Last updated July 16, 2001
|Metreon's Action Theater Premiere
July seems to be the month for special events! The No-Name staff was invited to a screening of the Gundam Wing - Endless Waltz movie at the Metreon (Sony's entertainment complex in San Francisco) on July 13th. This was the celebration for the opening of their Action Theater, where they will showcase anime and action films. Bandai Entertainment and Animax (Sony's anime TV channel in Japan) are partnered with the Metreon for this theater.
If you live in the SF Bay Area, you may want to visit the Metreon this coming weekend. There will be free screenings of Endless Waltz on the 14th and 15th, and there will be a Gundam Universe event from the 20th to 22nd. Sony, Bandai and the Metreon staff are obviously trying something different here, first with a big premiere event, and second, by inviting various anime groups to attend. If you want to see more anime on the big screen, try to stop by and show your support!
We have reports of the event from our staff below, interspersed with photos we took when we were there.
Action Theatre does not have a webpage yet, though they are working on it. We'll provide the link to it as soon as we get it.
Members of Bay Area anime clubs and companies were invited to a preview of a new venue for anime in the US. The Sony Metreon Action Theater, on the 2nd floor of the Metreon Center in San Francisco, may be the first permanent venue for anime, and promises to be a place that both new and old fans can enjoy. With its own attached store filled with anime DVDs, mangas, soundtracks and other wallet-tempting items, this theater may be the best sign yet that anime fandom has hit the mainstream.
The theater boasts a unique three screen projection display to let all viewers see what is being played no matter where they sit, though it does take some getting used to, and it can only show video tape or DVD right now. The sound was clear and crisp with no major distortion. Also the clip of Blue Submarine No. 6 highlighted some of the special effects that the room can do, like benches that vibrate and water misters that spray with the action on the screen. This equipment is a leftover from a program called "The Way Things Work", in fact, the entire area was only converted to the current configuration in the last month.
The showing itself was a bit disappointing. Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz was never one of my favorites, and they showed the dub which made the audience both laugh and groan at the movie. We later learned that they had planned to show the subbed version, but had accidentally shown the wrong version and they had also felt the same way about the dub.
Afterwards, attendees filled out questionnaires and gave feedback to staffers at a little get together (love those brownies). During this time we learned that they are trying real hard to find out what kind of programming would be suitable for their new venue. They even sent some of their staff to Anime Expo and ask questions of the fans and companies about the wide range of shows that could and could not be shown on their screen. They got a lot of feedback and even AD Vision and VIZ are interested in this endeavor. They also appear willing to have events co-sponsored with local fan groups and companies, which may lead to some big time special events. Also for the next two weeks they will be having free showings to gather more feedback, so if you want some say in their programming, I would recommend you go.
As they begin shaping themselves toward their grand opening in October, we can only hope that they learn from all of the feedback they receive and that they will grow into a strong venue for anime. A lot of us want them to succeed and with some luck and careful guidance they should be a welcome addition to the Bay Area fandom. Hope to be with them in October and would like to thank them for allowing us to help them grow.
We arrived at the Metreon shortly before the event to check things out. The Action Theater area is next to a new anime store at the Metreon. Lots of different anime was displayed, grouped by series and company. The Trigun section had DVDs, and Vash and Wolfwood Action figures. The Eva section had DVDs and Eva figures. There was a whole Tokyopop Manga section, and a large Viz section with Girl Type and Boy Type Ranma T-shirts displayed promoinently. Lots of DVDs were displayed, including the sub only Cardcaptor Sakura release, plus plenty of figures, shirts, and domestic CD sound tracks.
Four TVs were spread out in the area. One had martial arts films playing (they sell DVDs of that too), Ranma on another, Eva on a 3rd, and the 4th was showing the AX anime program from Japan that goes over new anime and has interviews with crew members. An anime called Princess Arete was being interviewed, and the sound technicians of the Cowboy Bebop Movie. Very cool, though not subbed. Signs were displayed around the store, showing the defintions and pronunciations of different words like anime, otaku, shoujo, mecha, and terebi. A large Sanrio store is next to the anime, and lots of Japanese snacks are sold too.
