Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of No Audio

Reader Brenden went to see the new Indiana Jones movie last night, and spent the last 10 minutes of the movie watching it with no audio. Rather than stopping the movie and handing out free passes, the theater just let it play with no sound, then refused to rewind it.

Brenden writes:

I went to see Indian Jones at the Showcase Cinemas in Woburn MA. I won’t comment on the movie, for those who haven’t seen it, but 10 minutes from the end, at the big climax the sound goes out. Totally. The movie is still playing, but now in silent mode. The house lights flicker for a second, then stay off. After a moment of audience murmurs someone comes in the back of the theater and announces “We just lost power for a minute. (there had been a storm going on), we’re going to re-wind it to the point the sound shut off”. That seemed to work for everyone, so we quieted down.

A minute later we started to realize they weren’t shutting off the movie, they just let it play. The longer this went on the more people were talking. They let it play right to the credits, when someone finally got up and asked again. Then they told us they wouldn’t be rewinding it. Luckily there was another theater that started a half hour after our show, so most of us went there, and afterwards lined up at the customer service counter and got a free ticket.. but still.. Come on!

Well, that’s just not how you handle that at all. Boo.


Edit Your Comment

  1. scoobydoo says:

    How should they have handled it? They gave away free tickets AND you still got to see the end of the movie. I’m really not sure what more they could have done, as I’m not that knowledgeable on movie projectors. Perhaps it’s not as easy as pressing “rewind”.

  2. Verdigris says:

    I had this happen when I watched Superbad. It was near the end when the film got burned.

    The theatre handled it much differently though. We all got free tickets to come see it the next day as well as a free ticket for any movie in the future.

    Some places just don’t know how to handle screw ups…

  3. reiyaku says:

    I used to worked for a movie theater and honestly, there is no way they could really rewind that film. I also worked as a guest services attendent too, and the best thing the theater could really do is give out passes to the guest who were in that affected theater. =

  4. ironchef says:

    actually…you can’t rewind films.

    Theaters put movies on HUGE 6 ft diameter platters that never needs to rewind. If you want to see a movie, you need to watch it from the start again after the movie has fully completed. It’s impractical to show you the half hour you missed since a typical movie film reel can weigh nearly 150 lbs and it is sitting on one gigantic loop with a take up reel. It’s not like a movie project you are used to.

  5. Couple guesses:
    1. They probably needed to stick to the timing to allow for cleaning and the next showing.
    2. You still got free tix, which for the theatre represents quite an outlay (opportunity cost vs. paid tix).

  6. starrion says:

    Showcase in Woburn is pretty rundown. They slapped a new lobby on it, but other theatres in the area are much better.

  7. chucknorrissfist says:

    Having been a projectionist for a movie theatre before you cannot “rewind” movie. The film sits on 3 big platters and travels from one to the other while going through the projector. It doesn’t even have the capability to go in reverse. Usually if something like what the poster describes happens you have to just take the free ticket and move on.

  8. Letsgohokies says:

    @ironchef: Is it the same way with the “digital projectors” that are being put into use now?

  9. Nissan288 says:

    i remember seeing star wars episode 1 the day it came out and the audio died during the pod racing scene. Nerds were threating to set the place on fire. Mangement came out and they turned off the movie to rewind the movie (ie, take it off the projector reel, start over, and fast forward to where it was. They also offered to give us free tickets to another show. No big deal and we clapped after the manager said his shtick.

    Another time watching the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie a guy had a seizure and my friends who were nurses had to help him stop from choking to death on his own vomit. Needless to say, they rewound the movie (but no free tix since they didn’t make the guy go into seizure…it was during a talking and boring scene too…)

  10. ironchef says:

    Films are never rewound manually, btw.

  11. blackmage439 says:

    This happened during the Matrix: Reloaded, for a good 5 minutes. I didn’t receive any sort of compensation.

  12. 67alecto says:

    Saw one film where it melted during the credits – was one of those movies where they show bloopers at the end, so everyone initially thought it was intentional. Oops.

    In another movie, the film melted right during the climactic showdown between the Rogue Cop ™ and the Uncatchable Bad Guy ™. Went dark for 5 minutes and then they spliced it back and resumed.

    Last one was about an hour in The Presitge. The film melted and…that was it. The manager came out and said that was the only print they had and there was nothing they could do. Got a free pass to see another movie at some later date (and since we were on vacation, that did nothing for us).

  13. fluiddruid says:

    Same thing happened to me with House of Flying Daggers at the (brand new, at the time) theatre at Jordan Creek Mall, West Des Moines, IA.

    Their “policy” is to never rewind a movie, and it was fixed after about 10-15 minutes. I demanded a pass so I could come back another time, and they really dragged their heels about it and asked me accusingly, “Are you still going to watch the movie?” Uh, no, I’m coming back when I can actually see both the video and sound.

