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Comments for Journal Article: Sacramento, CA: Century Arden 14 and XD Opens on Site of Former Century Stadium 14

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Sacramento, CA: Century Arden 14 and XD Opens on Site of Former Century Stadium 14

The Century Arden 14 and XD in Sacramento, California opened to the public today (December 1, 2016), according to a press release issued recently by parent company Cinemark USA, Inc. which operates theaters under the Cinemark, Century Theatres, CineArts, Tinseltown, and Rave Cinemas brands across... (more)

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Jul 19, 2017 - BigScreen Reader  

This is an open letter to everyone involved with the new Century Arden 14 theater, including those at Cinemark, SyWest Development, and the press which publicized its grand opening:

As you may know, I spoke out against the construction of this theater several times after its plans were revealed, including an online petition, two appearances on local TV news, an article in the Sacramento Bee and appearing at City of Sacramento Planning Commission meetings where it was discussed and ultimately approved. My main concern was that it was intended to replace the iconic Century 21 and 22 dome theaters, but I felt that it hardly did justice to what those two theaters were when they were brand-new. Having attended many of my first movies at the similar domes in San Jose, they set the benchmark for how I judge an experience at any theater- despite the two Sacramento domes foolishly being split in half in the 70s (the two main ones in San Jose never were), I had hoped for years that they would ultimately be restored back to their original glory. As it was determined by Cinemark that it was more cost-effective to demolish them and build a brand-new theater, I could not argue too much with that but I did severely object to its design based on diagrams and drawings I had seen. Being a huge fan of movies and theaters (working in the business myself for ten years including a short stint at the older Century Complex, which I did not stay at very long as I found it too heartbreaking to be around the crudely-split domes) I would love to have a theater in this area that I could be confident in attending at least on a weekly basis regardless of what movies were showing; so far NONE in the area have met that standard although a fully restored Century 21 and 22 certainly would have.

I know some of you are sick of hearing from me by now, but despite my strong opposition to this theater’s construction I vowed that I would attend a showing there and give it a fair chance once it opened. Having done so on its first day open to the public, I hope that you will read my impressions of it:

I’ll start with the positives first. I saw “Arrival” in the “XD” auditorium, and was pleasantly surprised by the overall size of the theater and screen. It is quite spacious and comparable at least to the two smaller domes in the old complex, although of course it lacks their unique shape with its rather plain square design. Additionally, the size of the screen itself appears comparable to those of the larger (un-split) domes, which exceeded my expectations. I even saw good reason for the reduced seating capacity, as the installed seats are of significantly higher quality than any other theater seats I have seen and given plenty of space so that patrons can enter and exit their seats without disturbing those remaining seated. (The low seating capacity will still likely prevent this theater from EVER hosting any sort of gala premiere event, as there simply won’t be room for more than a handful of people.)

That said however, I will NOT be returning to this theater again, and while I admit that it could have turned out far worse than it did I will forever refer to it as “The Mistake”, as I mentioned at several of the meetings and even on a TV appearance. The reason is one that I had brought to the forefront in my online petition as well as at a number of meetings: All 14 of the screens in this new theater are natively 1.85 ratio. This means right away that movies in the 2.35 “scope” format (roughly 95% of the big tentpole releases intended to pack theaters) appear SMALLER on these screens, rather than larger and wider as they were intended. The older Century domes were designed with widescreen movies in mind (the very first in San Jose was even built for 3-projector Cinerama), with screens that commanded the audience’s entire field of vision and made these movies appear larger than life, many of which are still in my mind decades later. It was alarming when many theaters built since the late 1990s had native 1.85 screens showing scope movies in a smaller area with  

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