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American movie theaters woefully unequipped to screen Gemini Man the way Ang Lee intended

Screenshot: Skydance Media (YouTube)

It’s almost like a punchline to one of those very lengthy joke setups: Ambitious filmmaker spends millions of dollars and countless man hours making a blockbuster action flick that utilizes advanced digital technology, resulting in a film with very specific standards for proper theatrical viewing—only to discover that not a single movie theater in America is equipped to meet those standards. The filmmaker is Ang Lee, the movie is Gemini Man (the one with the two Will Smiths), and the intended screening experience is 120 frames-per-second high frame rate 3D in 4K. According to this enlightening piece from Polygon, there are no American theaters equipped to meet these standards. The real kicker is that only a handful of theaters are capable of screening the film in the next-best format: 120 frames-per-second high frame rate 3D in 2K. Alternately, some theaters will show the film in 4K, but without the 3D or high frame rate. The Aristocrats!

Not to victim-blame or anything, but if you were Ang Lee, and you were making this insanely ambitious movie with a very specific set of parameters for projection, wouldn’t you maybe ensure that theaters in one of the biggest markets in the world were equipped to screen your movie this way? You think James Cameron is out here making 12 more Avatars in whatever silly high frame rate nonsense without making sure theaters will be able to handle that digital load? (Actually, someone might need to check on that.)

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It is kind of hilarious, in that Todd Solondz way. But it’s also hard to feel sorry for Ang Lee, who is probably taking a Charlie Brown walk-of-shame home to his exceedingly nice home, where he’ll Scrooge McDuck into a pile of gold doubloons, safe and sound. American audiences are not able to see his film the way he intended, but at least cinephiles are concerned with important issues, like what Martin Scorsese thinks about Marvel movies.

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