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Screens & Tech

Does a rash of theater closings in Tokyo spell doom for American cinema?

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But now ticket and concession prices are higher than they've ever been, and the blight of cell phones and talkers, dim screens, and, sadly, the new scourge of violence gives me pause … and bouts of nostalgia. I think of the theater where I went on my first date (for the landmark comedy gem City Slickers II – no wonder it didn't go anywhere). It still exists, though it's now a cookie-cutter Regal chain.

Sitting at home with Netflix or video on demand is convenient, but builds no memories and comes at the cost of atmosphere. On the other hand, most theaters lack anything close to atmosphere now, anyway. Thanks to digital movie cameras and, later, digital projection, there are no more scratches or cue dots, or the charm of reel changes. It's the whir I miss most of all, though; the sound of the print riding through the roller coaster of the projector, claw pulling down on sprockets, unspooling a new world to get lost in. But Netflix comes with a pause button, and that's a dangerous thing.

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