Curtains

Few movie theaters have curtains these days, and the ones that do don’t know how to use them.

Curtains give a theater a certain flare, as if someone was actually putting on a show. Once upon a time, every movie theater that wasn’t a grindhouse or a drive-in once hid its screen behind one. Today’s multiplexes generally don’t bother with curtains, but many of the theaters I attend regularly have them, including the Castro, Cerrito, Shattuck (for some of its screens), and the Grand Lake.

But it seems that the people who run these theaters have forgotten how a movie curtain is supposed to work. Their standard operating procedure is to lower the house lights, open the curtain, then start the movie. This gives us a second or two to contemplate the blank screen. But the whole point of a curtain is that audience never has to look at the blank screen.

Here’s how a curtain should work: You lower the lights, start the movie, then open the curtain as the studio logo unspools. Now that’s a dramatic way to start a movie.

I don’t know why even the theaters that have curtains don’t do that anymore. Perhaps the studios insist that no curtain distract from their new, “improved,” computer-animated logos–they’ve done stupider things. Or maybe curtains are so rare these days that no one knows how to use them.

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