Crix gripe over plexes

Ebert, Roeper complain about movie theaters

LAS VEGAS — When film critics Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper were first invited to speak to exhibs at the annual ShoWest confab, they initially planned to review recent movie trailers. But there was one problem with that idea.

“The studios wouldn’t give us any trailers,” Ebert explained to an audience assembled in a large theater at the Paris hotel here Wednesday.

Instead, Ebert summarized his opinions about movie trailers in general: They’re too loud, too long and reveal too much plot.

Then the televised duo turned their sights on the audience itself.

“Like any other viewer, we sometimes are thrilled with the quality of the (movie theater), and sometimes we say ‘How can they do that?’ ” Roeper noted.

And with that warning, he and his partner recited a litany of complaints about modern movie theaters:

  • too few mature ushers and managers;

  • too much air conditioning;

  • too little soundproofing between multiplex auditoriums;

  • too many cell phones;

  • too few big screens;

  • too-bright house lights during films.

Ebert gave a thumbs down to stadium seating because of seniors’ difficulties in negotiating stairs, but Roeper gave the innovation a thumbs up for improved sight lines. There were two thumbs down for too few adult-oriented pics — and too few films in general — at megaplexes.

“You go to one of these big places and read the marquee, and you see ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Lord of the Rings,’ “Roeper complained.

The pair suggested exhibs would do well to add specialty films like “Memento” and “Monster’s Ball” to the programming mix at commercial venues.

Ebert, who was looking healthy after recent surgery, added one more complaint to his gripe list. “Is it possible to sell anything at the concession stand that doesn’t kill?” he asked.

ShoWest ends Thursday with events including an evening awards gala.

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