Too much of a good thing?
Somewhere in between “big is beautiful” and “more is less” lies the unmistakable truth that sitting too close to the screen at a movie can totally suck.
In the unfortunate case of moviegoers sitting in the first few rows of Union Station‘s new, state-of-the-art “Extreme Screen” this past weekend, it was an all but inescapable nightmare.
It’s been sellout after sellout since the station’s theater reopened last week with Disney’s “The Great and Powerful Oz.”
And make no mistake, after attending a screening Saturday night I can attest to how big, bright and crystal clear Union Station’s state-of-the-art new movie screen and system is.
Unless you’re sitting up front and to the side close to the screen.
The 9:45 p.m. showing I attended with my wife and her 11 and 14 year-old sons was packed, all but, if not oversold based on the people sitting on folding chairs and floor behind the last row of seats.
Being among the lucky few to land a folding chair I can tell you it was the brightest, clearest 3-D movie I’ve ever bore witness to.
However when we rescued my wife’s sons from their third row seats on the right side of the theater afterwards we learned the awful truth.
That the picture was awful – worse than awful, if that’s imaginable.
“It looked almost the same with the glasses on as it did with them off,” the younger boy said.
“It was a little more in focus with the glasses on but it made your eyes hurt,” said the older. “And since it made my head hurt, after a while I just took off my glasses and watched it without them. And I saw a few other people sitting near us that took their glasses off and watched it without them too – adults.”
Having looked at the movie sans glasses for a few seconds, I can tell you it must have been unbearable, because without the glasses it was double vision to an extreme.
It may seem obvious that when attending movies that are nearly sold out one should pass on going if the only option is to sit in the first two or three rows.
Having attended countless movies, it’s clear that given the choice, most people will choose to sit halfway back or more rather than up close.
Yet in an IMAX-like environment with state of the art equipment, one would hope that the close up seats would be at least bearable.
And maybe in 2-D they are.
At least the picture wouldn’t have been completely out of focus.
“If you believe bigger is better, you should be careful the next time you go to an IMAX theater…” Connecticut reporter Corey Sipe wrote last summer. “IMAX’s plans for expansion include installing slightly larger screens at existing major theater chains and removing several rows of seats to allow the screen to be 30 feet closer to the audience to (avoid) a ‘sitting too close to the TV effect.’ ”
Maybe that’s it, the too close to the TV effect.
This much is for certain: the powers that be at Dickinson Theatres and Union Station need to put on their 3-D glasses and check out the movie from the cheap seats. Which actually aren’t any cheaper than the good seats further back
Wouldn’t it be a better PR move to turn away a couple dozen people until the next show – or just not sell the tickets in the first place – rather than take people’s money and send them on their merry ways with lingering memories of a gawdawful experience to share with friends and loved ones?
Or is it just me?