  14. Jabberkaty says:

    What a buzz-kill!

  15. ironchef says:

    chances are they had to fast forward to the new takeup reel, instead of rewinding.

  16. joemono says:

    Wait, so they saw the movie twice, and got a free pass… “BUT STILL!”

  17. billbillbillbill says:

    We went to a movie a few months back, the sound was screwed up from the start. It was one of those new digital projectors which the staff didn’t know how to work or fix. They came in, told us they would give us a free pass to go to the same movie another time, an extra pass to see another, and told us that we could wander to any theater that had a movie starting soon and see it.

    I was quite satisfied and got a 3 for 1!

  18. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I am under the impression that lots of theaters will run multiple screens from one real. There are guides that take it from the earlier showing into the next theater to show it 20 – 30 minutes later.

    stopping and rewinding your’s might have stopped it for audience where you went.

    It seems there was enough room next door, the manager should have just sent you there and offered compensation, rather than promising something he couldn’t deliver.

    It sounds like a typical PHB, where the manager doesn’t understand the operation well enough to do it correctly.

  19. statnut says:

    @blackmage439: Missing 5 minutes of that movie is compensation enough.

  20. statnut says:

    @joemono: Yeah that was kind of my thought. What is there to complain about?

  21. Zerkaboid says:

    Not sure why there’s a complaint here. I’ve had similar experiences, when I saw The Simpsons Movie there was an awfully loud buzz for about 10 minutes in the beginning (we could still hear dialogue but it was very annoying) and everyone received a free pass on the way out.

    Years earlier during Man on the Moon the projecter tried to eat the film with about 30 minutes to go, so they offered all of us free passes and we got to go watch the last hour of the film in another theater (yeah we watched a large portion twice, but I didn’t want to come back just for the end).

    I think the theater handled the situation very well. If he was watching Indy 4 on film it’s not as simple as “rewinding it” like a tape, it’s a pain in the ass and time consuming to get film back to a specific point in a projector. If it was DLP, I’m not sure the process of rewinding that but I imagine it’s easy.

  22. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I have seen films melt in discount theaters and drive ins (there is one in a rural area about 100 miles out of town, no I was already there, I didn’t go that far just for a movie), but never a major 1st run theater (I only go to newer ones, the prices are the same the experience is better).

    If the Projector stops for any reason, the film will melt from the heat of the light bulb. Fortunately for the theaters a splice will not be too noticeable, typically only loosing 1-2 seconds (could suck for some dialog though).

  23. crabbyman6 says:

    Heh, something like this happened when I saw the third Lord of the Rings movie. The last 30 minutes of the film the sound was just off of the video by like a minute. Several people complained but no one got anything. Though it could have been worse. My friends at another theater said theirs melted at about the same point our sound went wonky, but they got free tickets.

    Like ironchef said, the reels these movies are on are HUGE and the film winds its way around a huge track in the projection room so its not a trivial task to rewind a movie and they won’t risk damaging the film since that’s their biggest expense. The theater I worked for actually lost money on the movies, all their positive income came from concessions.

  24. wgrune says:

    In my opinion, you would have been better off without the audio. The script and acting was better off not being heard.

  25. ezacharyk says:

    The biggest problem I had with a movie theatre was My family went to see a movie, I can’t remember which one, but it had Tim Allen in it. We went into the cinema and sat down, the movie started. It had Tim Allen in it, so we watched for about 15 minutes. That is when we realized that the plot was nothing like the commercials we saw.

    So we went out and saw that right next to it was the cinema that was supposed to be playing the movie that we watched 15 minutes of. So we went into it and the movie we wanted to watch was playing in there. My dad went to complain and the manager said they would take care of it.

    We went into the cinema that was playing the movie we wanted to watch and finished the movie.

    When it was over the management just had the employees switch the signs. That was it. Not refund, no free tickets. Nothing. Just a sign change.

  26. Zerkaboid says:

    Also I’d like to add that the blurb for this story on the main page is incredibly misleading. Saying that “they let it play without sound and refused to rewind it”, while accurate, leaves out the very important and story-changing bits involving finishing the movie in another theater and getting a free pass. Slow day?

  27. Kevinb77 says:

    Ok here is the deal with “Rewinding” It cannot be done. I worked for Showcase Cinemas in the same region as Woburn, MA about 7 years ago. The proper thing the GM or House manager on staff should have done was give out freebie prestige tickets and call it a day. Since the theater uses film on a platter to platter system you cannot just rewind it. It is not like they are using DVD or tape here people. Now I do disagree with the theater not giving out the free passes for the mishap, but come on people you can’t actually expect them to be able to “rewind” film for Gods sake!

