I often write lyrically about premium cinema formats, which usually means one of three formats, IMAX with laser, Dolby Cinema and 4K with Atmos, which is not an official standard but is known in the UK as the popular chain of Cineworld multiplex. like Superscreen. When I go to the movies, it’s usually in one of those formats. As such, my friends and family sometimes refer to me as a movie snob: – not in terms of movies, but in terms of expecting a high level of presentation. A few days ago, a friend asked me to join him in watching the new movie, the Viking action drama. the northerner, and having heard good things, I accepted. The film wasn’t showing on any premium screens, but I thought I’d take it, so Screen 8 and Cineworld Hemel Hempstead went then. Cineworld is, of course, your classic multiplex, a McCinema, but stop being a picture palace snobbery: it’ll be fine, won’t it? Well, no. No, he will not.
My friend had reserved his seat and told me the location so I could reserve next to him. I was a bit surprised to find that he had chosen to sit right in the back, and when we got to the screen, I was surprised to find that we were sitting right in front of the left rear speakers. Even more to my surprise was that the projection booth was placed in the middle of the back row, essentially cutting it into two sections, and I was sitting right next to it; so much so that I could even hear the projector during the movie. It also completely blocked out any audio from the rear right. In terms of audio, it was, in short, a terrible place to sit.
I tried to pose the problem without sounding too complaining, but they explained that it would be better to see the whole screen from behind. Hmm. The thing is, this was just a normal screen, it wasn’t particularly big. I recently wrote about building my home theater and sitting in the back the screen seemed relatively smaller than the one in my house.
But it wasn’t the size of the screen that bothered me, or the fact that I could hear the left rear speakers sounding louder to me than the front ones, but the picture quality. i was so poor the northerner it’s a visually stunning film, with dazzling moonlit nights, grim goings-on, and rich oranges of epic fights against a backdrop of molten lava. At least I think so. The picture on this normal screen was so dull, lacking in brightness, lacking in contrast and color richness that I could hardly notice it. It was so flat. It was difficult to distinguish details from shadows and it deprived scenes of visual impact. And there was no 3D to blame here for the loss of light. The projector was probably old and the lamp needed to be replaced, but it didn’t reflect well at Cineworld.
Then there is the resolution of the image. The projector was clearly a standard 2K model, so it didn’t have the 4K goodness and the image was certainly less sharp than I’m used to at, say, an IMAX presentation.
Then there was the light bleed coming from the stair lights to my left that stayed on the entire time for some unexplained reason, as well as the light bleed every time someone got up and walked off screen, and when they came back on. get in. Really? Can’t people sit down and watch a movie? Have you ever thought about going to the bathroom before the movie starts?
the northerner it’s a film of bold intensity and I could only imagine how disappointed the director, Robert Eggers, would be if he saw his film being shown in this way. However, if this is what the average moviegoer experiences, it’s perhaps not so surprising that viewers prefer to watch at home. The screen could still be a decent size, and if it’s an OLED or high-end LED TV, the black levels and shadow detail will be better than this run-of-the-mill, can’t-be-bothered-do-better-cinema standard.
But do people care? If you check the reviews of your local multiplex, most of the comments will be about the length of the lines to be popcorn or the size of the nachos rather than any issues with the picture or sound.
I was stunned when many months ago I saw the eternals at Vue in Cambridge: it was the worst picture quality I’ve ever seen in a commercial cinema, but no one got up from their seats, possibly because they were numbed by the boredom of the film, or at least what they could discern of it .
Just the week before I had seen Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets, in my room equipped with an IMAX CoLa (commercial laser) projector, that is, monolaser, and I enjoyed a bright, sharp and colorful image. It’s a shame the film was largely incoherent and lacking in emotion and, ironically, magic, and I would have preferred to see the northerner on such a screen. Since there are no IMAX-specific scenes, Dolby Cinema is probably the best way to watch the movie in terms of picture quality.
So I tell them to be more discerning: we deserve better than McCinema. If you can’t get to a premium screen experience, find a theater that cares about picture quality as much as selling you popcorn, and if it’s not good enough, let them know.