Why go out???

Just returned from watching Knives Out at one of these supposedly premium theaters. Well the seats at least are premium. Big, reclining, and comfortable enough. None of the usual crammed in like cattle feel. That's it for the good news. For some unfathomable reason the theaters are numbered but without movie names. We walk down the hall, not one name or even a poster. We weren't the only ones, another couple was roaming around wondering where to go. 

The screen was (Guessing) not even 16:9 and with awful grainy coarse quality which you think well it'll be better for the feature but no, its not! Who in this millennium shows movies in pan and scan? Woodinville! Hard to believe this is the only one- let me know! 

In case you're wondering no, this isn't me being audio/videophile finicky, my wife was complaining all the way home! My projector is Sony, not even the latest, not even 4K, and no Blu-Ray I'm a Pirate Bay/RARBG scofflaw kinda guy, all movies watched off the MacBook Pro (with ECT, and the system is to die for but still....) MY WIFE was complaining! She actually thought it was worse than me! (Well I make allowances, but still...)

What gets me is, I've seen and know how good movies can be. Seen Lawrence, Hamlet, My Fair Lady etc in 70mm. Hateful Eight in 70mm too but that one the projectionist clearly didn't know what he was doing. Beside the point. Cinema should be an experience. A memorable experience. Hamlet was. My Fair Lady was. This one was memorable only in the sense that we will remember not to come back.

Time was not all that long ago no amount of money would get you to cinema quality. But now? Cinema has descended, home theater (IF you do it right!) is actually better. Not a little either. WAY better!

Is it me?Or are they killing the motion picture industry?

Why go out? 
A while ago I went to movie theatre.  It was a large complex that has 30 screens in one location.  When movie started sound was so soft, that we could barely hear anything.  People started screaming to no avail.  Finally group of us went to find manager.  He offered us free tickets for another show.  He said he cannot do anything since it is 100% computer controlled (no operator).  I'm done - never again!
The issue of movie presentation quality is not new, it's been a problem for decades.

I just watched Rise of Skywalker, and the screen was dim and the sound was disappointing.  I can't tell if that was poor music/audio design or the theater, but yeah, my modest HT is a better experience. Watching The Expanse right now. Far better presentation.
Tarantino filmed The Hateful Eight in Cinemascope (? or whatever technically it is, 70mm anyway) and there was a whole big deal about it being released and projected in 70mm which really is a big deal when done right. But as it turned out not only were there not anywhere near enough projectors there were even fewer projectionists trained to operate 70mm.

Kevin Branaughs Hamlet was in 70mm and absolutely stunning. Imagine the best 40K you ever saw, only richer and smoother with better color saturation and detail so unreal the individual gold threads on the epaulets are sparking and Branaugh’s skin pores are clearly visible. My Fair Lady in 70mm, Lawrence twice on two different screens, same thing. But these were all years ago. 1990’s, 2000’s. By the time Hateful Eight came out they couldn’t even project it in focus. No kidding.

Now in fairness the norm before George Lucas, Star Wars and THX was one crappy 12" or maybe 15" speaker behind the screen. Probably no one under 50 will believe it. But that was the norm. So its not like things haven’t gotten better. Just not the last 20 years. And the last 10 seems to actually be getting worse.

Part of it is digital. Same way it killed music, which like craft ales decades after prohibition records are making a comeback. So who knows maybe home theater will save the movies by being a safe harbor for quality. Hollywood and the motion picture industry seems to be swirling down the drain lower and lower.....
...don’t blame digital, it sounds way better than the low res analogue imbedded on old film tracks ever did. As for Hollywood movies: the dreck they’ve been churning over the last ten years has driven me away from home theatre and movies in general. Comic book heroes, remakes and formulaic garbage that appeals to the lowest common denominator. Netflix is offering better content nowadays
I saw lots of first-rate projection and sound quality when I lived in L.A. Of course it depended on where you went but still...it still can exist. To me, though, the problem with the way the movie business now works is that, eighty percent of the time, the theaters only show big commercial super-hero type features.  All the smaller, more interesting stuff is now shipped directly to the premium television channels.  It doesn't help that the new, premium channel television series not only feature the best writing, they possess the best production values.  If you want to see something really good, watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Plotting can sometimes be a bit tentative but the acting & dialogue are wonderful. Still better, the physical production values can only be called magnificent.  Colors are 1950's-1960's rich and vivid. Backgrounds swirl with action and people-on-the-move.  They're essentially choreographed.  The camera is ever on-the-move, as well.
I went to see the latest Star Wars movie tonight at the local multiplex in Lacey. As good as my home theater system is and as much as I enjoy the comfort of watching a movie in my own home, there are some movies that just seem to demand being seen on a big screen. The image quality and sound was excellent and the seats were comfortable. 