  28. Jaysyn was banned for: says:


    I thought that the new standard for modern movie houses was more like a DAT than film.

  29. Shaftoe says:

    I am a film maker. Granted not on the level of Lucas or even Ed Wood for that matter but my point is that as such I spend a lot of time energy and money to make the best story I can and I want as many people as possible to see what I have made. I would say get ahold of Lucas and Speilberg themselves and bitch about the poor presentation of their work.
    Several years ago I was cajolled into making a tribute to our parish priest who was going to be celebrating 50th anniversary of his entry into the priesthood. They were to show it at a presentation at the Vatican while the choir and a large group were visiting there. The yahoos could not get the audio to work but ran the film anyway. Though not present when I heard about the problem and solution, I just about blew a gasket

  30. Coco Schwab says:


    They aren’t one 6 foot reel, movies are delivered in segments of 20 minutes or so, and the reels are switched between two projectors. The projectionist uses the ‘cigarette burn’ cue to make the switch.

    There is also a special machine to rewind the reels.

    This is also explained in Fight Club.

  31. Truvill says:

    OMG Shia’s adorable!

  32. hayisforhorses says:


    Man they did you a favour!

  33. KyleOrton says:

    @ironchef: It’s been a while since I ran a projector, but I’m sure I remember rewinding a couple movies by a few minutes by hand. It’s a pain in the ass, but what did I care?

  34. Balisong says:

    @Coco Schwab: What you describe is rarely done anymore, except in older theaters.

    This is explained in the director’s commentary in Fight Club.

  35. flintstone03 says:

    I worked as a projectionist for 3 years, the “rewinding” of a film can be done, but as KyleOrtoon says, it’s a huge pain in the ass. It would take roughly 10 minuest to “rewind” 2 to 3 minutes of the film…There’s not much more that the Theater could have done and it’s nice that you lot were able to watch the end of the film and not have to sit through the whole thing again with your free tickets.

  36. Rachael says:

    @AustinTXProgrammer: You’re right, often when a theater has showings that close together they’ll thread one movie so it goes into another theater. I don’t think it happens unless you’re dealing with a movie like this one, where there are tons of showings back to back.

    A movie CAN be “rewound” but it takes a ton of effort, as everyone’s already says. The time it would take to do it plus the time you’d lose watching the last 10 minutes would put everything behind, and that can have massive fallout. I had to start a movie 5 minutes late once and, since it was the first showing, it screwed up the entire day because with a big movie you’re required to have X number of showings so they really pack it in there. You might have only 5 minutes of downtime after the credits finish rolling from the prior showing, and in that time you have to get the theater cleaned, get everyone seated, etc…

    It sucks when the movie doesn’t go right but if you get a pass, it’s not the end of the world. Mistakes happen.

  37. MercuryPDX says:

    @joemono: Agreed. Maybe he was holding out for free concessions for life or something like that?

  38. Shaftoe says:

    WE have this small historical theater in my neighborhood that still sell popcorn for a buck and shows first run films. I went to see the Tom Cruise version of War of the Worlds when it was playing. In the scene where they are in the basement of the kid’s parent’s house and the jet crashes, right when all the shaking and noise takes place, we get the dreaded lamp burn. I actually thought it was an effect until I saw sprocket holes.
    The stopped the film, respliced the print appologised profusely and gave us all free passes to the theater. It took 20 minutes but they made it right by the audiance. And regardless of the technical difficulties at the theater in question, they should have done the same.
    Just my opinion

  39. RockStarr says:

    Indiana Jones was not realeased in Digital anyways so like others have said it would be a major PITA to “rewind”

  40. xBlackListedx says:

    I was like 20 minutes into Million Dollar Baby and the whole thing shut down. The basically said, “Sorry, you’re shit outta luck.” I got a refund, but dang… tease a Brotha with 20 minutes… that’s cruel.

  41. gaberussell says:

    The movie theater experience these days, even at “premium” cinemas, is pretty poor. Most chains have automated the projection process to the point where there’s no full-time projectionist. Often when I’ve reported problems (focus, audio, etc), the managers say there’s nobody available to fix them. Their only option is to give you a free pass or, if you really push, a refund.

    The only decent film viewing experiences left are indie theaters (Landmark and the locals) and your living room. The staff is more knowledgeable and the punk kids usually stay away.

  42. scoosdad says:

    @Coco Schwab: Wow, that kind of projection went out in the 70’s. No one but college movie theaters and low rent mom and pop theaters projects from individual reels with “changeovers” between projectors using cue marks anymore. It’s too labor intensive nowadays especially in multiplexes.

    The only reason the film is broken down into smaller reels nowadays is because a two hour movie in one reel would be too large and too heavy to ship all over the place. Showcase takes those reels of film and splices them together onto one large horizontal “platter”. Because it’s pulled off the center of the spool, it’s impossible to run the film backwards and put it back in. Think “eight track tape cartridge”, but with movie film.

