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Report of the Iranian Motion Picture Delegation at the LA-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - Day 5


The fifth day of the Iranian filmmakers’ visit to Los Angeles was spent at the ArcLight Hollywood Multiplex, the film archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Dolby Audio and Visual Laboratories. The last slot on the program was set aside for a choice between the movie “Paranormal Activities” and the play “Medea”.
First on the October 13th program for the Iranian delegation was a visit to the ArcLight Hollywood Multiplex. Seven of the 15 screens at this unique cinematic multiplex in LA display digital films and another 7 are used for 35 and 70mm prints. The screening rooms of this huge multiplex seat 250-400 people each, in addition to the massive Cinema Dome with 850 seats. According to the director of multiplex, the Cinema Dome has hosted an audience of 4.5 million only in the past year. The contract for the films to be screened at this multiplex is for an average 2-4 weeks, and the multiplex director can change the screening venue of the contracted films based on how well they do at the box office. The director further explained that the percentage of the sales income that goes to the multiplex is less than 50 percent of the box office sale during the first week of screening, and it gradually increases afterwards to urge the production studios and the distributors to keep on with promotion and advertisement. The multiplex houses several coffee shops, gift shops with books, magazines, art, clothing items, music, and other entertainment-oriented items, plus indoor and outdoor dining areas. ArcLight has a membership program in which frequent movie-goers can earn points towards free concession items, movie tickets, or discounts in the café or retail store.
The second part of today’s program was the visit to the Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Archive is located at the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, one of the three buildings of the Academy. The construction of the Academy museum is scheduled to start soon on the properties bought at the same location. Built in 1948, the building originally belonged to the ABC and then CBC television networks and was purchased by the Academy in 2000. The Academy started to acquire film material for the Archive in 1928 but the existing organized archive was established in 1990. At present, the Archive comprises over 150000 films and video assets, including more than 60000 individual titles. The newest addition to the Archive is the state of the art screening facility that holds 286 seats and 6 screening systems (providing presentation of 16, 35, and 70mm motion picture formats for both image and sound quality). The movie theater was named in honor of visual effects pioneer Linwood Dunn, who continued to work to the end of the 1970s.
According to the Director of the Academy Film Archive Michael Pogorzelski, the movie theater usually follows a monthly calendar for screening movies on the history of cinema, retrospective works of celebrated filmmakers and thematic films. He then offered introductions on other parts of the Archive dedicated to the cleaning, inspection, preservation and restoration of movies and movie-related materials. The archive also holds Thomas Edison’s first works in kinetoscope from 1900, and the first film made for cinema in 1912. The archive’s films are kept and preserved in three floors of concrete walls, at a temperature of 5°C and protected by an oxygen-depleting fire suppression system.
Next on the program was a visit to Dolby Audio Visual Laboratories. Senior Director of Production Services and one of the former Academy directors Mr. Douglas Greenfield joined the Iranian filmmakers for a conducted tour of the company, explaining that since 2002 Dolby Laboratories has started a new policy to stay on top of the game in a digital world, and has been an active player in 3D and digital image technologies since then. He predicted that the high quality of digital products and cost effective transportation of the digital copies to movie theaters will persuade the American, Korean and Japanese filmmaking studios to digitalize their productions within the next 10 years. Afterwards, Mr. Greenfield showed the Iranian visitors to a movie theater in the same building in which they watched 4 interludes in the latest 3D technologies. In answer to the question posed by one of the Iranian filmmakers who wanted to know why this technology has not been presented to the Iranian cinema, Mr. Greenfield attributed this issue to political complications and expressed his hope that politics will soon be taken out of equation when it comes to art so that all artists can use the latest human achievements in their works.
The day ended for the visiting filmmakers with a choice between watching a very low budget film (11000 USD) titled “Paranormal Activity” which currently holds the 4th place on the US box office, or a play titled “Medea” starring Annette Bening, one of the Academy board members who visited Iran last winter.   




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