Majestic 10 adds a new dimension2/19/09

Feb. 19, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

With the recent installation of new three-dimensional cinema equipment, Williston now offers some of the most state-of-the-art movie-going experiences in Vermont.


    Observer photo by Stephen Mease
The Majestic 10 movie theater in Williston has added new technology that allows it to show movies in digital 3-D.

The Majestic 10 movie theater at Maple Tree Place installed new digital projection units in two of its theaters to offer customers a cinema experience they previously could find regionally only in Montreal.

Majestic 10 co-owner Howard Blank said the new kinds of 3-D films will play an important role in the future of movie entertainment.

“It’s our intention to do what we can to keep up with the pace of technology,” Blank said.

Today’s digital, three-dimensional technology is a far cry from 3-D movies of the past. Before, 3-D movies were filmed two-dimensionally and then converted for the extra dimension. Blank said the effects weren’t always convincing, and sometimes made customers sick. But with today’s digital filming techniques, 3-D movies are actually filmed in three dimensions.

“It looks real because it is real,” Blank said.

Digital 3-D films have been slow to take off in recent years, even though the technology is available. It might have had something to do with the cost. Blank would not specify how much it cost to install the new equipment, only saying it was “absurdly expensive.” The theater bought two 6,000-watt digital projectors, computer servers and other 3-D equipment.

The theater also had to purchase new 3-D glasses, which Blank said are a big improvement over the old glasses associated with such films. Gone are the red and green cellophane and cardboard glasses, which originated in the 1950s when science fiction and monster movies attempted 3-D. Today’s eyewear resembles sunglasses, Blank said, and are far more comfortable.

Like the 3-D theater equipment, the glasses don’t come cheap. Blank said the cinema purchased more than 1,000 pairs at $30 apiece. Customers who want to see the film in 3-D can rent the glasses for an extra $2 on top of the cost of admission.

The first 3-D film Majestic 10 will show on the new equipment is Focus Features’ stop-motion animated film “Coraline.” The fantasy movie’s plot centers around a young girl who discovers an alternate reality of her life, which turns out to be not as pleasant as she originally thought. The film is adapted from a short story by Neil Garman, and created and directed by Henry Selick, famous for directing Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Blank said the film opened at the Majestic 10 on Feb. 6, and audiences he talked to said it was a whole new film-going experience.

“It’s a nice early success for us,” Blank said.

Blank said the movie theater would be the only one in the state to show the concert film “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.” He expects a huge turnout of teenage fans when the movie opens on Feb. 27.

Other 3-D films in the works include the DreamWorks computer animated film “Monsters vs. Aliens,” to be released on March 27, and Disney and Pixar’s animated movie “Up.”

Blank said digital 3-D filmmaking has attracted big-name producers and directors. James Cameron, famous for writing and directing the first two Terminator films and 1997’s Best Picture “Titanic,” said he would only make films in digital 3-D. Cameron’s “Avatar” film is due out on Dec. 18.

George Lucas has even indicated that he would release all six of the Star Wars films in 3-D formats, although Blank has not heard a timetable on when that might happen.

Blank said he’s excited about the 3-D films coming down the pipeline, and excited about what it could mean for the movie-going public.

“I see 3-D cinema as a very important piece of the theater industry,” Blank said.