    The film from the center of the feeding platter goes through the projector and is wound back onto an empty platter in the same fashion so that at the end of the film, there is zero time needed to rewind any film. That takeup platter simply becomes the feed platter for the next show. Lather rinse repeat. All in the name of reducing labor costs. Sometimes the same print of the film travels across the projection booth and is used for another next-door theater for multiple showings before hitting the takeup platter.

    Wikipedia has an excellent explantion of how it works, look under “single reel system” on this page:


    Now if the Woburn Showcase happened to be showing the print digitally, that should have been a no brainer to back the movie up. BTW, the primary reason for going digital, from the film company’s standpoint? Saving money on the shipping of all those film cans. It actually has very little to do with wanting to improve image quality or reliability. That’s why digital projection hasn’t caught on everywhere. The film companies benefit from not having to pay for all this shipping, but the theater companies are resisting having to absorb the cost for installing the new equipment, without receiving any help from the film companies to do it. But that’s another topic.

  43. I love movies, but every time I see one in theaters, I get a new reason to never see a movie in the theater again.

    I watched the entirety of Iron Man the other day out of focus. Maybe I should have told them, but I only saw one employee in the entire theater, and he was running the concession stand.

  44. tomakins says:

    Thanks to Ironchef for the clip. I worked in a theater for years and no one understands that “rewinding” a film is not possible. You would have to rebuild the film and fast forward by bypassing the projector onto a platter running at build speed and then try to hook it all back up.

    The process would go like this: you would have to take everything apart by cutting the film, putting it back together (which it usually doesn’t fit back into the center of the platter (see film) since the film is compressed by the platter winding it tight) and then you would have to manually fast forward to the point where the sound was lost by bypassing the projector.

    Not only would that fast forwarding potentially destroy the film (since it wouldn’t even be running through the projector at that point) but it would take about 1/4 the time that was shown just to catch up. So if you are two hours into a movie you are looking at 10 minutes to take it apart/resplice and then 30 minutes to fast forward. At that point “hopefully” you can get it all back through the projector again without damaging anything.

    So, damage to the film would happen, the audience would have to wait a LONG time for it to be set up, and the next showing, and every showing after that, would be pushed back.

    It sucks when it happens but there is nothing the theater can do about it other than hand out passes. Unfortunately, some people that work at theaters that are not working in the booth don’t know how the projectors work so they make promises of rewinding before they understand that it is not possible/practical.

    I understand the frustration as I have been in theaters with issues before. Power outages that cause 30-90 seconds of film to wind down before resuming, fire alarms, problems with the digital track cutting out on the print, and just bad building (picture a movie being flipped upside down and backwards half way through, not a good night to be “previewing” a new print).

    Now, as Shaftoe posts, a “break” is easy to fix. You will miss maybe 30 seconds. A good projectionist can take the damaged film apart, resplice, and get it running in no time.

    Balisong is right, it is rare to find a theater that has equipment so old you need to manually switch the reels. They are built onto one large uninterrupted reel.

  45. robotrousers says:

    Like many commenters have said, there’s no rewinding a film. I used to work for a theatre back in college. We had a touchy projector platter that would speed up too much from time to time. I was keeping an eye on it, but unfortunately not close enough. Someone came out of the theatre saying the film had stopped. I run upstairs to find a 4 foot high pile of tangled film on the floor. The platter had spun too fast and threw a good 1 & 1/2 hours worth of film onto the floor. Had to call in a projectionist and cancel the rest of the showings. That guy was still there splicing and spooling when I left at 1 am.

  46. Xerloq says:

    I used to deliver film reels to theaters for a small independent movie distribution company, and to echo the multiple comments here, you can’t rewind film. Films usually come in 2-6 “cans” that have to be spliced together onto the large 6 foot platters in the projection room. The film is taken up from the center of the reel, wound through the projector and taken up on the spool on the opposite side of the room. When the next showing happens, the projectionist takes the film from the center of the reel and repeats the process. Because of the process it is impossible to rewind the film, and even fast forwarding isn’t even that fast. Additionally, resetting the film could push back other viewings causing a theater to lose more money on missed showings. IMHO, the best you can hope for is a free pass, which you got.

    By the way, I think it’s more annoying when the theater incorrectly splices the film and you get big segments out of order.

    And on a third note, I loved delivering our “used” reels to the storage warehouse where the old prints go to be transferred to other theaters. Once the manager let me wander around the room (which was probably as bis as your average grocery store) and peek at the “graveyard” where they stored films that were incomplete or damaged. You wouldn’t believe how many copies of LOTR were there.

