Movieland: Movie Going The Way It Used To Be

by | Sep 16, 2009 | POLITICS

With the opening of the Bow-Tie Movieland at Boulevard Square this past spring, many of us found we had a new regular movie theater. Sure, most of the screens are smaller than what one would find at the Regal theaters in Short Pump or Virginia Center Commons, but it really is difficult to argue with the location of Movieland. A five to ten minute drive instead of 20 or 30 is very refreshing, and, of course, there are a few comparably large screens to support the blockbuster films. All of that said, though, now that the midnight openings are over and the first summer blockbuster season since the theater opened has come to a close, I feel it necessary to discuss the overall performance of our new regular theater.


With the opening of the Bow-Tie Movieland at Boulevard Square this past spring, many of us found we had a new regular movie theater. Sure, most of the screens are smaller than what one would find at the Regal theaters in Short Pump or Virginia Center Commons, but it really is difficult to argue with the location of Movieland. A five to ten minute drive instead of 20 or 30 is very refreshing, and, of course, there are a few comparably large screens to support the blockbuster films. All of that said, though, now that the midnight openings are over and the first summer blockbuster season since the theater opened has come to a close, I feel it necessary to discuss the overall performance of our new regular theater.

Since the beginning of the summer, I attended midnight openings of nearly all of the blockbusters that came out at Movieland. From X-Men Origins: Wolverine at the beginning of May through Halloween II at the end of August, I saw 14 midnight screenings at Movieland. Some shows went off without a hitch, but a majority of the screenings were disrupted by technical difficulties. I understand that the theater has been open for less than a year, and that most of the staff running the equipment is likely new at the job, but the mere fact that more shows have had issues than not is completely absurd.

We have all, no doubt, had experiences at the movies when the sound cuts out, or the picture appears out of focus. We accept these as occasional problems because no matter how careful the projectionist, or how well maintained the projector, every now and then a glitch will occur in any system. One begins to wonder, though, exactly how careful the projectionists are or how routine equipment maintenance is when such problems occur more frequently than not. It reflects a lackadaisical attitude on the part of the employees at the theater, and makes it seem as though the management is hoping to coast along on the popularity that comes from being hip and new, and, most importantly, nearby. Ticket prices at Movieland are a bit cheaper than the other theaters in the area, but that does not mean it is okay to hold flawed screenings. If the problems continue as they are, it will not be long before people start to drive further and pay more again in order to have a better chance at seeing a film undisturbed by technical difficulties.

It is important to note that some of the issues in question here go deeper than the typical bugs that occur at the movies. Yes, Movieland is plagued with run-of-the-mill problems like sound cutting off, lights staying on, and the projector not being centered on the screen, but occasionally an ordinary glitch will reveal a more serious mishap. For instance, when Halloween II began with the image projected halfway off the screen, it took a few minutes for someone to center it. Once that was done, the bottom of the image was still cut off. The projector was not set up properly for the screen size. It was creating an image that was too large to fit on the screen. How it is that such an essential calibration issue was not noticed or dealt with is a mystery. It was, after all, a midnight showing. Was the projector set up improperly all day? Could it still be projecting an overlarge image? It is enough to make one wary of ever attending a foreign language film at Movieland, for the subtitles may be lost beneath the screen.

While the above error could simply have been an isolated mistake, there is a far more major problem at Movieland that exhibits pure negligence on the parts of the management and staff. That problem is Cinema 6, the auditorium at the end of the left hallway. Cinema 6 is one of the larger screens and thus housed midnight openings for two of the major releases this summer. Those films were Terminator Salvation on May 21st and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on July 15th. For the duration of both movies, there was a very noticeable ambient beeping noise emanating from the projection booth. Apparently, the projector itself, or at least some piece of equipment associated with it, loudly beeps when it is in use. It is annoying and distracting during a show, and the mere fact that the problem existed for a period of at least two months implies that it is still going on today.

Even if the Cinema 6 projector has been fixed by now, there was a two month period in which Movieland was essentially charging full price for a defective product. This is completely unacceptable. It demonstrates a total lack of regard for their regular customers and it creates an aura of distrust. It is clear that Bow-Tie Cinemas is trying to make Movieland into a classy local theater. The inclusion of the café area, as well as the bar and hot food selection imply an attempt to turn the location into more than just a movie theater, but also a local hangout. This can never happen if the clientele are unable to feel comfortable there.

I want to make one thing very clear. I like the Movieland theater. I see nearly every movie there now, and I always check their showtimes before any other theater in the area when I am going to see a film. I appreciate the variety of films they carry, that they show both big blockbusters and smaller independent films, and I am a happy member of their Criterion Club which bags me free popcorn and movie tickets. Hell, I even like the décor. I understand that everything and everybody is new there and that some problems are going to be unavoidable. What I hate to see is repeating problems, or worse yet, issues that should have been dealt with before the theater even opened. Movieland opened on February 27th, and has thus been operating for over six months. They had more than two months to work out the kinks before the summer movie season began. Now, the season is over, and the problems still exist. It is well past time to get things running smoothly.

Matt Ringer

Matt Ringer

A meat popsicle.




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