Hearne: Thou Shall Not Screw Over Thy Movie Patrons

how-to-draw-poltergeist,-poltergeistIt’s not nice to break the  First Commandment…

Especially when it causes blurred vision and physical discomfort to others. Yet that’s exactly what Dickinson Theatres did this past week in sellout-after-sellout at Union Station‘s spanking new “Extreme Screen” movie theater.

Dickinson oversold the theater, violating the No. 1 published tenet on Union Station’s website, setting forth the parameters for viewing 2-D and 3-D movies:

“Seats 440 for 2D movies and 380 for 3D movies”

However, instead of only selling 380, Dickinson repeatedly sold the theater’s entire 440 seats, resulting in an extremely sub par viewing experience for the unlucky inhabitants of the front rows.

The somewhat obvious reason for not selling the 60 front seats being that theaters and filmmakers recognize that moviegoers need to sit further away to properly view 3-D movies.

3-d-1The conventional wisdom being that 3-D movies are best viewed at a distance of 1.5 times the height of the screen, according to Barry Sandrew, Ph.D. and founder of Legend 3-D.

In the case of Union Station’s 53 foot tall screen, that would be from a distance of 79.5 feet

“The closer you sit in a theater the more the 3D effect tends to diminish…” Sandrew says. “Of greater importance, the closer to the screen that you sit the more likely your eyes will tire from the strain that comes from decoupling accommodation and convergence. You see, watching a 3D movie is very different than the way we experience the third dimension in our every day lives. Sitting too close to the screen places demands on our binocular vision that can cause discomfort and/or headaches”

Screen shot 2013-03-12 at 1.14.33 PMWhich is exactly what happened to my wife’s sons who sat in the first three rows to the side Saturday at Oz. At a distance which caused them to remove their glasses and watch the entire movie without them because the 3-D was so bad it made their eyes hurt.

By overselling the Extreme Screen Dickinson pocketed an additional $800 in ticket revenue per showing (plus concession sales), which can add up fast with say, 10 sellouts or near sellouts.

However so by doing so – even if inadvertently – they ripped off somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 moviegoers per showing. People who plunked down their hard earned bucks, drove all the way downtown from wherever and left with the worst first impressions imaginable.

No word from Union Station or Dickinson on the debacle.


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10 Responses to Hearne: Thou Shall Not Screw Over Thy Movie Patrons

  1. the dude says:

    Greed is a bad thing… Mmmmkay?

  2. the dude says:

    Those front row seats always suck old man testes; if a theater is that sold out whenever I go and I am forced to sit down there I just get my money back. The view is always horrible from those crappy money grab seats.

  3. gene says:

    Don’t tell me that after all that you stayed.Any sane person would’ve left and asked for their money back. But then you wouldn’t have had anything to bitch about.

    • admin says:

      Well, here’s what happened to me…

      The placed was packed and we deposited the kids in the only readily available open seats – we’re talking young kids from out of town. And I do mean the only seats, outside of like the first row or so.

      Then my wife and I stumbled on to a pair of folding chairs in the main aisle behind the last row of seats. I think if the kids had any idea of where we were or hope of finding us, they’d have come and told us how awful it was and we’d have left.

      Why the other adults and kids sat through the entire movie without leaving I have no idea. I spoke to critics who attended opening night and they said the cheap seats were totally filled then too and nobody left.

      I don’t think that lets the theater off the hook though for not adhering to its own plainly stated policy and selling seats that were not intended to be sat in because they knew that they would make for an unsatisfactory 3-D viewing experience.

  4. mouse says:

    Is this going to be one of those things where you blog about it endlessly for weeks?

  5. Hey Hearne,

    If that ever happens again, get another pair of glasses (I assume they were passive) break or push out the right lens of one pair and the left lens of the other pair. If you have two left lenses in the glasses or two right lenses on the glasses, the movie should be fine because you’ll be seeing it in perfect 2D. Problem is, you have to bring tape or super glue to the theater to get the lenses to stick to the appropriate frames. I’ve told glasses manufacturers to create pairs with the same same circular polarization in both the right and left lenses so that people who cannot see 3D such as those with strabismus and those who simply don’t like the 3D can attend the same screening as their spouse, date or family but they’ll be watching the movie in 2D while everyone else will be watching it in 3D. Makes sense to me.


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