  47. sisedi says:

    He’s so so lucky, if he had heard the ending, his mind would’ve erupted in a cacophony of “WTF this is so lame”s and would’ve been seriously annoyed about wasting 2 hours watching a movie so far and away from the originals that it might as well be a spin-off film by another director.

  48. Rajio says:

    You got a free pass to compensate you for the ticket price. What more do you want? fair’s fair. Bad consumer.

  49. suzy-q says:

    Ugh. This happened to me and my friends on the premier night of one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (don’t recall which one). The movie started playing with no sound, and we all thought that the silence was actually part of the movie until people started talking and we didn’t hear what they were saying.

    It went on for about 15 minutes before the sound was fixed. And they didn’t rewind it or give us free passes, btw.

  50. CPC24 says:

    A friend of mine had this happen 20 minutes from the end of Titanic, and the film melted, too. They couldn’t fix it, so he had to see the last 20 minutes another night.

    This is why I try to go to digital screens only. No melting, no scratches, no buzz, and they can rewind.

  51. Voltanis says:

    As someone who used to work as a projectionist at a movie theatre, I can tell you that the “How Stuff Works” video article posted above is INCORRECT when they say the film automatically rewinds. The platter system used for showing film reels has no rewind function on it whatsoever. The platter can be stopped and manually moved back a few seconds worth, but certainly not for 10 minutes+ worth of film. The film is threaded in such a way that when it is time for the next show of that film, it is ready to be threaded exactly the same way as the previous show was, no rewinding necessary.

    Digital projectors CAN be “rewound”, since it is equivalent to playing a DVD or a video file off your PC’s hard drive.

    So if you know you are watching a film projector, and your theatre chain uses the platter system (which I’m sure nearly all of the theatres that still use film do), it cannot be rewound for the 10 minutes that the manager claimed. As bad as it would cost them financially to do so, they should have handed out refunds/rainchecks to anyone who requested one. At least they allowed the OP into a later show free of charge, which is really all that was necessary.

  52. Propaniac says:

    When I saw The Truman Show, the power in the whole theatre building went out at the very end, literally as Truman was turning around to address the person talking to him about something very important. (I tried to phrase that so it wouldn’t spoil anything if you haven’t seen the movie, but trust me, it’s a climactic moment.)

    There was a HUGE thunderstorm outside and the power was clearly not coming back, so they gave us free passes and that was really all they could do.

  53. joellevand says:

    Happened to me back in the 90s when I was a kid (and, embarrassingly, watching Clueless) and the sound got severely out of sync with the film. Luckily, it was within the first twenty minutes or so, so they just stopped the film and re-started it. I’m guessing you can’t actually rewind.

  54. hallam says:

    Although films are delivered on 2000′ reels, they are spliced together to go on a cakestand and there is no way to rewind those.

    Splicing the film and rethreading the projector after the film has jammed in the gate is a different matter. Any competent projectionist should be able to do that. I suspect that the problem was what caused the film to jam in the gate.

    Each frame is only 1/24th of a second and you should not need to take out more than three frames, so its not a show killer.

    Loss of the sound is somewhat weird, you sometimes end up with a bad print that may be noisy on a particular reel. But to loose sound completely is somewhat odd. Of course these days the digital sound tracks are somewhat more complicated. It is quite possible that the last reel was just faulty.

    I know of systems that let you show the same print in different theaters simultaneously, that is with 100′ or so delay between each. Thats just over a minute. Creating a delay of 30 minutes or so would be pretty tricky. I guess you might be able to do that with a cakestand system but its not a trick I would want to rely on with the one I used to use.

    The problem is that the platter can only move at one speed. Either you control the speed of the platter so that the film payout is synchronized on the inside of the loop (the dancer) or you have to synchronize to the film takeup on the outside. The two speeds are different because the film moves at a constant rate per second and the interior and exterior circumferences of the film platter are different.

    I guess there is probably some sort of multi-sprocket film delay device. But to delay the film by 30 minutes you need to store 2700 foot of film in a delay line. That is a lot.

  55. MoreIceCream says:

    That is too bad. Indy dies in the end and the sound is critical for enjoying the movie.

  56. chewiemeat says:

    Gee, this makes me feel so bad for the fact that I haven’t gone to a theater since X-Files in 1998 and prefer to get 90% of my movies off bit torrent.

  57. satoru says:

    Rewinding films is not possible for several reasons:

    1) They’re on gigantic 6ft spools that feed one way only.
    2) Projection machines are not designed to rewind film.
    3) There is no ‘projectionist’ up there watching anything.

    Usually what happens is that on Wednesday a projectionist will come in and begin splicing together the 5-10 small canisters for a single movie. Once that’s done, they’re put on giant spindles and set to play continuously. It’s designed like a giant mobieus strip so the theater managers don’t have to do anything. So when the reel breaks, there isn’t anyone there with any technical skills to fix the problem.

