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The Shape-Shifting Future Of Films

The special effects wizard behind Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Tree of Life, and more, on the shape-shifting future of the movies.

This is scene from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film, "2001: A Space Odyssey," showing a space shuttle, lower right, approching a space station. (AP)

This is scene from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film, "2001: A Space Odyssey," showing a space shuttle, lower right, approaching a space station. (AP)

Douglas Trumbull just took home an Oscar statuette for a lifetime of incredible work in visual effects.  On Stanley Kubricks’ 2001: A Space   Odyssey.  On Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  Star Trek.  Blade Runner.  Silent Running.  The Tree of Life.

It’s an incredible record.  But it’s the future of cinema Trumbull is worried about.  People are watching on little screens at home.  Movie theaters aren’t pulling them in.  Trumbull wants to make the cinema mind-blowing again.  He’s working on it.

This hour, On Point:  Visionary, pioneer Douglas Trumbull on the future of the movies.

-Tom Ashbrook

 

Guests

Douglas Trumbull, a filmmaker and special effects guru, he is responsible for the special effects in numerous films, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Blade Runner, and The Tree of Life. He won both a special lifetime achievement award at the Academy Awards and the George Melies award from the Visual Effects Society last month.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Hollywood Reporter “Within three years of starting his Hollywood career, Douglas Trumbull changed the moviemaking process irrevocably; working with Stanley Kubrick on 1968’s 2011: A Space Odyssey, when he was barely 25, he not only created a landmark cinematic experience, but pioneered special-effects techniques which filmmakers continue to use even today. ”

San Francisco Chronicle “Describing his earlier experiments, Trumbull says, “When we shot test films at 24, 36, 48, 60, 66 and 72 frames a second, we didn’t have words in English that describe the phenomenon. We immediately saw a profoundly different kind of experience happening up around 60 frames: The surface of the screen became like a window into reality.”

Video: Douglas Trumbull On Fast Frames Per Second

At 24 frames-per-second, he says, action movies get blurry just as they get exciting.

Video: Douglas Trumbull On Bladerunner

Here’s Trumbull talking about how scenes from the movie Bladerunner were shot.

Video: Douglas Trumbull On Tree Of Life

Here Trumbull speaking to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York, about his role as special photographic effects expert for Tree of Life, a movie by Terrence Malick.

Video: 2001: A Space Odyssey

The famous “stargate” sequence from “2001: A Space Odyssey” that Douglas Trumbull masterminded.

Playlist

THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA (“2001: A Space Odyssey”)  Richard Strauss

REJOICE IN THE SUN (from “Silent Running”) by Joan Baez

“CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND” THEME by John Williams

“STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE” THEME by Jerry Goldsmith

BLADE RUNNER” THEME by Vangelis

LACRIMOSA (from “The Tree of Life) by Zbiegnew Preisner

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Roy Mac

    And the Oscar for Best Picture goes to…The Artist.

    • GradyLeeHoward

      What if the dog were animated using high speed film digitization? Welp, there goes the liver snaps industry.

  • Fred

    The blurb above left out what is arguably Trumbull’s masterpiece, SILENT RUNNING.  

    • GradyLeeHoward

      Bruce Dern’s greatest performance! I hope Huey and Louie are still watering those trees.

  • Salzburg

    The shifting future of film? What about the money corporations are putting into films? Before it was product placement. Now actual products are becoming characters. 

    • WBUR_Fan1

      Blah, blah, blah… evil corporations.  Blah, blah, blah… politics.  Give it a rest.

      • GradyLeeHoward

        bleech, bleech, bleech… evil corporations faking political choice. No elections in Blade Runner?

    • GradyLeeHoward

      And the Pentagon debuts it’s new Seal Team Six fantasy cartoon: Act of Valor. All the budding sociopaths will rush to enlist.

  • Fangbopp

    I’m eagerly awaiting this – Mr. Trumbull is a certified genius.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

    Tom can you ask Mr. Trumbull to discuss his thoughts on the state of science fiction/space opera films today? Where he thinks they are going, what challenges they face, and what vistas we might see in the future? Thank you.

    p.s.- Tree of Life was one of, if not the most visually striking and emotionally evocative movie I have ever watched.

    • GradyLeeHoward

      Stealing the nightgown brought back old memories?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

        Growing up suburban. Brad Pitt as a father afraid to care for his sons for fear it will make them soft in the face of a world that has wronged him. Quintessential middle class America. Why are you trolling a forum about the future of film?

