Tuesday, May 06, 2008

"Larger TVs & Smaller Movie Screens..."

I was given a free ticket to see "I'm Not There", the bizarre movie about Bob Dylan, and I went out to see it yesterday evening. I didn't know much about Bob Dylan (except that I liked some of his music), until I read about him on the Internet following seeing the movie. I would say to anyone thinking of seeing the movie, that it will likely only be interesting if you are thoroughly familiar with Bob Dylan. If you're not, it's probably not going to make much sense. Personally, I like autobiographic and documentary material, and tend to despise biographies and docu-dramas. So, for me, the movie wasn't one I was happy to have invested my time on, particularly when there is a lot of documentary material available on the man. I did enjoy the soundtrack however.

Next issue. The movie theater! It was one of those new ones where they pack 8-16 theaters into a spiffy new building, and in the case of the theater I went to last night, they double up movies in the same space (making sure to kick everyone out after each showing, so you can't see two movies), with one movie playing around noon, another movie playing once or twice after that, and the noon movie showing again in the evening. So with 10 theaters, you can pack in 20 movies. Just the sort of thing that would look great in a suit-driven PowerPoint presentation, but the genba result is pretty bad. At the same time home TV's and sound systems are getting larger and better, movie theater screens are getting smaller and sound quality is getting worse.

Details of the theater I went to last night:

- The theater had a nearly flat floor, and to help people see, they had very uncomfortable seats that force you to slouch (tall people no longer get in the way - they just ruin their backs while suffering through the movie in an uncomfortable position) - although there was enough leg room (there had to be - otherwise the forced slouch wouldn't work).

-The smallish screen wasn't so small as to call it tiny, but as I looked at it from the pain of the uncomfortable seat I was in, I thought "This isn't vastly different than watching a large screen high-definition television hooked up to a decent sound system - what's the point in going to a movie theater to suffer in bad seats when you could actually enjoy the movie at home from a rented DVD?"

- There was no surround sound, but at least the from-the-front-only sound quality wasn't bad. It should have been much louder for that movie though, but they have to keep the volume down in order not to disturb the other theaters packed onto the same floor.

So I'm left with my thought originally generated by the badly designed seats and the small screen - what's the point in going to a movie theater? I certainly never again want to visit that one I went to last night! I'm willing to go to some expense, time and trouble to see a movie from a comfortable seat, with a huge screen, and surround quality sound played at the proper volume, but otherwise, I'd just as soon they shut down movie theaters altogether.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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