It took me back to when I was 15 and rode the bus to Seattle with some friends to watch the first Star Wars movie (Episode IV) at the UA150. We stood in line around the block to get our tickets and were so blown away that we stayed and watched the next showing. It was shown in 70MM on a huge curved screen. I remember seeing Apocalypse Now and hearing "surround sound" for the first time. Movies have come a long way since then. Last night the grandkids were watching the new version of The Lion King and I was amazed by the quality of the CGI.

I've had a couple of experiences where there were technical difficulties and that's frustrating, but overall I enjoy going out to the movies. Some of my favorite places are small indy theaters like The Grand in Tacoma. No blockbusters, not the greatest sound systems, run by volunteers, hard to find parking, but a lot of cool small films played there. 

For me, it's more about the movie and the experience than technical aspects. I would have been disappointed if I had the kind of experience described, but no way I'm waiting for this last episode of Star Wars to come out for home rental. 
Your header triggered a tangential thought for me....why hear live music? It has struck me that there is a disconnect between the notion of the pursuit of obsessive audiophile perfection and the reality of live music. I have seldom heard live music where the audio is perfect. Even when I have been part of the band what you hear is nothing like what comes out of a decent set of home speakers. But, as others have noted eloquently above, you go for other reasons. It so happens I am not a big movie fan so I agree 100% with your original thesis. At least at home you can hit the pause control and go to the bathroom.
There's an interview with Schroeder, widely regarded as among the best tone arm builders around, and he's asked about the difference between live and reproduced music and practically the first words out of his mouth are its anti-social. Not how hopelessly difficult it is, nothing about dynamics or sound quality at all. Oh, he does get there, eventually. But only after talking about how fundamentally anti-social it is to be sitting in a room all by yourself in the dark playing music that only you can hear. 

For the longest time, many decades, it was rare to attend any concert and not walk around checking out the sound. Steeley Dan at the Gorge ranged from poor to atrocious depending on where you were. All except for dead center one row in front of the mixing board. There the sound was perfect. And I mean perfect. Imaging, depth, you name it, and it was hard not to believe it was even better ten feet up and back where the guys on the console were sitting.

So these audiophiles, they managed to make even a live concert anti-social, by creating good sound for the few of them and them alone. Schroeder, hate to say it, was right on.

When the audience is into it there's electricity in the air. The Seattle Symphony finally cuts the crap with their PC agenda and plays the Messiah. Daniel Craig starts putting the pieces together in Knives Out. Jordan B Peterson talking about... well, anything. The Eagles. Electrifying. Whatever it is, could be anything, could be anyone, when it starts channeling that, whatever it is, we have no name for it, yet we all know what I'm talking about, when the performers doing that and we all sense it there's a cascade and its just, well... whatever it is, its why we sit and listen in the dark- and also why we put up with the crowds and the noise and all the rest as well.

you need to get to either of the Benaroya halls, Triple Door, and Tacoma ( not the dome ) more often....
Jordan B. Peterson..Yikes.. you sent me scrambling to Wikipedia for that one. Sounds like a reasonably complex character though. I'll dig into him more as time allows but I had to smile at this closing bit of personal detail that you usually don't see on a Wikipedia entry"In late 2016, Peterson went on a strict diet consisting only of meat and some vegetables to control severe depression and an autoimmune disorder, including psoriasis and uveitis.[26][142] He stopped eating any vegetables in mid-2018.[143]"
Jordan B Peterson is simply the greatest philosopher/intellectual of our times. So many hours of him on-line, hundreds if not thousands of hours, yet its hard to find one on any subject that's not absolutely fascinating to watch. I mean the man did a 12 lecture series on the stories of the Bible that sold out each night and has been seen millions of time on-line. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-wWBGo6a2w

