Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas at the movies.

Way back when I wondered why some movies open on Christmas Day. I figured no one would be going since everyone was doing Christmas stuff. I have since found out Christmas day is one of the singlest busiest days of the years at movie theatres. I figure it's a combination of the following.

-The movies that open Christmas Day. I'd be curious to find out how this trend got started. It wasn't all that long ago movie theatres couldn't be open on Sundays.
-People who don't celebrate Christmas go to the movies because there isn't anything much else to do.
-People who don't have anyone to celebrate Christmas with for whatever reason go for the escapism if they feel lonely.
- Family members who get together for the holidays go to the movies. I figure sometimes it's because people feel they have to get together because it's Christmas but don't really want to spend time together, so they go to a movie.

Anyone have other ideas to add?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Next Week's nonexistent movie.

Western Film will be closed for the holidays starting Dec 22 until Jan 7th. There's a few reasons we close over the holidays-

-Few students around hence less business
-My staff are all students hence less staff. The ones that are here would have to work pretty much every night.
-This is one of the peak times of the year for moviegoing so anything remotely good the first run theatres keep. The only new movie I could have played next week was Unaccompanied Minors.
-The University is closed for some days so I wouldn't be able to open anyway.

Next week is the start of a two week playweek because of the holidays. Everything that opens on Friday and Christmas day will be the only movies playing for two weeks.

I did book a couple movies for after the holidays.
Stranger Than Fiction will be playing both shows Jan8th (the Monday when classes resume) until Thursday Jan 11.
Borat will play both shows starting Jan 11. Fox wouldn't let us split it. For this movie I don't have a problem with that as I expect it to do well. There is however the possibility that everyone who wants to see it has already seen it. Although my sense is it will do really well and I'm almost always right about these things.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Midnight Shows/ Anyone want 1/2 of 40 feet of Top Gun?

On Fridays during the school year Western Film runs a midnight classics series. Mostly comedies that have a cult following and are fun to watch with a group (Zoolander, Monty Python) and movies that are cool to see on the big screen again (Kill Bill, Top Gun).

I usually do the projection for these myself for a few reasons.
-Since these are older prints these shows are the ones we are most likely to have technical problems.
-I'm always up late so I don't mind working until 2 or three in the morning.
-I usually want to watch the movie, I was quite disappointed I had to cancel Kill Bill Vol 2 because of the snowstorm.

I've had a few interesting experiences doing the midnight shows.

We played Top Gun a couple weeks ago, about 30 minutes in the film suddenly started splitting down the middle. Half was still running through the projector, the other half was piling up on top of the film on the platter. I was sitting beside the projector so I shut off the light and sound and turned off the projector. The weird thing was half the film stayed threaded up instead of breaking as it normally would. I removed the part that had split off and slowly ran the film through until everything was ready to go again. Took me about 5 minutes. Seen in the pic is the half I removed, it's about 40 feet long. When we took the film apart to go back I had to cut out the other half so it would play fine for the next theatre. It will, however, be missing about 20 seconds at that point.

The only other time I had something as drastic happen was Army of Darkness. It did bascially the same thing but the film broke completely. That one only lost about 12 feet.

There have been some interesting prints come in.
Taxi Driver was the worst print I had ever seen. It was full of splices and there were entire sections of the film where the outer edge was missing. I almost cancelled the show, it was so bad I didn't think it would ever play through. I was truly shocked when it ran through without breaking. Too bad we only had 14 people, we won't be playing it again.

The Shining is one of the films we have had really good attendance for but I refuse to play it again. It's an original 1980 print. It's not too bad for splices but some kinds of film go 'pink' as they age. The blues go away leaving the film with a pinkish tone. The Shining is the worst I've seen for that. The entire movie is nothing but shades of pink and red.

Two of the most popular films for the Midnights have been Monty Python's Holy Grail and Life of Brian. A few years ago a Toronto company called Creative Exposure got the rights to both and made new prints. I tried to book them for this years midnight series but couldn't. Both owners of the company had recently died so it was for sale. Not knowing what would happen to the rights or prints as a result I couldn't book them. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sorry I've been bad.

I knew I was getting a little slack in the posts due to time constraints. I'm a pretty bad typist/speller/ grammatician so it takes me a while to create an interesting post. It took me a about 50 minutes to create the 4 I did just now.

My staff told me a couple people at the theatre asked about why the blog wasn't updated more often so that at least lets me know people are reading it.