        • GradyLeeHoward

          I’m a veteran film and TV actor and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and I vote. I am also a documentary film producer. My most recent role was in “Boardwalk Empire” as a boxer. I had a negative reaction to “Tree of Life.” 
          I despise George Clooney’s hammy work but even “The Descendants” does a better job of portraying family dynamic. Since I suffer from dwarfism being called a troll is particularly painful. If you will Google me you will find me a serious commentator.

          • thereisakeytothisthing

            Dude, you’ve announced the qualifications for your opinion about six times. You are a PhD, a professional actor, a producer of documentaries and also a filmmaker. We are all impressed. But perhaps you could impress us with your opinion rather than your self-pronounced qualifications.
            Oh, and you are a troll in the Internet sense. So, look! Now you are a troll both literally and colloquially speaking! Sweet ride!

  • Patrik

    Scale back on the CGI in Sci-Fiction movies and bring back the extras and costumes that I and many fellow nerds have enjoyed in our earlier years.  Some CGI is ok and enhances the movie but there is just too much of it in todays films.

    • GradyLeeHoward

      Hugo is a cartoon.

      • Patrik

        Touche, I should have been more specific and state non-cartoon films.  Thanks.

        • GradyLeeHoward

          No, Scorsese’s “Hugo” employs live actors and is not classified as animation. But, it is constructed in a layering process procedurally resembling a Warner Brothers cartoon. Actors pretend before green screens with key elements absent or substituted. Knowing how it was made undermined my attempt to suspend disbelief, and yet I could not enjoy it as animation either. As a professional actor i could see the flaws in portrayal, and as a filmmaker I gritted my teeth at the inaccuracies in the physics. It is celebrated, I think, only because it is an extravaganza by a famous name director.
          If the this is the feature films future I’ll not be buying tickets because I admire craft, not synthetic tricks. But I do love the old cell cartoons that defy physics and  parody live action.

  • gemli

    Since Kubrick’s 2001:A Space Oddysey was released in 1968, I’ve seen it in the theatre 14 times.  I now own a blu-ray and a DVD copy.  The effects were mind-blowing, and all done in service of the story, mood, and tone of the film in a way that is rarely seen today.  I’m looking forward to seeing The Tree of Life, and anything else Mr. Trumbull has a hand in creating.

    • GradyLeeHoward

      Tree of Life will disappoint you. For me it resembled random acting exercises and puzzling special effects cobbled together to make a “neck tensioner.” (I’m glad Brad Pitt ain’t my daddy, and Sean Penn ain’t my son, and mainstream Christianity ain’t my belief after enduring this collage.)

      • gemli

        I’ve never seen a film that caused such a polarized reaction in the Amazon.com reviews.  People either loved it or hated it.  For that reason alone I’m curious in which category I’ll wind up.

        • GradyLeeHoward

          email me at beretco.op@hotmail.com and I’ll mail you my copy, gemli. You should see the film to decide for yourself.

  • Michiganjf

    I LOVE old Sci-Fi, I LOVE new Sci-Fi as well, and watching CGI become more realistic over time is FANTASTIC to witness!

    I still remember watching some very early Pixar animation at the Spike and Mike SHORT ANIMATED FILM Festivals in the late 1980′s and thinking “THIS IS THE FUTURE… soon one won’t be able to tell imagination from reality.”

    I think 60 FPS is AWESOME, and I can’t wait to see films adopt this technology for standard blockbuster fare… I’m sure high-speed film is just as amazing as Mr. Trumbull claims, and I’ve no doubt Hollywood will use it as the battle to compete with high-tech home theatres escalates.

    • GradyLeeHoward

      With leisure time becoming a nightmare who needs dystopian media anymore?

  • The_Chris

    How were some of the effects done in “2001:A Space..” , released in 1968, well before the age of digital special effects? (e.g. Dave appearing to walk from floor to ceiling in a cylindrical room.)

    • GradyLeeHoward

      Camera positioning as housing rotates- an old trick seen done by dancer Gene Kelly and pratfall artist Buster Keaton decades earlier. Actor athleticism required.

      • TFRX

        Which Buster Keaton movie?

        Slight nit: I think you’re referring to Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding.