  58. @wgrune: I agree. The dialog and writing was so bad in this movie that I think it might have been better to be completely silent… with subtitles, in Spanish.

    What a pathetic attempt at a fourth movie. This piece of trash doesn’t deserve a place in the epic series of Indiana Jones. This is my opinion, but I have a feeling most of you will be disappointed as well.

    Giving this one 2 out of 10.

  59. Xmar says:

    As been stated, unless the film is digital, it cannot be rewound without a ton of effort.

    The number of projectionists vary from theatre chain to theatre chain. Some will have a projectionist to run the entire megaplex, others won’t have any on duty during parts of the day.

    With the amount of automation now, its easy for a single projectionist to run (aka thread/start) a megaplex (10+ screens) by themselves. On Thursday nights a small team of projectionists will be need for the assembly & disassembly of the films for the coming week.

    Catastrophic stoppage of a film is rare. Much more common is playing the film out of focus, dirty, or having to play a ‘scratched’ film due to mishandling by the projectionist.

  60. Balisong says:

    @satoru: It’s designed like a giant mobieus strip so the theater managers don’t have to do anything.

    That put all sorts of wonderful and terrifying pictures in my head.

  61. Northpike says:

    I use to work for the Regal Entertainment Group many years ago at a theater, that at the time, was only 6 years old. The equipment upstairs, which I was secretly trained on how to splice, start, and stop films (i wasn’t a manager, but the manager who no longer works there trained me because we were good friends). Basically, like everyone is saying, most films are on a big platter. There are 3 usually 3 platters, and btw, most places still use this system. One platter contains the spliced film, which is about 2-3 canisters of film for a 2 hr. movie. It is fed through the projector, and the the film is wound up on another platter, so it can be re-fed through and switched to the other platter. The third platter is for a second film, if the theater doubles up. Theoretically, to rewind such a film, you would have to take it off the projector, and then go through a mile or more (accurate estimate based on frame rate of projector, and length of movie) of film, BY HAND, and find the EXACT spot you left off… with most frames looking almost identical, re-spooling the thing, then starting the projector. The process would, in theory, take about 2 hours minimum. You would be better off watching it over again. Add in that if your at a multiplex (i’ll use the one i worked at as an example), there are 18 projectors that have to almost be constantly re-spooled, started, and tended to if there is any problems, and usually only one projectionist (if things get really bad up there they usually took the manager off the floor if available to assist).

    We didn’t use digital projectors to much, only for the “20”… the previews before the previews if you will. Pretty much everything was downloaded into a computer, and it just ran automatically… I only saw one actual movie played on that projector, and the process for loading it was inserting it into a CD tray on the 35 mil. projector, and flipping a switch, there was no rewind or fast forward (which you can FF on a 35 mil. projector) that I saw on THIS system, but were talking about one theater out of many here.

  62. Hanke says:

    @blackmage439: Did you not want those 5 minutes back? Because they were the only worthy ones.

  63. knyghtryda says:

    Hmm… I have had this happen in a movie before and I swear they rewound the film. Or maybe they just restarted it… I don’t really remember how far along the movie it was.

  64. PalmBayChuck says:

    Me and my son watched this exciting move in theater 7 of Cinema World in Melbourne Florida yesterday. The projectionist accidentally started the wrong movie and we watched the first 5 minutes or so of Labyrinth. The manager came in and apologized and started Indy from the beginning.

    The movie was fun, far fetched escapism at it’s finest.

  65. sponica says:

    Yeah, you can’t rewind the movie. I worked in a theater for more years than I care to remember. Usually when something like this happens, free passes are the standard. Thankfully the one time the theater did lose power, I was on evacuation duty and did not have to manually turn the platters.

  66. thenight11 says:

    wow the same thing happend to me in Edinburg, Texas at the Carmike Cinemas midnight showing. We had a full house and the movie was running with sound but no picture. The whole crowd went crazy and was on the verge on a riot. The theatre managment was rude and told us there was no way for us to watch the movie again,well that upset the whole crowd who started to shout and cuss in the lobby . Thirty minutes later a digital theatre was magically opened, in all my years i had never seen such an angry crowd, just had to add my little story to this one

  67. dharma261 says:

    I was at a presentation about sound with Tomlinson Holman, who started the THX sound specification, and what he said at the time was if you have a bad experience in a theater, ask for your MONEY BACK. Giving free tickets doesn’t really cost the theater anything since you will be still be buying soda, popcorn, hot dogs and etc. Having them have to give you your money back will cause a negative on there balance books, and people higher up will notice that.