I just got a new digital camera so I've been playing with it. I have a few ideas for interesting series of posts. The first one will be following the sound system through, so readers see how movie theatre quality sound is generated.

Anyway, please bear with me.

Anybody want a pink umbrella?

This is a pic of the Lost and Found at Western Film. We get all sorts of interesting items. Lots of umbrellas, I think there's about 10 in my office. In the winter we get lots of hats, scarves and gloves. Lots on pencil cases too. We have lots of pens and calculators now.

Very little of it is ever picked up. Every few months I go through and give the older items to Goodwill.

There are sometimes quite interesting things lost. We've found wallets, purses and bus passes quite often. I usually try to notify the owner that we have their item.

Sometimes I get surprised by what doesn't get picked up. A couple times I've found set of keys, you would think they would realize when they tried to get into their car or home they had left them behind.

their was one situation that could have gotten real interesting. A woman left her laptop behind but someone else must have snagged it. I vaguely remember two or three guys rapidly leaving through an exit door near where she was sitting. She came back three times looking for it and didn't seem to believe me that I hadn't seen it. She was quite freaking out, I think it had her thesis on it. She kept asking me about it but there wasn't anything I could do. I couldn't help but think that she should have remembered to take it with her rather than arguing with me. I half expected her to call the campus police on me.

Last Playweek for 2006.

Bobby/ Tenacious D is the last playweek for Western Film for 2006. We close for the holidays on Dec 22nd and reopen on Jan 8th.

Since we don't open until Monday we get a partial playweek which is fun to deal with. Since everything is closed up there I can't really advertise the way I normally would. What I've done the last couple years is book something we already did well with for the 4 days. Last year it was Wedding Crashers.

unfortunately there no obvious movie to do that with this year. We've had a bunch of movies do well but nothing as big as Wedding Crashers. The biggest movie this fall was Inconvenient Truth but we played the crap out of it and it's out on video.

What I'm planning to do is see if Fox will let me book Borat for the first 4 days and continuing into the next playweek. We'll see if they go for it.

Next Week's Movies.

There were a few choices for next week. None were must-plays which is kind of good. I didn't really want to play anything 'good' next week since most of the students will be either busy with exams or gone.

The choices were:

Flushed Away- not enough adult appeal, though it was fun.

The Nativity Story- This became available really quick, big bomb, so much for the supposed Christian movie market.

Turistas- horror

Van Wilder 2 - horrible movie

Bobby- I decided to play this for the early show. Didn't do great First Run but seems the kind of movie we often do well with. Has more adult appeal which will offset the lack of students.

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny- I decided to play this as the late show. I'm not a big Jack Black fan and this movie looked bad even for him but supposedly it has a cult following (just a small one). Normally I probably wouldn't have played this but it seemed like a good movie to play as a stress release for the students still writing exams, fairly short and presumably funny. I don't expect huge business but maybe Jack Black will surprise me.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Next Week's Movies.

Next week was one of those interesting weeks where I have some to choose from but no obvious ones I 'have' to play.

The only two new movies were:

The Fountain- I heard some people liked it but it bombed.
A Good Year- bombed spectacularly, in my opinion due to bad marketing. Also we couldn't split it so that wasn't even an option.

I decided to bring back the Departed. It did really well last week. Also it was the late show last week so moving it to the early show will appeal to some people who couldn't go to the late show.

The late show for the week was a dilemma, I could have brought is one of the movies I've been holding back on. I checked into some smaller art films like Little Children but no prints were available. Art films tend to work better as the early show anyway.

There was one art film that would make a good late show, Shortbus. Because of the explicit content I didn't want any one trying to bring kids. They couldn't get in anyway since it's rated R. It's sort of an experiment since it does have low awareness. It's an awesome movie. I've seen it twice already.

There's only one playweek left before we shut down for Christmas. It's traditionally a slow week since the students are either busy with exams or leaving. I may bring in a short funny movie like Employee of the month. They make good exam breaks plus I wouldn't want to 'waste' a good movie.

I was given a date when The Prestige is available but it's the day after we shut down so it will be playing right after Christmas.

Screwy Justice System, I'm glad I'm not American.

These items were all reported the same day on one of the studio news items I read.

A man was sentenced to 7 years in prison for camcording a movie in a theatre. Seems a bit extreme, it wasn't even a hit movie. it was The Core.