        • GradyLeeHoward

          Harold Arlen too, I think. I may have misspoken on Keaton, but I seem to recall it. Thanks for the Astaire master.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C2STBLZJK4VKQBV27DVQX3I6CU FAX68

    As we all now Hollywoods films always predicted the future.
    The future of space travel like landing on the moon, the communication satellites or the cellular phones.
    Past Hollywood films were features the future of technologies, but the modern hollywood films are now predicting the end of the world like the film Book of cain, 2012, Deep Impact, Day After Tomorrow. Hollywood must be right.

  • Alex Kingsbury

    Don’t worry, our scheduled guest Douglas Trumbull has not been
    abducted by extraterrestrials.  He ran into icy roads out in Western
    Massachusetts and wasn’t able to make it to the studio in time.

    But we’re not giving him up; he’ll join us on Monday.
     

    • GradyLeeHoward

      Why not fake him via CGI at 90fps?

  • Pingback: Latest Blu-ray Movies News | New Blu-Ray Movies

  • Anonymous

    I recently saw the movie Tin Tin and I was struck by just how far computer animation has come.  I’m wondering how long before we have virtual computer actors that look just as real as any other physical actor and the regular viewing audience would not be able to tell the difference?

  • Cory, Lord of the Nerds

    Is this a rebroadcast?

    • Ellen Dibble

      I looked at the OnPoint Facebook page, and scrolling down, I see that Friday’s second hour show had to be postponed to Monday, and Friday’s second hour was a rebroadcast about Rouald Dahl, the children’s author.

    • http://onpoint.wbur.org/about-on-point/sam-gale-rosen Sam Gale Rosen

      Ellen’s right; this is live because Doug couldn’t make it on Friday.

      • Cory, Lord of the Nerds

        Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    For me, special effects started with the Wizard of Oz, No.1 film of all time. Forbidden Planet is my number 1 sci fi movie, for 1956 it was ground breaking and looked like some scientific thought actually went into the movie, rare for that genre for many decades that followed. 2001 was great but antiseptic. Blade runner is my Number 3, low on special effects but one of the richest movies ever in atmosphere and raw emotion: it raised the spectre of social and ethical challenges that will challenge the press of humanity in the future. Truely iconic. Battlestar Gallactic Redux with the luxury of time went where Blade Runner could not. So what’s next?

  • Guest

    What would it take to get me back to the big screen?  Lower the outrageous prices for movie tickets!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    What will it take to get me back to the theater?

    1.  Lower ticket prices.

    2.  Quit recycling movies that were better done once before.

    3.  Tell good stories about characters.

    4.  Treat effects as a means of supporting the story.  Effects aren’t the story themselves.

    That would be a good start.

  • Chris in Pennsylvania

    I’ve been a bit alienated by the last few years of cinema.  I’m afraid that current films are far too oriented toward my demographic (ages 18-35) and we’re beginning to lose the ambitious and cerebral productions like Lawrence of Arabia and Citizen Kane.  Special effects can certainly make a film, but not at the expense of plot and content.

    • GradyLeeHoward

      Current big budget films are pre-socialization devices for our bleak future.

  • Chris Kealey

    Hi Tom – Like airlines the movie theater industry must simply try to fill seats by discounting, creating special rates, special night of the week discounts, lower rates for movies that have been out for several weeks, etc.  There is simply NO creative pricing strategies. 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       There used to be dollar theaters that ran movies that had been out for a few months, but those have disappeared.  Bring them back, and I’ll go much more often.

  • Patrik

    Special effects are not the issue.  The issue is the theatre itself, having to drive to the theatre, finding a parking spot, standing in line only to sit in front or behind some jerk commenting on every scene or muchning on popcorn and slurping on their big gulp like they’re at home on on their couch.  Or the kids acting up and parents just not caring ruining my experience.  No thanks, I’d rather watch it on my phone or computer at that point, the effects for me are just as good.

    • Patrik

      *munching

  • Tuscadero

    The reason why cinema suffers is not the size of the screen or the quality of the effects. It’s the absence of focus on storytelling and character. Provide a good story, great characters, and people will come back to the movies. Focus on special effects, 3D, Imax screens, will create amazing amusement park ride experiences, but not great films.

  • Stephen Haller

    3-D will only work when the film makers push to get rid of the glasses and develop a screen that will have the same effect as the glasses, only THEN 3-D will truly work.

  • Ozharri

    Mr. Ashbrook asked what is behind the slump in movie attendance and what would it take to get people to go back to movie theaters.   The reason I don’t go to theaters can be summed up in too thoughts:  #1 theaters are just too loud! and more importantly #2 COST!  It is just too expensive to go to the movies.

