Christopher Campbell's The Moviegoer - Bigger Knight Better Than Oscar Night
by Christopher Campbell
January 26, 2009
The Academy had their say, that The Dark Knight isn't one of the five "Best Picture" candidates for 2008. But who cares? Sure, you can't enjoy the Batman sequel as part of AMC's annual marathon of top Oscar contenders, but then again you can't see any of those five films in IMAX either. What would you prefer? Personally, I haven't decided if I like any of the Best Picture nominees any better than The Dark Knight. But I do personally prefer to see a movie as big as possible, as long as that movie is appropriate for such viewing. And not only is The Dark Knight appropriate for the size, but it was partially filmed for it. So, rather than see any of those other movies a second time, I chose to see The Dark Knight again, in IMAX.
One of the factors of my choice, however, is that I never had the chance to see the movie in IMAX the first time around. I had to settle for a regular-size multiplex screen, mostly because only one IMAX theater for all the 8 million people in New York City meant it was hard getting a ticket for awhile. Fortunately, Warner Brothers re-released The Dark Knight this past Friday, and fortunately, my city has gotten two more IMAX locations since the movie opened the first time. And yes, I know both screens, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, were unveiled while the movie was still in theaters, but by that time I had already seen The Dark Knight once and wasn't immediately interested in seeing it again. The obvious verdict, which nobody should refute, is that much, much bigger is much, much better.
But did I see The Dark Knight as big as possible? Curious about when the new Manhattan IMAX screen opened, I visited Cinema Treasures, a great website devoted to discussing and reviewing the world's movie theaters, and in the comments section for the AMC Empire 25 page, I read that its new screen is smaller than the older IMAX screen at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13. I needed to know for sure that this is true, but neither Cinema Treasures nor AMC's website appeared to have actual screen dimensions available. The one thing I could determine online, though, is that the Lincoln Square theater actually charges more for their IMAX tickets. So, I called that theater to find out why, and of course it was revealed to me that their IMAX screen is bigger. Man, was I disappointed.
Here I was, intending to write about how the Academy's snub is worthless since most voters likely watched a screener DVD or, at best, a normal-sized theatrical print of The Dark Knight, and yet even I failed to see the film in the greatest proportions. So maybe I'm not the one to defend its optimum size and format as being such. I may have gone from merely liking The Dark Knight in regular size to loving it in a minimal IMAX size, but maybe if I'd seen it at Lincoln Square or, better yet, on a 12,000 square-foot screen in Mumbai, The Dark Knight would have become my favorite film of all time (okay, that's doubtful, but I'm being hypothetical for a point). And maybe if the Academy voters had also seen it so big, we'd have seen a different crop of Best Picture nominees.
However, my other intent with this week's column was to simply shrug off the Oscars, because the main thing that I realized with my second viewing of The Dark Knight is that Oscar nominee or not (even if the film hadn't received its 8 nominations), the movie still makes for a damn good moviegoing experience, and fortunately the Academy can't take that away from us. It's not like the Best Picture selections determine what we are able to see in a theater. It's not like the foreign category, which is often made up of films that would never acquire US distribution without the Academy's recognition. So it doesn't matter if the Academy deems The Dark Knight one of the best, nor does it matter if you consider it the best or at least better than those five other films. It shouldn't affect whether or not you enjoyed it. Just as not seeing the movie in its greatest capacity doesn't lessen the fact that I had a great moviegoing experience anyway.