Complex? Watch just the first 37 seconds and see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMcjxSThD54
 Peterson is a brilliant fellow with a fierce intellect and intelligence. He’s all over YouTube nowadays, so easy to find him with a quick search.
Jordan B Peterson is so awesome the only person who stands any chance against him at all is Jordan B Peterson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buD2RM0xChM
Just read yesterday that Coppola built a theater in Kansas to meet his specifications for viewing Apocalypse Now.  He expected legions of adoring fans to make the trek.  Now that is hubris.  I wonder if he was pleased when Home Theaters became ubiquitous?
I saw the initial run of Apocalypse Now.  It was somewhere in Hollywood, perhaps at the Cinerama Dome or the Warner's on Hollywood Blvd.  It was the version with no credits.  The lights went down and the movie just started. Utterly outstanding on every level.
And yeah, to continue on the topic of my original post in this thread I have to say that a good two-thirds of the theatrical releases are indeed pretty mediocre. The last feature that really pushed my buttons was The Hateful Eight.
There are other reasons to go out on the town than to see a film. Yeah, it’s easier when you’re in a large metropolitan area but there's great restaurants and live theater. And oh yeah -- there’s music in live performance. Uhhh, waz zat?
A large portion of the U.S. projector base is still 2K digital, about 60% I think is 4K. There are some really awful early Barco projectors out there still with horrible contrast ratio. They would all be 16:9, but the cheap theatres will not have the necessary setup to do ~2.35:1 anamorphic properly. It is probably not the resolution though that is bad, the brightness/contrast of early or cheaper digital projectors was poor and cheap movie houses will not replace their bulbs often enough ... which fortunately newer projectors are moving away from.

The newer theater 4K HDR projectors are quite good, every bit as good as 35mm film. 8K projectors are on the horizon and will have effective image quality on par with 70mm. 8K digital cameras are already in production. 70mm has lots of raw resolution, but shake/shudder from the mechanical movement means the real useful resolution is degraded a fair amount from the single image resolution. That lack of shake/shudder is also makes 3D work better.

Having seen the best of digital cinema projectors and what are likely some of the best home projectors, I won’t say home theater is better and certainly not way better. Modern 4K cinema projectors with "laser" light sources are exceptionally good. Then again, so are the latest JVC home ones. Both need good screens, and that is one area home setups are often lacking. All black environments to minimize reflections and maximize contrast don’t have high spouse factors :-) I do believe that popping my corn in ghee may taste even better than whatever they use at movie theaters though :-)

Jordan B Peterson? ... just don’t get him started on religion, then he sounds like an uneducated zealot :-)
My favorite movie experiences were the great NY midtown palaces in the 70s. They occasionally showed 70mm prints with 6 channel stereo which pinned you to the back wall of the theater. And there was the time Radio City showed a gorgeous Technicolor print of Singing in the Rain. Superman at the Criterion was wonderful as well before that magnificent theater was sliced up in '80.

After that in the 90s there were the great Robert Harris restorations of Spartacus and Lawrence. His recent restoration of MFL on Bluray is better than the one he did in the 90s. It is closer to the original roadshow 70mm print I saw a long time ago in the Warner Cinerama on Broadway.

Also I disagree about sound. I much prefer the 6 track stereo that existed before Dolby then but you were probably speaking about the sound of the average theater of the time. Acceptable but mono. Nothing beats Super Panavision 70 and Todd AO. Yeah it's pointless to go to movies for me today. Contemporary films are fine on bluray and a large HD TV are good enough for me. Even the clips I've seen of the new Skywalker look spectacular on my Bravia Smart.

Now if David Lean were to come back from the dead and show his films at the rebuilt Warner or Rivoli on Broadway with their large curved screens and Western Electric stereo speakers I'm there and I'd be super happy.
If you are going to a cinema for good sound, then best to search out Imax theaters. From a sound perspective, they are significantly better than old 70mm theaters. They will also have higher end projectors, brighter images, and better screens. The only issue I have found with Imax is they are so bright, that for the first 10-15 minutes of the movie, dust from people entering/leaving the theater creates a noticeable haze in the air.

At 4K, most seating positions are beyond eye resolution. They next 8K step will push that further, but realistically contrast and color have a bigger impact on our impression of quality past a certain resolution point and 4K is there already.
Exactly. Its like with cameras, megapixels don't matter. 

The most impressive cinema I know is the Tigard in Oregon. From far out in the parking lot it just looks like a movie theater. Not a drab concrete box. The large lobby is flanked by concessions with a grand wide and gently sweeping ramp leading up to the main theater. So none of this wandering down long dark halls searching for #11.

Inside the screen is huge, the seats comfortable, and the sound the best I've heard. The system floats a rock solid image just like the sound stage of any really good system should be. 

Here at home (Redmond, WA) we hardly ever go out to a movie. Every single time in Oregon though I look for the chance to go to Tigard. Going for the lowest common denominator the movie industry has totally missed the boat.

... [Edward] Norton calls on moviegoers to be vocal about ensuring movie theaters are running projection and sound at top quality because in most cases around the country they are not.