  • Idleislander

    lower the volume.  Right now the volume is the same when the theater is full (and there are lots of bodies to absorb noise) or when the theater has few people in it.  I complained about the loud volume (and I mean really loud), and the manager told me that the volume is set in the contract he has to sign with the film’s distributor.

  • Dh001g

    Does the guest know if the rumor is true that Pink Floyd composed the last half of the album “Medal” as a soundtrack to this scene? It really matches up.

  • Tina

    What will get me and my friends back into the movie theater?  Small, intimate, well-written stories about men and women our age and their lives of happiness and sadness.  We are in our sixties.  We do not care about special effects. We care about good writing, great acting.  Look at how many people tuned in to Downton Abbey!  We like whimsy as much as heavy drama, comedy as much as tragedy.  But, we want to see ourselves and those we care about.  We don’t want to be made to look like “old fools”, nor do the women in our group want the male characters in movies to get mated with women young enough to be their daughters or even granddaughters!

    Please don’t write back in a challenging tone with what you want while you tell me that you, too, are in your sixties.  Tell me what you want in movies; that’s okay.  But, I am telling you what my friends and I have discussed we want out of movies.  It can’t be challenged.  Thanks!  

    • Modavations

      Please retire,EPA could use some good press for a change.I loved Blair Witch.Truely frightening and cost $10.00 to make.I also loved The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.Cost a zillion and worth every cent.Cate Blanchette is the hottest lady on the planet.Also loved Cinderella Man.

  • Anonymous

    If they want more people to see movies in the theater, they need to stop people from texting.  It is so distracting and annoying. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/paulhenrysmith Paul Henry Smith

    I was a kid when i saw 2001.  I paid $2.50 for a ticket.  My 11-year-old son would MUCH rather go to a movie theater instead of streaming a movie via Netflix on his iPod … but for a kid to get $12 or $13 is tough.  

    Movies are already compelling and desirable, they just cost too much to go see.  Bring back cheap tickets, and you just might get the new generation back, too.

  • Stephen Haller

    What gets me back to the theaters is a good story and good characters like as in Close Encounters. Special Effects followed those two major factors.

  • Anonymous

    What would it take to pull me back into the theaters?  That’s easy.  A good story line and not rehash of things I’ve seen.  I’d rather Hollywood spend more money on story than on special FX.  No amount of FX will make up for a bad story.  But a good story can overcome all other blemishes, at least for me!

    • TFRX

      Aye, there’s the rub: Spending more money on FX will (by and large) give better FX.

      Spending more money on a screenplay, or for casting the two biggest roles, doesn’t yield the same somewhat-dependable correlation. (But going for the cheapest screenplay one can get doesn’t mean anything good either.)

      For two more things, star vehicles often mean 1) miscasting, and 2) the need to have the star in about every single scene. These things get in the way of good storytelling.

  • Anonymous

    Cell phones have turned generations into Pod People. Even when they are somewhere, at some big event, they are checked out. How can anything capture the imagination and rivet the minds of such people?

    • Modavations

      Black Fang!!!What up dude.Bite your daddies ankle for me please.

      • Anonymous

        Ruff Ruff!

        • Modavations

          Good boy,I owe you a can of Alpo

  • Timeisgold

    I remember years ago going to the movies and sorround sound technology. The seats vibrated and gave  the sensation of being in the actual scene you were watching.  I belive such technology along with odors as an example would make the movies far more enjoyable and real and like other movie experience.

    • Patrik

      Can you imagine the smell of the Rancor or it’s pit in the Hutts palace in Star Wars?  I’ll just use my imagination, lol

  • andrea

    The movie theaters are not the problem.
    The audience is — cellphones, conversations on cellphones, conversations period. (Have you seen a film in NYC lately?)The price is too steep as well. Bring something down, popcorn, or 3 for the price of one movies. Something!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Remember the first Star Trek series?  The special effects were minimal and don’t hold up well, but when the episodes were good, it was because of the story and the interactions of the characters.  The effects in 2001:  A Space Odyssey are still convincing, but they exist only to support the ideas.  Asking what effects will bring us back is continuing to race down the wrong road.

    • TFRX

      Somewhere along the line (maybe a Roddenberry bio) I read that they invented the idea of the Enterprise as being a ship built in outer space, and not able to take the gravity of being on a planet, because they didn’t have the budget for making all those takeoff and landing scenes look good.

