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The Silver Screen Loses Its Luster

June 25, 2005

I was pleased that your June 21 article, " 'Batman' Can't Begin to Rescue Film Industry," on flailing box-office receipts did not fail to mention the bombardment of in-theater advertising as a culprit. I have been an avid filmgoer all of my life, and over the last year or so have almost stopped going to the movies entirely.

The greedy fools who thought they could get away with insane admission prices and $5 popcorn, and then hold us captive in our seats while they rake it in from advertisers, should wake up and smell the bankruptcy.

J.S. Kingfisher

Hollywood

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Your article on the slump in movie sales left out what I see as an important reason for the drop in movie theater attendance: the screens are often poorly lighted and the picture itself is often grainy or out of focus. My husband and I saw "Million Dollar Baby" last year at a theater, and it seemed so dark and grainy that it was difficult to make out the details of many of the scenes.

When that film won the Oscar, a snippet was played on the Oscar broadcast, and we realized that we had not really "seen" the movie the way it was intended to be seen. My brother-in-law, who works in the film industry, tells me that some theaters only light the screens at half or three-quarters of full lighting power to save money.

I've tried complaining to the teenagers who seem to run the theaters. I've written letters, but I feel powerless to change this. Although I love to see movies in theaters, if the technical quality of the lighting and projection is poor, it's not worth the frustration.

Diane St. John

Mission Viejo

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If studio executives want to know why 73% of adults prefer to watch movies at home, I can tell them -- it is the theater experience itself. Bad storytelling has always been around, and moviegoers have always considered tickets expensive; yet people continued to go to movies.

Why? Because of the theater experience -- good sound, big screen and the chance to get out. Now it is that experience that is keeping them away. Increasingly, there are people who insist on using their cellphones during the movie despite common courtesy and the "Silence Is Golden" reminder before the movie. Then there is the mall-like atmosphere, which encourages young people to "hang out." These socially charged kids continue their chatter during the movie.

Recently, my husband and I attended an evening showing of "Madagascar." As expected, the audience was loaded with children. Unexpected was the way parents let these kids talk loudly and run around throughout the movie.

Dinner and a movie used to be a nice way to end the week, but with cellphones ringing and people talking, why would any sane adult spend $10 on a movie ticket? My living room is becoming my theater of choice.

Joanne Law

Chatsworth

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If the studios would like me to pay around $40 to $50 for me and a date to go to their movies, maybe they should spend a little more money in developing new story ideas and not simply remaking old movies or television shows -- very badly. And don't even get me started on the sequels or prequels that should never be. If they dropped their prices to $5, maybe I might go, otherwise I can watch the better versions at home on TV or DVD.

Matt Farrell

Hollywood

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