A man who bilked at least 70 investors out of millions of dollars for a non-existent TV show was given a sentence of one year and a day. The judge in this case deserves to have his money bilked by some other phony scheme so he knows what it feels like.

There was also a story about a man who had sold thousands of copies of pirated DVDs and also got about a year.

Does all this seem a little inequitable to you?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Western Film mini-reviews.

Here's my opinion on some of the movies I've seen recently.

Casino Royale- Extremely cool, Daniel Craig makes a great Bond, taking the character back to his darker, grittier roots. I really liked the fact that most of the action was done by Craig and real stuntmen not CGI. CGI special effects can look spectacular but seems soulless in a way. The movie slowed down some in the middle but not enough that I was looking at my watch. I suppose I might have found the middle more interesting if I knew how to play poker.

Happy Feet- Technically stunning but not as entertaining as I thought it would be. Robin Williams' characters were hilarious as usual but that was about it. Fairly heavy environmental tone for a kid's movie. I still find it weird the man who directed the Mad Max movies ended up making kid's movies. He also did Babe: Pig in the City.

Shortbus- I saw this movie at the Hyland last night. I'm not sure Western Film will play it as doesn't seem to have a lot of awareness. I thought it was an amazing film and I'm actually planning to go see it again. It just goes to show how things have changed. Not long ago this movie would have garnered huge controversy because it shows actual hardcore sex complete with moneyshots. However the sex was such an integral part of the film it didn't come off as exploitive or shocking. (well, maybe the first few minutes were a bit of a shock.)

Fast Food Nation- Interesting but nothing really happened, some good acting, definitely makes one want to be a vegetarian. I don't think Western Film will play this, it's not well known and it's from Fox Searchlight and they can be hard to deal with.

Flushed Away- I saw this because I wanted to see something entertaining and funny on that particular night. I mostly got what I wanted. It was funny and had lots of action. Like Happy Feet it's amazing the worlds they can create with computer graphics. It didn't have quite the dual level of appeal to both adults and children that a movie like Shrek has but it was entertaining.

Harsh Times - Even I had never heard of this film when it showed up at the Westmount cinemas a couple weeks ago. Christian Bale did a good job of playing a character slowly burning out his fuse. Ultimately it didn't seem to have a point though.

Current Movies.

The Queen is doing really well with both students and off-campus. I think we set a record for the number of seniors at the show on Friday. The Departed is doing really well too. Sunday is usually a quieter night but this Sunday was busier than most nights are.

Next week's Movies.

This was one of those nice weeks when I had multiple good films to choose from.

The ones available were
Saw 3 - I don't think so
Let's go to Prison- I even more don't think so.
Marie Antoinette -
The Guardian - I'm not sure about this one so I'm keeping it in reserve.
Little Miss Sunshine.

I chose Little Miss Sunshine for 7:00 and Marie Antoinette for 9:15. Little Miss Sunshine is the kind of move we do well with, a relatively small but good movie that has good word of mouth. It's been playing in various First Run theatres around London for at least a couple months which is longer than most big Hollywood films. Marie Antoinette has beautiful visuals so it should look great on our screen. It's primarily aimed at women and we often do quite well with 'chick flicks'.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My Fav James Bond Movie.

It's Sunday night and the wait to find out how the new James Bond movie does is almost over. Will it beat a bunch of dancing penguins to be #1? I'm going to see it later tonight and hope it's as good as I heard. My favorite Bond film is still Octopussy from 1983 though. It's later as the Roger Moore ones got silly but still creates a neat atmosphere. Some great stunts. It's also got my second favorite James Bond theme song sung by Rita Coollidge, ' All Time High'. The magazine cover is from one of the great movie magazines of the time.

Poster of the Week

I have to admit I'm a little biased on this one. It's the only poster I have framed and one of my favorites. Movie posters are bloody expensive to frame becuase they are so big. This is a poster from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom from 1984. This isn't the main poster it's a less common B poster. This poster is for sale at for $150 but seems to go for less on ebay. However one never knows about the originality of items on ebay. I have a couple extra copies, maybe I should sell them?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Badly designed Poster of the Week

Some may disagree with me but I think this poster for The Departed isn't well designed. It's hard to make out the faces of the stars and with the text split over multiple lines it's hard to read the title. I got two in a stack of posters and had to stop for a second and figure out what movie it was for. I suppose the intent might be to catch people's attention and make them think about it for a second. However, we get so much visual stimulation these days I think a better idea is to keep it simple so one glance can catch your attention.