“A lot of filmmakers and cinematographers that I know that have really started to look into this say that more than 60 percent of American theaters are running their projector at almost half the luminosity that they’re required by contract to run it at,” Norton said. “They are delivering crappy sound and a dim picture, and no one is calling them on it.”

Norton continued, “If [movie theaters] were delivering what they’re supposed to be delivering, people would be going, ‘Wow, this is amazing, I do not get this at home’…Well, I want people to literally walk into their theater and find the manager and say, ‘If this looks dark, you’re giving me my money back. Because I’m paying — and at the ArcLight, I’m paying premium — for a premium experience.'”


Good, and necessary advice from Mr. Norton here. Be sure to address and complain about any issues you may experience to the manager of the theatre you're attending, be that technical issues or otherwise. And don't let anyone bring along your problem to the manager; instead go to him or her directly in whatever way possible - either (preferably) face-to-face, by mail or telephone. 

A majority of theatres may have 4K projectors by now, but that's not at all to say they're showing their films in 4K. In fact, most don't. From what I'm aware of most films still have a 2K digital intermediate (their native image resolution), and even films with 4K DI's are usually shown in 2K at the theatres, because their 4K DCP counterpart is a more expensive package. 

I remember a few years ago when I called the biggest theater chain here in Denmark asking them whether they were showing their films in 4K, if the DI allowed, and I was told "We have 4K projectors installed," the person saying that feeling quite comfortable it settled the matter. When I inquired further whether that meant they were actually showing films in 4K there was a moment of silence, until: "I'll have to ask the manager about that." I never heard back from them on this, even though I requested it repeatedly. Years have passed, and I'm now being told, when I recently asked a technician prior to a film viewing, that on rare occasions they are now showing films in 4K. Another theater chain, Cinemaxx, have shown their films in 4K whenever possible for years already.

A great home theater.. that is, a very capable 2-channel home set-up with proper dynamic range/headroom, extension to at least 25-30Hz (preferably via separate subs), lots of radiation area, etc. with a great and big OLED screen from the likes of LG or Sony (or a great 4K projector), not least sourced via UHD discs, will pale most commercial cinemas (expect perhaps some IMAX venues). 

A great home theater.. that is, a very capable 2-channel home set-up with proper dynamic range/headroom, extension to at least 25-30Hz (preferably via separate subs), projector...

Home theater!

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Home theater!

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Yeah, I was really on a roll there, wasn't I? ... Have always found a capable 2-channel set-up, one we'd normally regard a music-only ditto, to be quite excellent for Home Theater duties. That is, fortunately a "capable" system in my view is one that has the qualities mentioned in my earlier post, because the rationale has always been to counter a potential investment in surround channels - with all that entails in regards to processor and extra amps and speakers - against the scenario of upgrading the existing basic 2-channel gear towards the unified quality of "grunt and refinement." There's usually a lot of effort made in "audiophilia" into achieving refinement, but for the most part it equates into fuzzing over minute details of that lower left corner on the canvas instead of pulling back and seeing it in its entirety. That entirety is including aspects that falls under the category of "grunt" - such as approaching sufficient headroom, dynamic capabilities, sheer radiation area, etc. - and yet it links intrinsically to refinement as well.  

Contrary to how some may view this, that a music and a Home Theater set-up are two separat entities perhaps with different goals, I feel that when meeting or approaching the needs of physics in sound reproduction, and this applies especially to speakers/subs/acoustics, it's really not about one or the other here, but rather what serves both of these "realms." Getting the meat and potatoes right, my dear Miller lad - that's what it boils down to. Plural subs and all, and those missing surround and center channels be damned. 
Well said. Have you seen my Home Theater Done Right thread? You could just cut and paste your second paragraph above, it would be perfect.
Sorry for the late reply, @millercarbon. Actually I wasn't aware of that thread, but I went over it quickly and I'm impressed to see your findings. That's a great looking setup, and those main speakers I've never heard of/seen before. Well done! 
Thanks. The video is pretty good too. Similar to the audio, the video benefits from power and other tweaks that raise performance quite a bit from what you would expect from what is really just a 1080i projector. Really wanted to get a few pictures to post. But don't want to do a shot of just the picture, and can't figure out how to get the room in there without washing out the video. Its either video looks great but the room is black, or room is there but the video is all but gone. Arrgh!
Have you seen a picture at a Dolby theater?
Amazing experience!!
I’m very happy with the quality of movies at Loews movie theaters as well.