If you watched filmmaker Charles Ferguson’s 2010 documentary Inside Job — about the origins and hubris surrounding the recent global financial meltdown — then odds are you felt angry, cheated…and more than a little bit disgusted by a society that is increasingly putting more and more wealth in the hands of the rich, whilst at the same time ripping off the Middle Class. That same Middle Class that were largely responsible for the creation of said wealth in North America to begin with.
Odds are that unless you’re independently wealthy, you or someone you love has felt the economic crunch of the past few years, and if you’re like many, you get a bit testy when those more fortunate than yourself are perceived as trying to rip you off.
Case in point: movie theaters. Today, just as in the Great Depression, people often go to movies to escape the realities of their every day lives for a couple of hours. A night at the movies offers reasonably inexpensive (I stress the word reasonably here) entertainment, an evening out, and a chance to socialize with friends and family away from work or home. So it’s more than a little annoying to learn that some theater chains aren’t providing the service for which customers are paying.
The Boston Globe recently discovered that a host of theaters have been projecting films with images that are dark and lack color saturation. Research into this situation uncovered a number of theater chains using projectors that require a special lens when showing 3D movies. Yet when a 2D movie was being projected, the special lens was not being removed and replaced with the conventional lens, resulting in a reduction of light by as much as 85%.
Why the difficulty in performing a simple lens change when projecting a 2D film in stead of a 3D film?
Here’s what the paper had to say:
The uniting factor is a fleet of 4K digital projectors made by Sony — or, rather, the 3-D lenses that many theater managers have made a practice of leaving on the projectors when playing a 2-D film. Though the issue is widespread, affecting screenings at AMC, National Amusements, and Regal cinemas, executives at all these major movie theater chains, and at the corporate offices of the projector’s manufacturer, have refused to directly acknowledge or comment on how and why it’s happening. Asked where his company stands on the matter, Dan Huerta, vice president of sight and sound for AMC, the second-biggest chain in the US, said only that “We don’t really have any official or unofficial policy to not change the lens.’’
Sounds like a non-denial, denial…or a distinct lack of interest in charging moviegoers the appropriate ticket price for the appropriate movie format.
A Boston area projectionist explained to the paper that for 3D showings a special lens is installed in front of a Sony digital projector that rapidly alternates the two polarized images needed for the 3D effect to work.
“When you’re running a 2-D film, that polarization device has to be taken out of the image path. If they’re not doing that, it’s crazy, because you’ve got a big polarizer that absorbs 50 percent of the light.’’
As if we needed any more reasons to deride this whole 3D fad.