At 7:00 we were invited into the main theater. The first thing we noticed was the 3 large screens in the room, in a HUD like display. 9 rows of seats, that look like plastic benches were there. I was surprised at that, but learned the reason for them soon enough. A lot of different Bay Area clubs were present, plus a large group of people from Viz. An announcer came came up and told us that they want the Metreon to become a center for showcasing anime, and they hope to partner with a lot of different companies. Viz will probably be getting some Ranma shown, and ADV was mentioned as a possible suitor.
The lights went down, and we were given a demo of the theater's capabilities. Blue Submarine No.6 DVD was started. All 3 screens showed the exact same image, and they had the Japanese audio going with English subtitles. The sound system, was quite impressive especially when we learned why we had the bench. They RUMBLE with the subwoofer. Also, after some water scenes in Blue Sub, we got sprayed by water from sprinklers set up in the ceiling! They have a really nice setup going on here. In addition to DVD, they also have Beta SP. No 35mm film, but that's OK. We were then shown the movie version of Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz DVD, English dubbed. Afterwards they apologized since they thought made a mistake. They had meant to show us the sub.
Afterwards, we gave feedback on the theater, and smoozed a bit. The Action Theater is very much in its infancy. July 13 was the first day the anime store was open, as the paint dried only 2 days before. They expect a grander, bigger opening in October. The selection of anime they show will be very selective, so nothing extremely risque, for example. From time to time, we may get previews of the current showings in Japan, and character based special events. The staff running the theater are very enthused about this project. We gave a lot of feedback on how they could grow this project.
The members of No-Name club, would like to thank the Action Theater staff for inviting us to this preview. We're very excited by this project, and wish them the best of success. The brownies were especially wonderful.
Sandra Young: (with a slightly non-anime viewpoint)
The Sony Metreon held its launch for its new Action Theatre on Friday, 13 July. They invited a small test audience to a screening of Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, and held a small dessert reception afterwards where they mingled with audience members and chatted them up. (Two thumbs up for the brownies!)
The main focus of Action Theatre will be anime, both subbed and dubbed. Their partnership at the moment is with Bandai and Animax, but they are actively researching other companies to partner with in the future. In order to keep a steady schedule running, they will also periodically show non-anime action titles.
The theatre itself is small, not a regular movie theatre. Instead of theatre seats, it had butt-numbing plastic benches. (Bring a cushion!) And instead of a regular screen, it featured three square screens side by side. I found this slightly distracting, not to mention the fact that I assume everything they show on them will be "formatted to fit your TV." This may turn out to be a problem for some of us die-hard widescreen fans. Later I found out that the room had originally housed another exhibit called "The Way Things Work" and they were simply using the room with the setup it already had. They have no 35mm capacity, but are able to show basically any other format.
Before the movie, they showed a preview of Blue Submarine No. 6. That's when we discovered the benches were outfitted to "rumble", which they timed pretty well with the movie. (Woke my butt up, at least.) I sat there thinking, oh that's pretty cool, when (again, timed with the show) a fine mist showered down on us from the ceiling. A very pleasant surprise. I can certainly see where they can use these to good effect. Although we didn't get to see it, I was told that the theatre is also equipped with lightning effects. If you've ever been to the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" attraction in Disneyland, you'll know what I'm talking about, minus the 3-D.
I really can't say much about the movie, since I know nothing at all about Gundam and all I remember now is that the armed forces in it wore uniforms that consisted of jodhpurs and fezzes which made them look like equestrian bellhops. Afterwards we were asked to fill out short surveys. I thought the staff was extremely friendly and enthusiastic, and they seemed very eager to get our input. Most were not anime fans, but they were working very hard to learn all they could. Some of them attended Anime Expo to try to get a feel for what fans like and what the anime culture is all about. They all admitted they are still in the learning process and that it will probably take a while for them to develop their programming and events. I do think they absorbed a lot of the audience's comments and suggestions, so it remains to be seen what happens over the next few months. I must say, I think this is a great idea and it should be extremely successful. The Bay Area is ripe for something like this, and the Metreon being such a unique place is a perfect location for it.
Admission from July 14 to 22 will be free. Here is the current schedule of events, as far as is known:
Mobile Suit Gundam - episode one
Mobile Suit Gundam 08th MS Team - episode one
Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 - episodes 1-6
Mobile Suit Gundam 0043 - episode one
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