  68. Concerned_Citizen says:

    @scoobydoo: You cannot be serious. The fact that they let the last 10 minutes run with no audio already should initiate an automatic refund. Not a free movie, but a refund. A free movie is something they offer when they waste your time by having to rewinding the movie. A refund is something required when they don’t let you watch the full movie. They should have had someone fix it on the spot. When the people went into another theater to watch the ending, that was not the movie theater telling them to do that. That was customers realizing they weren’t being offered anything and took it upon themselves to sneak into another theater to see it. Technically the movie theater could have had them arrested for doing that. And for rewinding the movie, yes they can easily do that. Whether it be a tape or a digital file. Most likely they didn’t want to throw off the start of the next movie. A tape must be “rewinded” after each use anyways because when it plays through the projector it ends up on the opposite reel with the end on the outside.

  69. Ragman says:

    We went to see “The Incredibles” at a new AMC multiplex when they ran the first 10 minutes of “Finding Neverland” by mistake. They did us right by getting the right movie running, handed out passes to everyone, then, since the previews for Incredibles included a Star Wars preview, they ran the preview after the movie so we could see it.

  70. GamblesAC2 says:

    wow sorry man that sucks for you, but hey atleast the movie kicked ass!

  71. Apeweek says:

    Ditto what many other have said here – theater projectors cannot rewind the “platter”, unless it’s a very old theater that still uses movie reels.

    The biggest problem is that theaters are now staffed with minimum wage operators with zero technical background. Misfocused movies, dirty projection lenses, and miscalibrated sound are standard experiences.

    Honestly, I got myself a video projector for my basement, and the picture/sound quality is great, even off standard DVDs. I’m done with theaters.

  72. facework says:

    Home theater systems really are getting better these days than the seriously outmoded theater film technology. HD on a big plasma screen gives a person the depth and clarity of a film shown on a big screen. Plus, you don’t have stupid oafs kicking the back of your chair, getting their fat heads in your way and texting all their little friends.

    Movie theaters do have powerful digital sound that is hard to beat because of professional digital processors and the sheer power of gigantic speakers. But the digital sound is bound to go out periodically because every competitor — Dolby, Sony, DTS — crams their own format down the film strip alongside the picture. Plus the traditional optical backup sound track has to be crammed in there too. Not much space there between the pic & the sprocket holes. You get a projector that’s sloughing off flakes of film, the flakes could effect the sound; scratches could damage the track. Every digital track has to pass through its own kind of sound reader. The reader has to be in perfect alignment…

    Theaters were supposed to switch over to digital satellite years ago. Guess they never got over their fears of signal piracy or something.

  73. @hallam:

    Wow. Thanks a lot dude.

  74. ngallion says:

    What? This many posts and still no snarky comments about the spelling of “Indian Jones”?

  75. sleepydumbdude says:

    When I seen Iron Man the theater shut it off when the screen went to black. I knew there was more footage after the credits and the theater refused to give me anything for it at first and told me there wasn’t anything after the credits. I got on my blackberry and went to a message forum where everyone was talking about the thing after the credits and showed it to the manager and was like “oh so are all these people lying?” He then gave me a free ticket and a coupon for free small popcorn and soda. Still wasted 20-30 minutes of my time arguing with the guy about it.

  76. I had a similar situation at the Carmike in Savannah, except the opposite, no picture only sound. they did rewind it after they replaced the dead bulb…which they are supposed to do before the thing goes out…

  77. tech1935 says:

    I’m surprised to see how many projection people we have in here. Just another one chiming in.

    If the power dropped for a second the Cinema sound processor likely dropped out or perhaps it was in DTS and lost the time code sync. If someone up there had been properly trained in the booth there they would have power cycled the Sound Processor.

    Someone as well should have immediately killed the projector as well until sound could be fixed. But this is why I only work 19 hours a week at a 20 year old ghetto plex theater. Its the only one in my area that is’nt operated by some big micro-managed no fun chain. But there is still the fact that due to companies not caring for the romance and art of projection film is looked down upon for reason just like this.

    Film can be done right, and its not really that hard. These companies just don’t care anymore.

  78. redkamel says:

    he should be thanking his lucky starts since the ending he made up in his head was probably 35 times better that the real one.

  79. gabi says:

    @wgrune:@redkamel: I was going to say the same thing, especially about the last five minutes.

    Also chiming in about how film projectors can’t be re-wound. Also, this person went in another theater anyway (isn’t that technically against the law?), and also got free passes. Why are they bitching about it like nothing was done? Sheesh.