      That’s the mother-of-invention storytelling we don’t get enough of.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         That’s why Roddenberry came up with the transporter.  It was a cheap special effect that didn’t require a landing craft mockup.

  • Modavations

    I’m outta here kids,I’ve getting Nerd Cooties. 

  • Don W

    Last time in the theater was to see The Descendants.  No place to sit, people wanted to take up space with coats, purses, etc. Would only reluctantly move together when the ushers told them to.  We ended up on the far LH end of the front row.  Great show, but where we had to sit spoiled it for me.  I would have preferred to see it at home.  Too many folks crammed into the typical multiplex, never mind the high prices or cell phones, etc.  Nothing can be done by the movie makers to get me into the theater, because it’s not the film itself, it’s the environment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paulhenrysmith Paul Henry Smith

    Don’t forget sound.  Very few of us have a decent sound system at home … and forget mobile devices … BUT sound the sound systems in theaters are absolutely stunning.  You can now see  orchestras and operas in movie theaters, and they sound better than any other way you could hear this music short of a live concert.

    And as far as movies go, computing technology has not only revolutionized what you see … it’s revolutionized what we hear, too.  Modern film scores are largely a hybrid of computer-generated sound and acoustic musicians, just now beginning to explore the dramatic possibilities of amazing sound systems.  

  • Sabrina

    Yea! You’re talking about some of my all-time favorite movies. 2001 was the 1st movie I saw back in 1973, at age 3, with my folks at their university’s Student Union – it had me mesmerized then, and I’ve seen it countless times since, own the dvd, have the soundtrack on mp3. And Bladerunner, ahh! Beautiful! Of course in ’73, the worst people could do was talk, now it’s awful, UNBEARABLE, with cell phones, etc.

  • Anonymous

    Is it any wonder that Hollywood is losing market share when it is constantly attacking and suing
    one of its biggest markets — i.e. young males — for Internet piracy?

    No business is going to
    survive it if functions on the assumption that it can harrass its consumer base
    with law suits on one hand, and then ask them to pony up for overpricced
    products on the other hand.

    Yolande

    Brattleboro, VT

  • Sam

    What does your guest think of Inception? Just recently saw that and LOVED it.

    Does he think there should be a sequel to the Inception?

    I also loved the “Moon” where there weren’t that many special effects, but the story was awesome.

    Thank you

    • http://onpoint.wbur.org/about-on-point/sam-gale-rosen Sam Gale Rosen

      I liked “Moon,” too.  A lot of people compared it to “Silent Running,” which Doug directed.

  • Anonymous

    We love going to the movies.  With 3 little kids, we mainly see the PG films, though my husband and I will have movie date a couple times a year. After watching the Lorax this weekend in 3D, we concluded that there is no reason to pay the extra money for 3D effect again.  The glasses are cumbersome and everything seems so dark and disconnected.  Very few perks to 3D experience.  Star Wars 3D was also quite disappointing.

  • Anonymous

    A great cinematic experience is to watch a documentary in the Mugar Science Omni Theater in Boston.  The screen is dome shaped so that it’s literally panoramic view that can’t be replicated even on the largest flat imax theater.  Why can’t the industry move to dome shaped screens, especially to show 3d movies?

  • Bill

    I think that he still doesn’t get it. Compare the Blue Max before CGI and Flyboys. The former is a classic with a great story and great flying photography. Flyboys is largely a big, silly video game. At home we have moved to HBO AMC tc. where a good story, developed over time is far more enjoyable.

  • Anonymous

    I love going out to movies, Nothing matches the sound!!! but sadly, at 10-14$ movies are a luxury our family just cannot afford.. we can’t even afford cable. Even so, the First Jurassic Park, when you Hear the dinosaur walking up behind you…..gave ya the shivers.

  • john

    “The Tree of Life” was received with bewilderment or worse yet, boredom by the mainstream
    and it was so ambitious that it just flew over the heads of joe
    six-pack. Yet, it carried on the tradition of “2001: A Space Odyssey”in our current times. The reawakening of “cosmic consciousness” might help. Like it or not we must give credit to the widespread use of LSD during the most “pioneering” period of visual experimentation in film making. Bring hallucinogenics back into vogue and the results would once again jump-start us toward expanded consciousness and visual/sensual creativity. Interesting that Science Fiction has been the strongest influence in stimulating innovation. No more “Space Opera” please!