Current movies.

I can't be too specific in this section for business reasons but I thought I'd give an update on how each movie has done.

Pirates 2 has done quite well, about what I expected. Lots of Popcorn sold.

Who Killed the Electric Car? has done surprisingly well for a 9:55 show. On Friday it did about 4 times what I expected. Tuesday it did more than Pirates.

Thursday has become the busy night of the week so we'll see what they do that night.

Next Week's Movies.

I had an unusual number of choices this week. There were 5 new movies available.

The Marine (Fox- so had to play both shows every night) - guess what my decision on that one was.

Employee of the Month. Was fairly funny but we don't do well with these kind of mid level comedies.

The three I was considering were:

Man of the Year
Flags of Our Fathers
Trailer Park Boys.

My boss asked me to check on Death Of a President and to my mild surprise it was available. I figured it would go through the art circuit before we could get it.

So I booked DOAP for the early show and Trailer Park Boys seemed a better choice for a late show plus it's Canadian and I try to support Canadian films when I can.

Depending on what is available next week I'm planning to play Flags of Our Fathers.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

An interesting Marketing problem.

There's a documentary coming out titled F@Ck or something to that effect. It's about the history, use and meaning of the F word. I wouldn't want to be the person assigned to market it, most newspapers will probably refuse to run ads, same for TV. I may face the same issues myself if Western Film ever plays it. I'm not sure when it comes out or if it will play in Canada yet.

Next Week's Movie

It was an interesting week for booking, see previous post. Who Killed the Electric Car? has been booked in for a few weeks and I had planned to play it at 7. However with the changes I was able to pick up Pirates 2. I decided to play it at 7 pm since we'll have people wanting to bring kids and more people will want to see it in general. Hopefully the people who want to see Electric Car are willing to see a late show. Pirates is so long Electric Car doesn't play until 9:55!

The only other new movie available was Man of The Year, I may play it next week depending on what is available. It didn't exactly storm the box office.

Friday is going to be interesting. There's no 7pm show because a conference is using the McKellar room for a play. I think they got bumped from somewhere else. So all the advertising says there's no 7pm show of Pirates on Friday. However, no matter how hard I advertise it we always get some people showing up for a cancelled show. And just to make things a little more confusing there is a late show of Electric Car on Friday. We've never tried to split a night like that before.

So anyway, if you want to see Pirates don't come Friday!

Some Movie Theatre News for London.

On Friday Nov 10th Rainbow downtown will switch to first run and the Huron Market place will switch to second run. Basically Rainbow will now play movies as soon as they come out but will be raising it's prices. Huron will lower it's prices, probably the same as Western Film's but will have to wait to get movies.

I'm curious to see what happens for Western Film. The most immediate effect is we can now play Disney product since we are no longer in the same zone as Rainbow. So I was able to book Pirates for next week and we'll be able to play The Prestige etc.

Huron is a bit of a distance away and I don't think a lot of students live in that area so attendance at Western Film may go up. We may also get some off-campus people who used to go to Rainbow but don't want to pay the higher prices.

I'm glad I don't work at Rainbow right now. They are going to have pissed off customers for a while.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

An interesting Cineplex Survey

I went to a movie at Cineplex the other day. With my ticket they gave me a contest entry to fill out a survey and win something. I don't remember what the prize was.
I filled the survey out partly to give some input and partly to see what they were asking.

Most of the questions were the usual, was the seating comfortable (no) was the picture okay (no-out of focus even after I told them), did you buy any food (no-too expensive)?

There was one that caught my attention. They asked what my reaction would be to movies that were always subtitled, even movies in English. I can see where they are going with this. The theatres have been under some pressure to figure out some way to offer a movie theatre equivalent of closed captioning for the hearing impaired.
Subtitling all the films would be the cheapest and most effective way to do this. Right now the only way to do it is a system called HV. One of the theatres at the Silver City has it. An LED sign across the back runs the captions in mirror image. Anyone using the system puts something like a mirror in their cupholder and reads the text off it. Besides being a bit awkward the system has two other downsides. It requires a CD-Rom to play the captions. If the CD doesn't arrive with the film the system doesn't work. The other item is cost, I've heard these systems are $20,000 each. Considering what some other theatre equipment costs this could be accurate.
I don't think captioning everything would bother me personally, I've seen a lot of subtitled movies. I don't even notice that I'm reading the movie any more. I do have 2 questions.

