Last night, Michael Moore went on a Twitter spree, disparaging mainstream exhibitors for ruining the moviegoing experience with poor quality projection. "Has anyone else but me noticed that movies projected in theaters these days appear darker on the screen than usual?" he asked, posing a series of rhetorical questions and taunts to his nearly 1 million followers. "Have all these digital projectors wrecked the movie-going experience? Are they using the cheaper lamps to save $$?"
Moore, of course, isn't the first to suggest that movie theater's images have been losing their lustre, lately. Last May, Roger Ebert explored the issue in a post called "The dying of the light," where he wrote:
"Driven by a mania to abandon celluloid in favor of digital, increasing numbers of chains are installing 3D-ready digital projectors. As everyone can tell simply by taking off their 3D glasses, the process noticeably reduces the visible light from the screen....
"But what if you saw the movie in 2D?" continues Ebert, who cites a report in the Boston Globe that claims 3D projectors produce "gloomy, underlit" images of 2D films, and found dark images on eight of 19 screens at a high-end AMC Loews multiplex in Boston. The underlying reason: "Many theater managers have made a practice of leaving the 3D lenses on the projectors when playing a 2D film."
Moore's Twitter postings argue the same. "Automated digital projectors, 3D filters that are not taken off to show a 2D movie- they are killing their own business," he wrote last night. "So the crappy look on the screen at your local multiplex is not the filmmaker's fault. Corp theater chains are trying to get by on the cheap."
He also suggests that 3D requires a silver screen and "thus theaters have switched to them instead of a white screen which is what film requires."
Moore touted his own State Theatre for retaining "professional projectionists, we don't dim down the bulbs, & the picture on the screen is never dark."
While the discussion is continuing to ripple out this morning, as others take up the discussion, Moore ended his Twitter tirade last night with the following post, both angry and hopeful: "Thank u for allowing me this rant on how capitalism is killing the movies. It's worth fighting 4, isn't it, this great art form, the cinema?"