    • GradyLeeHoward

      I’ve earned a PhD in Media Analysis and have been a character actor for 5 decades, and “Tree of Life” was a Joe Sixpack version of cosmology, a peculiarly uninventive collage of crap strung together seemingly in desperation at the last minute. But john must possess a powerful creative ability to have made something of it.

  • Anonymous

    Are we talking about going to the movies, or about special effects’ role in movies?  I love movies and sharing the viewing experience with other people.  But I stopped going to the big theatres years ago because it was unpleasant: the sound is overloud, the movie overwhelmed the experience, special effects seemed to be the point.  Even thoughtful movies got this treatment.  I still enjoy small events: truly indie movies shown in smaller venues, where the audience is part of the event, and not herded through gates like cattle.  It’s a different experience. I am going to suggest that perhaps the day of the BIG MOVIE is over, and we’ve returned to the more intimiate form.  Personally, I’m relieved. 

  • Mavwreck

    I hate to be a nit-picker, but you just described the piece of music going into “commercial break” at 11:37 AM as music from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  That was actually the theme from Star Trek: The Next Generation, a TV show.

    I think that’s actually delightfully ironic. :) We’re talking about creating a new cinematic experience – something that creates a big difference between what we see at home and what we get in the theater.  This bit of confusion is a perfect parallel to the “confusion” between TV and movies at home that we see now.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       No, the Next Generation theme music was recycled from the Motion Picture.

      • http://onpoint.wbur.org/about-on-point/sam-gale-rosen Sam Gale Rosen

        That’s right, the TNG theme opens with a bit of the original Star Trek theme, then switches to Jerry Goldsmith’s score from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

  • Ian

    “DreamPark” (1981) by Larry Niven is the future of film/entertainment.

  • Hi

    Brighter, bigger, faster – it all get’s better over time but what makes a good film is not the effects but the genius behind the lens.

    What will get people out from their little screens and in front of a big one is the experience of being around other people.  Movies should have intermissions, theaters need to be social hubs with good food and drinks.  People need to get back in the habit of going out and being around their friends.

  • Rimargaritaville

    Doug could you give some advice on a younger person wanting to get into sfx… I work as grip in movies and would like to see what you may be the right path.. Scott ..cohasset

    • Modavations

      Yes,don’t watch the SciFy Station.I love it,but talk about crapola

  • Bob

    I would much rather watch a spectacular movie  on the big screen Why I go less than once a year:

    - The excessive and growing length of annoying commercials before the main feature begins

    - The stench of artificial butter on giant buckets of popcorn

    - The rudeness of audience members coming in late, talking, letting their cell phones ring

    - The absurd volumes to which sound systems are set in an attempt to drown out the previous item, driving them well into clipping, eliminating musicality and nuance

    The special draw used to be previews, but those are now available for free and in HD on YouTube or IMDB.

    I’ll still watch something classic, foreign or obscure at a local repertory/arthouse theater. They deserve the business, and attract a much more engaged and congenial class of audience. But too many movies now are made to the same standard as they junk food served with them – seductive, addictive, ultimately lacking in nourishment or even toxic – and have about as much lasting social value.

  • Timothy1 Madden

    Trumbull’s new direction seems to touch on the theme of experience immersion in Brainstorm, a really underrated film.

  • Scott

    Let’s summarize the modern movie-theater experience:

    Drive an hour (one way) to the theater. Fight the crowds and the lines. Pay $10+ per ticket, per person. Either smuggle in food and be made to feel like a criminal for doing so, or pay the captive-audience extortion prices of 10X mark-up for bad popcorn, candy and drinks. Pray you get a good seat. Endure 30 mins of COMMERCIALS (not just previews), unless you want to try and time your arrival to skip them which means getting the worst seats in the house (or no seat at all). Then during the movie, endure people talking, people texting on blazingly-bright cell phones, kids kicking your seat from behind. And need to use the bathroom during the movie? Kiss that bit of the storyline goodbye that you’re going to miss.

    “Mind-blowing”? Far from it. More like, infuriating and annoying.

    I rigged up a 92″ projection screen, an HD projector, a blu-ray player and 7.1 surround sound. I can own the movie for the cost of 1-2 tickets and have it forever more, regardless of how many people watch or how often. I can eat and drink what I want, when I want, for reasonable cost… and pause the movie to go the bathroom. And no rude watchers around me because they aren’t invited. Between actual cost and convenience factor, the system more than pays for itself. I’ll return to the big theaters when they clean up their act, get their prices under-control and reign-in the rude movie-goers. There’s just zero incentive at the moment.

