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:
- Did you know that EVERY theater in the United States uses digital projectors now?
- 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!