What happens in a dialogue heavy scene, would they have to simplify the text to compensate for slower readers. That could get really distracting.
Would the general public go for it? Quite often if I tell someone at Western Film the film is subtitled they won't go see it.
Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Movie Poster of the Week

Spotted this on a website selling movie posters. It's $25.00 US but I'm tempted, it's one of the funniest movies of all time. I suppose I have enough movie posters though. Note that it's been folded, up until the late 80's or so all posters were mailed folded. It is pretty rare to find an older poster not folded. To the point I've seen reprints made of older posters that included the fold lines. With the advent of backlit display cases the posters started being shipped rolled since they looked better.

BTW: Backlit cases are also why most original posters these days are double sided. If only single sided they tend to look washed out when backlit.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Some Technical Upgrades / repairs at Western Film.

Last week turned out to be an unexpectedly busy week. A company called K Service came down from Toronto to do an overhaul on our Popcorn machine. It had developed a bunch of little problems that could only be fixed by someone who knew the machine well enough to adjust everything properly. He showed me all sorts of little things to adjust and get the machine running great.

The same day I got as call from a company called CinemaTronix that services and installs movie theatres. I had ordered a new rectifier and they wanted to install it. It turned out between the schedule of the McKellar Room and the technician's schedule the best day to do the install was the next day.

A Rectifier converts the AV power from the grid into DC power that powers the Xenon lamp that illuminates the screen. We used to have a 3600 watt lamp. About a year ago we put in a special reflector that allowed us to drop to a 2000 watt lamp. This saves energy and the bulbs are cheaper (but still $800). Over time it became apparent that even turned all the way down the old 4000 watt rectifier was overpowering the new lamp. The first bulb didn't last as long as it should have and the picture was a little too bright.

So we put in a 2000 watt rectifier last week. The bulbs will last longer and the picture looks even better. It focuses better now and it doesn't strobe any longer. I had noticed it had a tendency to strobe in bright scenes with the old rectifier because the lamp was too bright. It's the kind of thing only a projectionist would consciously notice.

The Technician also checked over the machine, fixed a small misalignment in the sound head etc.

So it was a busy week but at least I shouldn't have to worry about any technical issues for a while, knock on wood.

I missed a week.

I didn't do my usual next week's movies post last week. It was a really weird week (see following post). School for Scoundrels was the only new movie available. To fill the other slot I inquired about Half Nelson and some of the other lower profile Art films but all were slated to play at either Rainbow's Art Series or the Hyland. So I put in Bon Cop Bad Good as a kind of experiment. I wasn't sure it had enough awareness to do much business. To my mild surprise it's doing better than Scoundrels (but still not great).

Next Week's Movies.

I was mildly surprised to find I was able to get good movies for next week. The pickings have been pretty slim lately. There has been so many bad movies coming out the first run theatres are holding onto the good ones forever. Some of the good ones playing now we may not get until after Christmas.

Jackass 2 was available, I didn't think we would get it quite this fast. It's a good time of the school year to play it, short and funny, good for a stress reliever.

The Illusionist is finishing up at The Hyland on Thursday so we are starting it Friday. It's a good movie, should do well here.

The only other new movie available was Gridiron Gang, which I would have played but only if I had no other choice. It's not the type of movie we usually do well with.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Independents owned by Studios, an oxymoron.

A while ago Western Film played a film which was distributed by a new company whose name I thought was ironic.

With media companies Independent is generally thought of as being separate from the big conglomerates, this applies to both movies and music.

A while ago when it became apparent Independent companies could make some real money producing and distributing smaller, usually art house type prestige pics. The big studios started buying up the small ones. One of the first was Disney buying Miramax which had a proven track record of releasing Oscar winning films. Warner brought up New Line which started with horror movies but eventually moved into more prestige pics.

So now pretty much any 'independent" company is owned by a Studio, Universal owns Focus which released Brokeback Mountain.

There's a couple that are still Independent as far as I know. Lion's Gate which started in Canada made Crash. The brothers who started Miramax left and started a company called The Weinstein Company.

There's several small companies in Canada that are still independent, Mongrel Media and Equinox. Alliance and Odeon distribute the majority of the arthouse and some of the Hollywood stuff in Canada.

