Slackery News Tidbits: DVD Gossip, a New Fest and Shaky Seats

Check out the latest movie news from Austin and Central Texas:

  • Kelly Williams at Austin Film Festival has written a lovely remembrance of Bud Shrake that also contains an exciting piece of news: Before he died, Shrake had recorded a commentary track for an upcoming DVD release of Kid Blue. You know we'll keep you posted when more info becomes available.
  • More on Shrake: the Austin Chronicle has republished Louis Black's excellent interview from 1985 with the Texas author and screenwriter.
  • Galaxy Highland is installing "motion-enhanced seats" -- about 20 in one theater -- in time for Terminator Salvation to open this weekend. Austin Movie Blog tells us that tickets for these seats will cost about $8 more. My first thought was that such seating will make it even harder to get through a long movie without a bathroom break; a colleague of mine noted that vibrating seats might be more appropriate to certain other genres of film.

When's an IMAX not an IMAX?


Texas State History MuseumControversy has been brewing about IMAX movie theaters this week, and what constitutes an official "IMAX" theater.

When we go to a movie theater that has the IMAX name on it, we expect to be immersed in a gigantic 72-foot image. Except IMAX has been lending its name to some Regal and AMC theaters that don't do that. The "IMAX-D" theaters have screens that are only slightly larger than usual, with digital projection and sound. That's nice, but that's not what people expect when they pay higher ticket prices for an IMAX experience.

On Tuesday, Aziz Ansari posted a blog entry complaining that the IMAX corporation is ripping people off. He says:

Basically IMAX is whoring out their brand name and trying to trick people. These new "IMAX" theatres are really just nice digital screens with good sound, but they ARE NOT IMAX, in that they don't have the huge 72 ft gigantic screens which people would expect. However, they still charge $5 more for tickets as they would for the regular IMAX.

Prop. 8 Controversy Hits Austin: The Boycott Cinemark Movement


The backlash to California Proposition 8 is sweeping the country. Here in Austin, last weekend, thousands of people gathered at City Hall in large protest against the recently passed California constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Now the protest is moving into movie theaters.

What's come out in the days since the election is the extent to which religious followers across the nation donated to the "Yes on Prop. 8" effort. One of those donors was Alan Stock, CEO of the Texas-based Cinemark movie chain, who donated $9,999 to the Prop. 8 advocates.

Some moviegoers are very upset. A national call to boycott Cinemark theaters has been growing, and there is evidence that Austinites are responding. A Boycott Cinemark group has formed on Facebook, and I'm seeing Austin friends join the group. Missives to boycott are flying through the Internets' tubes, such as this posting to Craig's List Austin.

There are five Cinemark movie theaters in the Austin area.

What Happened to Cinemark Barton Creek?


Slackerwood received an email this week from reader Roger K, asking if any of us knew what happened to Cinemark Barton Creek, the theater on Walsh Tarleton near (but not in) the mall. He noted, "No showtimes in the Chronicle or on Fandango. They had a nice semi-arty mix, literally between Arbor and AMC."

Fortunately, Austin Movie Blog has the answer to this one. Chris Garcia reported that the theater closed in mid-to-late September. Cinemark is opening a new giant multiplex instead, out at Bee Cave/71 as part of the Hill Country Galleria complex. (Since this is a film-related blog, I will omit comments about the sprawling new development, except to point out that unlike the old Cinemark, this one is probably not accessible by bus.)

Garcia points out that the old Cinemark theater wasn't in good shape and had lousy projection quality -- the article is titled "We'll just say it: Good riddance!" in case you didn't get the hint. I haven't been to the theater much in the past couple of years, since we live further north, but I definitely noticed a decline.

Garcia received so many comments defending the old Cinemark theater that he wrote a follow-up entry that links to his excellent 2004 article about movie-theater projection bulbs and projection quality in Austin theaters. Be sure to click the links at the bottom and read the entire story. I'd love to see him update his info on projection in local theaters for 2007 -- I'd be especially interested to hear his opinions on quality at the Dobie and Arbor.

Personally, I don't understand why theaters would offer sub-quality visuals and sound, since it will only drive more people to see movies at home on higher quality home theater systems. (I wrote an article for Cinematical about this problem earlier this year.) Hopefully the new Cinemark will at least offer a better viewing experience. No word yet on whether the theater will have a "semi-arty mix," but considering it's in a remote suburban strip mall full of big-chain stores, I don't feel optimistic.

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