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TOPIC: Poll Questions?

Poll Questions? 21 Aug 2003 17:46 #20224

How about a question to survey what is the best level for house lights during the credits and/or a secord one for during the feature?

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Re: Poll Questions? 22 Aug 2003 07:53 #20225

  • jimor
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In many jurisdictions (municipalities) the local ordinances or building inspectors' practice dictate what the minimum light level must be whenever the place is open to the public. Sometimes the city designates certain light fixtures must be "always 'on'", as they did at the CHICAGO. In the movie palaces this was more necessary in later years as the owners allowed the thousands of light bulbs that provided decorative light in the walls and ceilings to burn out and not be replaced (usually done through arduous climbing along catwalks, hence more time consuming and expensive than relamping regular wall fixtures). In these cases, the inspectors often wrote up a list of the fixtures to be left on at some level.

From what I've heard, enforcement these days is much more lax, with few cinemas having more than a rope light string or such down the aisles during the feature. Too much light would, of course, cause glare in the vision of the patrons, so lights must be dimmer and as according to SMPTE recommendations. I think that most cinemas should increase the light level during the credits since there will always be those getting up and leaving regardless of how little light there is, and then they stumble over themselves and others since they can't really see to pick up their coats, refreshments, the kids, etc. Since most cinemas are fully automated these days, you would think it no big deal to program a second level of dimming or secondary light fixtures to turn on during the credits. Perhaps some sort of agreed 'marker' should be fixed on all films at the start of the credits to cause such an automated cinema to increase the lights. 'Course, the studios' contracts with the unions dictate much of the titles and credits, so maybe the unions would object loudly to anything that might detract from the patrons "enjoying" their workers' credits. I realize that lights cost money, but I think a modest increase is in order in many places I've seen.

It's ironic that this even comes up, since back around 1920 there were movements amoung the exhibitors to legislate increases in auditorium light levels in the photoplay parlors of the time (very akin to our cinemas of today) in order to reduce the chances of "undesireable acquaintances between the young ladies in the audience and certain strangers" ('mashers' as the audacious men of the day used to be called). The exhibitors' groups felt that any publicity of a woman being freightened in one of their establishments would reflect negatively on them all, and perhaps reduce ticket sales to women. The movie palaces came into existance beginning that year, and with their large corps of ushers, plus elaborate, brighter lighting, the problem of men taking unwanted liberties with the 'faire sex' were largely eliminated. The nickelodeons and later, the photoplay 'parlors,' were often black holes in which some unsavory men found refuge, rather like the porn theatres of today (I guess that human nature hasn't changed, it just become more blatant today). The PARKWAY in Milwaukee was one such in the 1970-80s, before it was razed, and the manager was astonished when I innocently asked him to turn 'on' the house lights during the intermission since I had never seen the decor. He said "we NEVER turn 'on' the house lights!!!" whereupon I lost my innocence as to what 'entertainment' some theatres were accustomed to. Just a little history.

[This message has been edited by jimor (edited August 22, 2003).]
Jim R. (new E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) member: www.HistoricTheatres.org
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