I had a really bad experience at a movie on Saturday. My husband and I went to see “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug” at the local movie theater. I generally don’t like watching movies in 3D, and didn’t want to see this film in 3D, so when we looked at the online listing we looked for one that was “normal”. Thought it was at the local theater. Looked at the “Now Showing” board at the theater, and it did not say anything about 3D. Asked to verify that when we bought our tickets, and were assured that it was in 2D. But then when we went to the ticket taker, she handed us 3D glasses. Huh? Okay, I thought, I’ll just go with it. I’ve seen other RealD movies and survived. How bad could it be?
The answer was, pretty bad. The film itself is really, really good, and I really, really liked it. But the headache I had from watching it, and the way my eyes were bothering me, was not so good. In fact, the experience was so bad, my husband suggested it was better to watch the film with one eye closed. I chose to just take the glasses off. The rest of the film was out of focus, but it was better than watching it with the glasses on.
Has anyone else had this problem? When I still had the glasses on, only one thing would be in focus at a time. I don’t remember other 3D films having so much background so severely out of focus. It made me look around the screen more, hoping to see things more clearly, but it didn’t work.
My husband, who typically does not have problems with 3D films, said it was pretty bad, too. We don’t think it’s the fault of the movie makers, we think it’s the fault of the theater. We’re hoping to go see it again at another theater (and this time MAKE VERY VERY SURE it is not 3D), just so we can enjoy the film without interference.
But I’m wondering, how much responsibility should movie theaters have to warn people who might be sensitive to the effects of 3D movies? I know I’m not alone in having problems with this kind of film. I know certain kinds of films will really bother me and cause a physical reaction (for example, the shaky cam in “Cloverfield” was so painful I watched 2/3 of the film by focusing BELOW the screen, rather than watching the movie on the screen, and I still had a headache afterward). Which is why I was asking about the film before buying my ticket. Not all 3D bothers me, though; as my husband pointed out, we watched “The Avengers” in RealD 3D and I had no problems (although that was at a different theater). That’s why I went ahead and watched the movie Saturday night, rather than turning around and asking for a refund.
I did not ask for a refund, as I stayed for the entire film, but I did want to register a complaint with the manager of the theater because there was no warning the movie was in 3D. I asked to speak with someone, and the assistant manager came out. He claimed that he had no control over the board that displayed the films showing there, so he couldn’t make sure it said the film was in 3D. Really? They can’t control their own “Now Showing” board at all? I find that hard to believe. He denied that his staff would have told us the film was in 2D when we asked. He more or less told me I should have known the movie would be in 3D, even when there was nothing saying it was. When he was denying there was any problem, I started getting really angry with him. I know customer service: I work at a public library after all, and I’ve dealt with plenty of upset patrons over the years. And the one thing you don’t do is accuse the customer of being completely wrong about the problem. Poor husband walked out at that point to see me arguing with the assistant manager. He backed me up, but the assistant manager still wouldn’t admit they did anything wrong.
I won’t return to that theater any time soon. They don’t seem to care much about the audience experience, and don’t seem to care that some people might be sensitive to how they show the films. But I have to wonder: how much responsibility does a theater have to warn people that film is in 3D?