June 4, 2023

Behind the scenes

So my friend owns some movie theaters in Texas and he offered to take me on a tour of the place. He is currently in the process of switching over from analog to digital which offers better quality all the way around but in someways it’s a little sad. Analog movies come on a few reels and the theater has to splice the movies together. The interesting thing is this is only the 3rd major change in movie projectors since the beginning. In the beginning theaters had two separate projectors aimed at one screen. When the first half of the movie was about to end the projector operator would read these tiny dots at the corner of the screen and would start to mix the other projector into the first in a perfect overlap like a modern dj. If the projectionist sucked you would see white or the film would stop for a second but if he was good-and Byron was good-it would be seamless. Anyways, back to the analog. Here’s Slumdog Millionaire.

And here’s what a digital film looks like.

As you can see the new flicks ship on hard drives-no knowledge or craftsmanship required.
Film movies are hand spliced and if laid out flat would stretch about 2 miles. Those small rolls are previews and they get spliced in as well.

These huge platters hold the film and rotate accordingly pushing the film through the projector.

Here’s the digital version of the platters…

Digital projector:

Analog projector:

It was amazing how loud it was in the projection room and how much it actually takes to make a movie come to life. Also, Byron told me all about the theater biz and basically theaters only make money on concessions. The cost to show a movie is so astronomical these days that most of your $10 goes straight to the movie studio with a little bit covering costs. So if you want to help out a local like the Coolidge or the Brattle then buy a Coke and some popcorn. And if you want to screw the majors like AMC, sneak in some Gobstoppers and Twizzlers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *