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We arrived 45 minutes early to beat the rush that never was. While last night's 8:30 pm screening had a decent turnout, it seems that many moviegoers have been frightened away from The Dark Knight Rises fearing a repeat of what happened in Auditorium 9 at Aurora, Colorado's Century Theatre.

With no snaking line to stand in, I took the liberty of wandering the multiplex. It's moments like this that allow me to do my best work.

Both the Grossmont #1 and #10 house the biggest (60-feet across) non-IMAX screens in the country. When a blockbuster opens, it is not uncommon for it to play in both of their huge auditoriums.

Prior to last night's screening, I had no reason to believe there was a difference between the two screens until closer inspection proved me wrong. The illumination on screen 1 was slightly brighter than what played on screen 10. Why? The booth is slightly closer to the screen!

Why is it important to choose your auditoriums wisely? The advance showing I attended of TDKR hit the screen out of focus, in the wrong aspect ratio (a foot was being chopped off of either side of the image), and with sound so deafening as to render much of the dialog unintelligible. This is Warner Bros. big tent-pole film of the summer, and while the focus and sound problems could have easily been corrected, nothing short of pulling out a saw and a bolt of heavy white vinyl screen fabric could have fixed the ratio problem.

I left after 7 minutes, deciding it was safer to take my chances at a multiplex on opening weekend. I'm glad I did. Fans of the franchise know that director Christopher Nolan does not want his film screened digitally. Nolan went so far as going back and retrofitting several IMAX houses across the country with 70mm equipment to properly accommodate his production.

Not surprisingly, none of San Diego's IMAX screens made the cut. Last night's presentation at the Grossmont was nothing short of perfection. If you have any intention of watching TDKR on a big screen, I suggest that you rise to the occasion and see it in the best possible surroundings San Diego has to offer: the Grossmont #1.

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