It’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.
The 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”
Which 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.