I don’t know if you’ve ever had the following horrible experience. It all depends on where you live/are and what kind of movie theaters are available to you. If you are like me, this means you live in a town where some dodo decided to build/reshape his cinema complex into a combination of one enormous screen room and eight other little screen rooms. In addition, with the end of real celluloid film machines and the move to all digital everything, all these cinemas are now equiped with a slightly fancier than your regular corporate PowerPoint presentations digital projector.

Last year, I swear, I almost blew off the head of the owner of a certain theater. OK, so maybe that’s what he deserved. I payed a full ticket, which we all know is not cheap these days if you go to a supposedly nice mall theater complex, and lo and behold, the movie starts rolling along and what do I notice???? In 300 and plus scences, where you had a medium close up of a main actor, the top of screen was just sawing off the tip of his head, or was even cutting off farther down, in his forehead! This is for shots that include full body or waist-up bodies!! And this was for the Crusade movie, which is shot according to classical rules, meaning no artsy-fartsy sawing off heads for artistic expression. I was fuming. I had been cheated out of the correct original framing, which completely ruined the aesthics because the tophead projector either had been incorrectly set up or it had an automatic setting to chop part of the image off like television does.

So now, different theater, small room, similar result. I went to see Syriana and first of all what do I notice? The image quality is profoundly cheap looking. The coloring looked awful. Is this the original, I start to wonder? Or is this the result of the trashy equipment being used? Then, it seemed several scenes or the entire movie was slightly out of focus. You know when you are manually adjusting the focus for a photograph and you almost get it, but not really? That’s what it was like. Profoundly irritating. I know this isn’t a big budget film, but could the original be this bad in technical quality? Well, probably I will never know.

However, it’s about time we, moviegoers had a legal procedure to call for inspections of theater screening rooms that we suspect have defective or low quality equipment. Or, we should have a scaled-down discount price ticket for the lower quality projection theaters so we don’t have to pay for this scam. And every theater should be obligated to post outdoors exactly what equipment they use, down to the smallest detail, and what image quality they provide.

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