Jason Whyte, local film critic, asked me if he could submit a guest blog on his experience at the Roxy Classic Theatre in Victoria, B.C. After hearing his story, I had to give him the space. Enjoy the read.
I ventured down to the Roxy Classic Theatre on Sunday night to see a double bill of RAMONA & BEEZUS and RESTREPO. I’m not usually a fan of seeing a film at the Roxy due to many problems I have had in the past, yet, for their low ticket price I kept giving them a chance. Until, that is, a visit on Sunday night that makes me not want to be a customer at the this theatre ever again.
The film RESTREPO started with the wrong lens, the image was all distorted across the wide screen with black borders on top and bottom of the frame. Not only that, but the film frame was slapping against the lens of the projector. The film abruptly stopped halfway into the film’s titles, started again a minute later, (without the “slapping) but still had the wrong lens on. I then walked to the concession stand, alerting the staffer there was a problem with the picture and the lens needed to be changed. He went up to the booth where the operator still was, trying to frame the movie on screen (the image kept moving up and down), but not switching the lens. The film stopped yet again on screen action.
Think that it was finally going to be fixed? Wrong. The film started yet again with the wrong lens. I talked to the concession staff again, told him the film was still not working and helped explain to him how to fix the picture. He swiftly left again as I stood in the back. The audience kept turning their heads towards myself and the projection booth, wondering what was going on.
A moment later, the entire screen goes white but the movie keeps playing. The wrong lens has been removed and it takes nearly a minute to switch over to the right lens. The small audience (about 8 people) started to boo and hiss at the screen at this point until finally the lens worked. To add insult to injury, the image was bleeding at the top and bottom of the screen. Some of it was even projecting on the stage! The remainder of the film played this way. The film ended and no passes, no apology, nothing.
Infuriated, I made several tweets about the poor presentation on my Twitter page and also let the distributor’s Twitter feed (@maplepictures) know about it. The next morning, I made a comment on the Roxy’s Facebook page explaining what happened on Sunday night and strongly suggesting that their projection should be seriously looked at. When I returned to my computer that evening to check for comments, I discovered that I could not only access the page via my Facebook, but that I had been banned from the Roxy page along with Mike Sharpe’s (owner) own FB account. Removing a post is one thing, but to block me entirely from the page is inexcusable. I have not been contacted by Mike Sharpe since as to why my comments were deleted, or to even contact me regarding the problematic screening. Even if he found my comments offensive, it is still incredibly unprofessional to just delete my comments and ignore me.
I hate to be so hard on an independent cinema, let alone a single screen movie house struggling to stay in business with first run competition a short drive away. Yet, when the place is being run by an owner and management without a care for professional film presentation, let alone MINIMAL projection standards and cheats their paying customers out of their money for a substandard presentation, I have no choice but to write these words and hope more people pay attention to these places with bad operation and poor customer service like the Roxy Classic Theatre.