And there’s no way – no matter the business – that ACC can stay on screens of Imax and 3-D variety after that, because it will be locked. But six weeks should be good enough, because the film is a holiday themed picture, which suggests it can play long as people get in the spirit and will die like Homer’s stocks for pumpkins post 12/25. We’re still in the trial process with 3-D and Imax all things, and films now target their release dates for opportune windows of 3-D availability. Studios keep pushing for it, but if you have a three screen in Abilene, you’re not going to care until you have to, and as long as you can project a film with what you got, if people like it they’ll come out. Because 3-D and Imax have never made a film better. Ever.


Richard Kelly’s career is interesting, and if it weren’t for ACC, I might have written about him. Such is life. Imagine that column whilst you have a minute. Meditate on that. Rape. Wait, Fred Simmons? The Box seems like Warner’s is not treating it like hot shit, so it may do okay, but that’s about it.  The Fourth Kind is treading on Paranormal‘s toes, which may be good for it, or kill both.

Breaks on the bus, breaks on your car:
1. A Christmas Carol – $36.5 Million
2. The Fourth Kind – $10.5 Million
3. This is It – $9.9 Million
4. Paranormal Activity - $8.5 Million
5. The Box – $7.8 Million

And then on Sunday, watch out. Just watch out.

*For the record, the first time I heard about reel changes and the black dots was on the Criterion commentary for The Graduate by Howard Suber, he pointed them out and said once you notice them, you’ll never miss them. How right he was. But reel changes are useful in that you can tell how far into a movie you are if you spot them. Then again, you might have missed one.