  80. zanhecht says:

    >I know of systems that let you show the same print in
    >different theaters simultaneously, that is with 100′ or so
    > delay between each. Thats just over a minute. Creating a
    >delay of 30 minutes or so would be pretty tricky. I guess
    >you might be able to do that with a cakestand system but
    >its not a trick I would want to rely on with the one I
    >used to use.
    >The problem is that the platter can only move at one
    >speed. Either you control the speed of the platter so that
    > the film payout is synchronized on the inside of the loop
    > (the dancer) or you have to synchronize to the film
    >takeup on the outside. The two speeds are different
    >because the film moves at a constant rate per second and
    >the interior and exterior circumferences of the film
    >platter are different.

    I’ve seen a multiplex delay system in action that could do up to a 40 minute delay. It worked by feeding the film from the first projector to the inside of one platter, pulling the film from the outside of that platter directly to the outside of a second platter, and then feeding the film from the inside of the second platter to the second projector. This way the difference in speed between the inside and outside of the platters was canceled out.

  81. legwork says:

    Are the airbrush artists on strike or something? Harrison is looking downright embalmed.

    Indiannna wantz braaainnnzzz!

  82. amightywind says:


    when i went to see ‘gangs of new york’ the film stopped and melted with 15 minutes to go. still have never gotten about to seeing the end of it… got free passes and popcorn though, woo!

  83. Rctdaemon says:

    Even though I know it has already been said about fifteen times, does OP actually expect a projectionist to be able to “rewind” a film? Obviously, he doesn’t know how projecting works. Now, the audio, on the other hand, IS downright unacceptable. If a projectionist where I work did that and the owners heard about it (Small town, about 50000 people, owners are local, theaters are independant), that person would NEVER forget that, if they even had a job afterwards.

    Now, to all of the people that complain about how bad movies in theaters are: we still use film on all except for one of our screens in this town and we are damn proud of it! Any time there is a movie going, there is at least one projectionist that is working and all of the projectionist (and owners) know what to look for in a print to see if something happened to it. The owners are huge movie buffs and are seen very regularly; if something big goes wrong, they will find out about it and whoever did whatever went wrong will never forget it.

    About what happened, there should have been at least rainchecks offered so that people could go and see the movie again, just for the ending. Our copy of Iron Man burned up and the manager/projectionist (yes, the managers have to know how to run/focus/fix projectors around here) on duty, after splicing it, stood and gave every single person that went to that showing of Iron Man a raincheck to see it again for free, even though they saw the whole movie.

    Sorry if this is a little long-winded.

    Greetings from Casper, WY.

  84. trillium says:

    Write to the theater directly. This happened to me during the last 20 min. of the Emperor’s New Groove (yes it’s been a few years). Regal ended up sender free passes and coupons for freebie popcorns and soda.

  85. jonworld says:

    Showcase Cinemas in Woburn,

    I’ve seen many, many movies there in my life and I must admit they have TERRIBLE staff who don’t give a crap about their customers. I still go there due to lack of a better alternative mega-cinema.

  86. ShockTerminal says:

    Speaking as a projectionist it is not easy to rewind.
    Rewinding a film is like trying to put toilet paper back on the inside of a roll.

    It can be done but it is time consuming and it probably would work out better the way they handled it by just going to another showtime (and then passes).

  87. mzs says:

    @crabbyman6: Wow I had a problem with Lord of the Rings as well. They just plain stopped the movie right at the end credits. They did this because they we herding in showings for this movie. I was really sad about it because I am a big fan of movie scores and the music was fantastic. In fact it won the Oscar for best score that year.

    After I left I asked for the manager. When he finally arrived I asked if my wife and I could go see the end in the theater that started 30 minutes later. He went away for a while and came back saying that they were going to stop the movie in the same spot. I asked for tickets so that I could see it later when the rush was over he said okay and then never showed-up again and we left.

  88. mzs says:

    PS: I forgot to add that the theater had no problem showing 15-20 minutes of trailers and ads before the movie.

  89. Runik says:

    Something similar happened to me When I went to see Spider-Man 3 midnight showing

    About halfway though the film the movie flipped upside down and played in reverse . To be honest after seeing it correctly , I will say that the upside down reverse version was much better than what I saw at a later date .

    Oh yeah after the movie was over we all got free a free ticket and free consessions gift certificates .

  90. Savage says:

    “Paramount has intentionally silenced bits of the soundtrack of ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ in order to deter and track piracy.”

    Story: []

  91. Jbball says:

    I was a projectionist for 4 years, and I can say that it’s not really an easy process of “rewinding” the movie. It CAN be done, but it is a lengthy process and the staff shouldn’t have offered to do it. Basically, you have to cut the film to where you think it messed up, and spin it back inside the part of the film that hasn’t run its course yet. It’s only advisable at the beginning of a movie (and I mean like, maybe 12 seconds into it).

    What happened was that the idiot projectionist that built your print put that reel on backwards, which will play upside-down, when he built the print. Its proof of ULTRA sloopy skills and you shouldn’t go to that theatre ever again.