  • JustSayin

    I stopped going to the movies mostly for one reason. The painful and damaging volume. Are people aware of how damaging sound at those volumes can be.

    The other reasons being cost. I have seen so many films on Netflix that I say, I bet people felt cheated paying $14 for that.

    The inconsiderate noise in the theater, cell phones, crying babies, etc.

    And then there are the commercials. I’m not paying $14 to watch 30 minutes of commercials. Either charge for the movie without commercials, or have commercials and the movie is free.

    • Modavations

      My ears are fine.Is “noise”the crisis de jour”?

      • JustSayin

         Don’t know why it needs to be a crisis level, but many people have told me the same thing. I have tinnitus from work, and cannot risk further damage. 

        • Modavations

          i’VE BEEN TO A MILLION CONCERTS AND AM A MOVIE FREAK.mY car stereo is always at warp 9.My ears are fine.I know no other person with tinitus.She’s an old straight chick.The left wakes up everyday and looks for crisis

          • JustSayin

             You have to stop listening to Limbaugh for a month or so…

            You are getting as paranoid as he is. I don’t know how noise causing hearing damage became a left wing conspiracy. But senile paranoia can find a communist plot in anything.

            old straight chick????

          • Modavations

            Since when is Rush paranoid.My point is that the left is in pertetual crisis.Woe is me my ears,woe is me sugar,woe is me Fracking,woe is me,woe is me

          • JustSayin

            I see no lefty “Woe is me my ears” issue around this.

            I don’t think the left wants to ban movie theater sound, a few of us in this thread stated its just too loud. What’s wrong with that? Is the right immune to loud noise?
            Do you see it as an attack on conservative values?

            Do you have your TV and radio turned to the maximum volume, and if not, why not? Is it a preference, or are you just a closet whining lefty?

            Why does choice equal left conspiracy? …. Oh, wait … I get it now. Choice, as in no one on the left should have the right to choose how to live their lives?

            Is that it?

          • Modavations

            CVS sells Ear Plugs.Try em,stop stop cryin

          • JustSayin

            Stop WHINING
            about everything! 

          • Modavations

            Noear plugs nojustice

          • GradyLeeHoward

            So you’re deaf, and you talk so loud others run away. You will not hear when danger comes. Survival of the fittest?

    • margo

      My husband and I love movies and have been using earplugs for YEARS ! The last IMAX we saw -Mission Impossible was incredibly loud and we wondered how other viewers could take–although we did see 4 people with earplugs!

  • Wingsofthe101

    If movie makers want to “bring back” theater attendance they should concentrate on bringing back great actors, and not worry about what stupendous special effects need to be invented next.  There is a dearth of acting (male and female) on the cinema screen.  Cinema should tell the great stories of human beings without sacrificing the humans in favor of a starburst display. 

    • Modavations

      Fiennes,Cate Blanchette,Russel Crowe,Brad Pitt,I can go on

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6UET6G64X7HSIECQAOLDD3SCQ4 jasonw

    Movies have taken such dive in substance over the past 2 decades (or three even). 
    I am approaching middle age and find that classic movies with great effects like Tron, Blade Runner, Alien, 2001 etc. are so much more interesting than anything that has been released since. In the day of Michael Bay, Joel Silver, and the (aging) Spielberg, movies just don’t get me excited anymore.

  • Feralann

    I am about to watch a movie at home that has good writing and characters with emotional depth.  I prefer writers from the 1920′s to hype and glitz.  Don’t forget about me.
     

  • Hidan

    Cool show

  • Mary

    It’s hard to justify the steep ticket price, and then God-forbid, you want to buy some popcorn and a drink…who can afford it anymore? 

  • Geoffstagg

    ditto…retired professional but cant afford it. Get price below $5
    Refuse to pay more….

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Movie goers should not need earplugs.
    That’s common sense.

  • Bayscout

    Tom,  You should have asked Mr. Douglas Trumbull if he ever experiences a movie in a big chain cinema like Regal.  He would learn why many of us don’t like the experience.  Extremely loud commercials and previews combined with outrageous prices for tickets and food.  Yuck!  I prefer my local “Art Treatres” and Netflix.  However Mr Trumbull fine tunes his part of the craft he will not be able to improve the movie goers experience. 

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