If you see only one film this year, I have always said, it should be something with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Now I must add, if you only see one film this year … you probably aren’t aware of the many recent upgrades going on at Rochester cineplexes. Here’s an overview:
Paragon Chateau 14
There are always two types of people. In “Pulp Fiction,” for instance, Quentin Tarantino breaks it down that you’re either an Elvis man or a Beatles man.
I say you’re either the type, when begrudgingly dragged to a furniture store, to quickly find what looks like the most comfy La-Z-Boy and joyride it for the duration, or, you belly-flop on the first king-size Serta you encounter and pretend to nap. Being the former, I had been looking for an excuse to travel to the other end of town to test drive the new recliners that Paragon installed in all 14 of their auditoriums this summer.
Long story short (something you rarely get from writers paid by the word) they are comfortable. Very comfortable — in both upright and when reclined. (The transition is effortless, or, to quote Tony Taglialucci in “Carlito’s Way,” “One button, I push!”) Paragon’s Niki Wilson told me the rows are twice as far apart as they used to be and the seats are about 40 percent wider. (Total theater capacity has been reduced by 60 percent!) Behind each row is a wall to ensure that even if Sultan Kösen is sitting behind you your seat doesn’t get kicked. That alone is worth the price of admission. The wood-laminate floors and growler-sized cup-holders give it a man-cave vibe.
Positives: I found 40 cents in the seat cushion.
Negatives: It will make staying awake through M. Night Shyamalan’s films even more difficult.
Cinemagic Stadium 12
Over on the west side of town, Cinemagic Stadium 12 has just completed the installation of the Barco Escape panoramic system, a triple-screen setup that measures about 100 feet wide. I got a sneak peek last Wednesday from Barco Escape VP Jeff Wilk and have to say it definitely amps up the cinematic experience.
Out of habit, I took a middle theater seat, to which Wilk offered, “Younger audiences like to sit up close, immersed and engaged. There really are no bad seats, only different experiences.” Once the demo began, that was apparent.
For nine minutes, high-quality digital vistas, GoPro-camera adrenalin-junkie-type action, animations, and a sample of an upcoming Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga concert capitalized on the expanded screen real estate. My eyes darted around trying to drink it all in though not in an exhausting Wimbledon-watching way. Rather, there’s something to see everywhere. This, of course, is determined by the filmmaker. Former GNR guitarist Slash, for example, is developing a horror film for the medium and I would expect plenty of unsettling things creeping around in the peripheral adding to the overall feel.
“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” premiered the new format and CineMagic VP of Operations Gary Westmark told me feedback was positive; “Mind blowing” was one of the comments. I concur.
Positives: Enough screen width to support a Kirstie Alley comeback.
Negatives: Ticket price comparable to 3D. Too few films currently exploiting the format.
Wehrenberg Galaxy 14 Cine
“Moviegoers are educated, they know the difference between 2.0 and 7.1 sound,” Wehrenberg’s Kelly Hoskins told me when I asked about the family-owned business’s latest investment in Rochester. “They deserve the best, and you can’t get better than IMAX.”
That’s right, Rochester’s venerable MEGASCREEN is getting MEGA-er … err, more MEGA. The upgrade was not a salvo against other area improvements. “We are always working to install updated versions of cinematic equipment for our guests,” Hoskins said.
Wehrenberg just completed construction on their Bloomington property where the IMAX screen rises more than three stories high. Now it’s our turn.
Construction at the southeast Rochester complex begins this Saturday. The first IMAX film will be the Nov. 6 opening of the new Bond film “Spectre.”
Positives: Bigger screen, crisper audio. Unique film offerings.
Negatives: Pricey admission and, depending on how close you sit, chiropractic follow-up.