Yes or No: Is it really that hard?

I’ll forewarn you now, this is going to be a rant of sorts.

I’m laid up today, seeing how my lower back decided to seize up and start spasming. That being the case, my laptop and I have been having some quality time on the couch. This has included reading TORn’s post about where to see The Hobbit in 48 fps. They link to a website that is hoping to document which theaters are confirmed as showing the higher frame rate. This is  a really nice service.

Anyway, I got to thinking, “I don’t have anything better to do while laying around, I’ll call the two theaters I might see the movie at.” The first theater has a contact form which I filled out. Hopefully they’ll get back to me soon. The second theater is the IMAX I’m willing to drive an hour and a half to get to, in order to see the movie on a bigger screen.

So I get connected to the customer service desk at this theater and ask if they’ll be showing the upcoming Hobbit film in 48 fps. Let’s start with with the fact that the customer service rep was rather condescending. “Where did you hear that?” he wanted to know. I thought he meant, where had I heard that I would be able to see the film in 48 fps at their theater. So I explained that I hadn’t heard any such thing, I just wanted to know if they would have the necessary equipment in time for patrons to see the higher frame rate. What I then got was 10 minute long spiel.

Let’s hit the highlights:

  1. Did you know that EVERY theater in the United States uses digital projectors now?
  2. How about the fact that because these projectors use a hard drive, they will ALL be able to play the movie at a higher frame rate. (Although talk of frame rate is really antiquated.)

I knew I wasn’t going to get an educated or accurate answer when the man (I would guess middle age by the sound of his voice) started talking about EVERY and ALL. For starters, there are a lot of theaters, especially in small towns that have yet to upgrade to digital projectors. Then of course there is the fact that companies who make the digital projectors have been talking for months about filling orders for projectors that will show the film or upgrading existing projectors so that they will be able to to support the higher frame rate.

A large part of my frustration is is about not enjoying being spoken down to like an idiot, which this man clearly thought I was. Condescension dripped from every word of his long explanation.

But what frustrates me more is that this is slated to be one of the biggest movies of the year. The discussion about 48 fps has been going on since Peter Jackson announced that he would be filming in that format. People interested in cinema–Hobbit fans or not, are interested to see how this will effect their theater going experience for years to come.

So is it too much to ask that customer service representatives at movie theaters at least have some idea of what it is that they are talking about? They don’t have to know every nuance of the technology. But shouldn’t they be able to answer with a simple yes or no? I feel like the owners and managers of this establishment are doing both their customer service representatives and their patrons a disservice by not giving them the information they need.

So movie theaters around the world, please make sure your customer service reps can answer a simple question. When a patron calls asking if The Hobbit will be shown in 48 fps, they should be answered with: Yes or No. Even a, “We aren’t quite sure yet, but we hope so,” would be better than what I got.

Oh, and if anyone reads this, happens to call the Regal Opry Mills IMAX and gets a better answer than I did, please let me know! ;)

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19 thoughts on “Yes or No: Is it really that hard?

  1. Servetus

    Reblogged this on Me + Richard Armitage and commented:
    Links to a source — we hope — for accurate information about where to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 48 fps — and also a post that absolutely expresses my deepest sentiments about the information politics about 48 fps, which from my perspective are turning into a debacle. IS IT REALLY THAT HARD? Indeed. [Comments closed here -- go over there to comment.]

  2. Leigh

    I’m with you on the rant. What is so hard about giving a potential customer an honest answer, even if that answer is, “I don’t know”? Here, the few movie theatres that show English-language films (and those involve an overnight trip from my village) can’t even tell me if they plan to show “The Hobbit”, let alone whether they can show it in 3D or 48 fps. Apparently, I need to wait until the end of November to check back. Argh!

    • You have more to be frustrated about than I do, Leigh. At least I know I’ll be able to see the movie, whether it is in 48 fps or not. I just wish they could give a straight answer.

  3. Servetus

    What this says to me confirms what I thought when I wrote about my own worries about this — that Peter Jackson et al just decided after that convention kerfuffle that they weren’t even going to try to sell theater owners / operators on this concept, even with the most basic information. They decided that they were going to let the customers take care of that. OK, fine. But I can imagine that the reason this operator was such a jerk had to do with this not being the first conversation like this that he’s had. He’s blindsided by the interest and reacting defensively — but without actual information, with which it’s hard to avoid concluding that the distributor declined to supply him.

    • It does seem as if Peter Jackson and company have fallen down on the job as far as promoting the 48 fps and putting in the effort to sell as many theaters on the technology as possible.

      Part of me feels bad for thinking this, but I can’t help wondering if the long winded, inaccurate response is almost a way of trying to keep patrons. If they say no, there is a chance they’ll lose customers to another establishment that has upgraded (although this is the theater I would have imagined would have been the one to upgrade in Nashville).

      • Servetus

        “trying to keep patrons” — yes, and if he hadn’t been rude to you I’d have been more sympathetic to that than I felt a few moments ago. I’m sure that a lot of theater owners looked at this and decided against purely on cost grounds (as I wrote in my post), and I want to be sympathetic to them. I just wish they could say that, or say, we hope you want to see it here anyway, as opposed to lying to you.

  4. Jas, I would love to sit around and rant about 48 fps and rude cinema workers etc., but I still can’t past the fact that The Hobbit will open on the 28th of Dec here.
    The 28th!!!!!
    Yup, 2 WHOLE weeks after the rest of the world sees it! The posters with this date are up and I’d throw rotten eggs at them if I had any on hand (mental note to self: stock up on eggs….).
    If I wasn’t going to London I wouldn’t see the film till after Christmas and after all of you have sifted through it ;)
    I’m at a point where I really don’t care if it’s Sir PJ’s fancy 48 fps or if it’s a terrble pirated copy downloaded off the internet. Darn it, I’m seeing the film as soon as it’s out!

    • You would think with all the technological advances we have in the world, they would figure out how to have a movie open world wide on the same day! I really am sorry for those who won’t get to see the film until later on. :(

    • That’s astonishing because it opens on the 13th in Hungary, so it can’t be because of the dubbing. Do they dub all blockbusters into Polish Agzy as they do in Hungary? I have no wish to watch the film with Hungarian voices, thank you very much. :)

      • No dubbing, unless it’s a children’s fiml, which The Hobbit is not. I really don’t know WTK unless they figured that it’s too close to Christmas which is a huge deal here in Poland. Maybe they figured people would be too focused o preparing to go see a film, hence them pushing it till after.
        The bastards!

  5. I’m still dreaming about hanging at a bar having a with a beer with a rather tall dwarf … ;)
    If only i could write!!! Jas, Hope you feel better soon!

  6. Mezz

    Agzy, I share your frustration, but at least you will be in London! We don’t get to see it here in any format in Australia until Boxing Day. I’m already having conversations with myself about what I’m going to do for that two weeks. Stay offline? Not read anything about it while others have “sifted through it” as you put it? Impossible! Wallowing in everything Hobbity and to heck with the consequences? Then I risk spoiling my own experience. Aaaarrrrgggh!

    • I’m frustrated for you ladies!

      I have no advice for you as to how to avoid spoilers until the film comes out where you live. I recently came across a major spoiler for a favorite television show from another country that made me disinclined to even watch the show any longer. :(

      Hopefully you will find a good balance. At least with a movie people shouldn’t have screencaps or animated gifs or anything of the sort posted on the web and giving too much away.

  7. Joanna

    Just imagine Agzym, all those new pictures, delightful interviews, our disscussions…even spoilers;)!
    I will be happy like “pig in Chardonnay”!!!:D

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