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W for Windows

22 Mar, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

Warner Bros.' bright, bold, visually stunning, mentally provocative and intensely emotional V for Vendetta is about the best example I can think of to support the idea that this industry will always need a theatrical window.

I saw this movie during opening weekend on the behemoth, gargantuan screen of the Arclight's Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. I don't see how this experience, both from a sound and visual level, could ever be replicated in a home theater environment. I don't see how filmmakers like the Wachowski brothers would even be interested in making a movie like this if there were no theatrical exhibition venue for it.

It's funny, the best parts about Vendetta, to me, are the parts that set you thinking — the questions the movie raises about society, and fear, and humanity. The moments that struck me the most deeply were the quiet ones that reminded me that human beings ought really to be better caretakers of one another than we actually are.

Of course, these quiet, deep thoughts and the images that inspired them will translate to and resonate quite well on the home theater screen. But they are part and parcel of a much larger, much more visceral package. (I actually had to physically catch my breath in the final moments of the film.)

I seriously doubt that I would have had the intensity of the emotional reaction that I experienced while watching the small, deep moments of this film if it they weren't also coupled with the sweeping visual elements. Those kinds of images created my visceral connection to the film, — which only fueled my intellectual connection — and they are delivered so uniquely and so wholly via the theater screen.

None of this is to say that I won't enjoy this film over and over again on DVD — in fact, I'm sure it will become a treasured part of my collection. In fact, I think it will be one of those films that gets people even more interested in hi-def discs.

But that feeling, that visceral connection, could not have been created for, could not have come to into being only on the small screen. That feeling can follow through, though, to the small screen, I think, and it will. But I will always have that sense memory of the first time I saw this film in that massive theater, with that massive sound. It's one of the first comments I made to my date about the movie as the credits rolled: “I'm glad we saw that here. It was hard to leave that theater, almost. I didn't want to break the spell.

Why not keep that awe, that connection … keep that going through a theatrical window as long as possible? We already know the biggest box office hits are going to be the biggest DVD hits too. Why should we ever steal the opportunity for audiences to enjoy that greater, grander connection, especially for films like this? More importantly, why would we ever risk that filmmakers would evolve away from creating movies that fit that bill so perfectly?

I wasn't alone in that gigantic theater … and apparently I wasn't alone in thinking that is the best way to experience a movie like Vendetta.

According to story in the LA Times, plenty of V for Vendetta enthusiasts took in the anarchistic adventure at IMAX theaters. IMAX theaters accounted for $1.5 million of the opening weekend totals for the film, about $27,000 per location, according to the article. And the demographic of IMAX viewer skewed toward the “15- to 30-year-old male crowd that has been missing from theaters,” Greg Foster, chairman of IMAX Entertainment, told the Times.

In the same article, producer Joel Silver said it was predominantly males who hit the theater for Vendetta's opening weekend. Still, I think there is plenty here for females, for young or young-at-heart, for open-minded, for partisan-weary people in general.

Vendetta may not serve as a cautionary tale for many viewers. It may actually offend many conservatives (I get a real kick out of imagining George W. Bush watching this movie), but it certainly showcases what Hollywood can do when it comes from someone who really puts their mind and heart to it.

Why not maximize that in every possible format?

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