Saw Indiana Jones on Friday. Saw it again on Saturday. Saw it again on Sunday and again on Monday. Four times total. I’ll be honest here — the repeat viewing was largely because of Cate Blanchett’s character. She is unbelievably … wow. But it became an observation of the differences between Regal, which is closer, and Cinema Center, which is usually better. Unfortunately, the outcome wasn’t what I was expecting.
Regal only ever gets my business because they’re nearby. They’re about five minutes from my house and right up the street from my office. While the picture and sound quality are always good, it’s the service that always turns me off. And I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Still, once you get past the high ticket prices and the impossibly slow service, it’s a decent theater.
Cinema Center in Camp Hill is my preferred theater for a variety of reasons. Mostly, they’re a lot less expensive. I’m not talking a fortune, but it’s enough of a difference to justify the gas used to drive over there. I also like the classy (in my mind, anyway) industrial/art-deco-like design of the lobby and theaters. The sound and projection systems have always been good, the seats are more comfortable, and the butter-your-own popcorn tastes much better. Plus, there’s something to be said for supporting a local business (Cinema Center is a relatively small regional chain).
Friday and Saturday brought me to Regal. Sunday and Monday brought viewings at Cinema Center. I hate to say it, but the experience at Regal was much better than those at Cinema Center.
See, I like my action movies loud. Raw SPLs aren’t really a factor for Juno or Lars And The Real Girl, but when it comes to explosions, I want to feel my blood vibrate. So I was really disappointed when Cinema Center’s sound system was overpowered by my phone’s vibrate alert (during the previews, of course; I always silence my phone for the movie). The explosions, the chase scenes, the crashes … everything just seemed weak at Cinema Center. Worse, it sounded as if they weren’t even running a surround sound rig; everything seemed to come from the front. On the other hand, the volume at Regal was almost too loud (almost). A whole lotta floor-shakin’ goin’ on during the first 15 minutes of the film, and the car chase dished out some of the most beautiful sub-sonic bass I’ve ever felt. Distortion-free, no less (though honestly, at that volume and frequency, I don’t think distortion is even possible). And all of the bone-crunching in-your-face dBs were in full-on glorious surround.
Adding insult to injury was picture quality. During both screenings at Cinema Center, the top-left 25% of the screen was noticably out of focus. I long ago gave up complaining to theaters about their focus, because the end result is always some 18-year-old Assistant Manager with an authority complex angrily asserting that there are “NO REFUNDS AFTER THE MOVIE STARTS, YOU’LL HAVE TO TRY FOR A FREE SHOW SOMEWHERE ELSE”.
I’ll keep going back to Cinema Center from time to time. After all, they wind up running a lot of movies that don’t even make it to Regal (Lars and Jesse James come to mind; didn’t Regal also pass on Juno and Be Kind Rewind?). I just hope this isn’t a sign of changed management or things to come.