The film reference at the beginning of the post was A Scanner Darkly. It was distributed by Warner Independent. Warner is the largest media company in the word with revenues of something like 40 billion a year. Talk about an oxymoron.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Next Week's Movies.

I had a few choices this week. It wasn't too hard a choice though.

There's a couple leftover from last week.
Black Dahlia

New ones were
World Trade Center
All the King's men
Bon Cop Bad Cop

I decided to go with All the King's Men as the early show and Black Dahlia as the late show. I think All the King's Men has broader appeal and since Dahlia has a darker subject matter it makes an obvious choice for the late show.

I may pick them up later but these are the reasons I didn't chose the others.
World Trade center- more of interest to Americans than Canadians, didn't do great box office.
Covenant- fun but bad movie, target market is younger than the crowd we get.
Bon Cop Bad Cop- A Canadian movie, was fun, low awareness though. I got the "never heard of it " line a lot when I mentioned it. Did huge business in Quebec though.

I did get news last week that all the prints of Who Killed the Electric Car are booked right up til Nov 14th. I think there's only 5 prints in Canada. We'll probably still play it.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Trailer Park Boys is #1, yay Canada.

Last weekend was one of the fairly rare weekends when the Canadian Boxoffice didn't mirror the US one. The #1 movie in the US was the Departed but in Canada it was Trailer Park Boys. It's great that Canadians chose to patronize a Canadian movie. It did about 1.3 million on 200 screens, a pretty good number. I doubt the budget was very high so it may already be considered a hit.

Trivia: Ever wonder why Canada isn't mentioned when newspapers etc, say how movies did in various foreign countries? Canada's box office is dumped in with the US numbers. Every night Western Film faxes it's numbers to a couple of the box-office tracking companies and they get added to the North American Box office totals.

Next Week's Movies.

My plans for next week got a little messed up because there wasn't a print of Who Killed the Electric Car? Available. I decided to keep Talladega and Inconvenient Truth for another week but switch the order. Since most of the students were gone for most of Talladega's first week I figured enough would still want to see it. The same sort of logic goes for Inconvenient Truth plus it's first week had Homecoming in it and still did very well. It's very unusual for Western Film to play a movie for three weeks so I hope I'm not wrong on the demand for Truth.

There were a couple new movies available, Crank and Black Dahlia. Crank is the kind of low profile action movie we don't usually do well with. I'd play it but only if there was nothing I thought would be more popular. I'm planning to play Black Dahlia the next week.

I've already been told World Trade center will be available the next week. Not sure what to do about that one.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Nest Week's Movies.

Today was a somewhat interesting day to book. Inconvenient Truth has done well but not what I expected. However it was Homecoming and the weather was bad. I figured it will pick up later in the week. Looks like I may be right as today (Monday) was busier than Saturday. The weekend numbers normally wouldn't lead me to keep the movie for a second week but I decided to keep it. The other movies available were:

Material Girls
Talladega Nights
Flyboys (already!, big bomb!)

I decided to pick up Talladega for the first show and keep Truth for the late show.

There was another option. Who killed the Electric Car was available but I decided not to play it this week. Since it's Thanksgiving the campus will be pretty much deserted so I didn't want to "waste' it.
My current plan it to play Electric Car the following week and move Talladega Nights to the late show unless something good becomes available.

There's some interesting movies coming like Hollywoodland but there's no 'hits' coming in the next couple weeks.

Nest Week's Movies.

Today was a somewhat interesting day to book. Inconvenient Truth has done well but not what I expected. However it was Homecoming and the weather was bad. I figured it will pick up later in the week. Looks like I may be right as today (Monday) was busier than Saturday. The weekend numbers normally wouldn't lead me to keep the movie for a second week but I decided to keep it. The other movies available were:

Material Girls
Talladega Nights
Flyboys (already!, big bomb!)

I decided to pick up Talladega for the first show and keep Truth for the late show.

There was another option. Who killed the Electric Car was available but I decided not to play it this week. Since it's Thanksgiving the campus will be pretty much deserted so I didn't want to "waste' it.
My current plan it to play Electric Car the following week and move Talladega Nights to the late show unless something good becomes available.

There's some interesting movies coming like Hollywoodland but there's no 'hits' coming in the next couple weeks.

Recent Best and Worst Trailers

In the last couple weeks I've seen one of the best and one of the worst movie trailers ever.

BEST- Little Children starring Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly. It's mostly scenes from the movie with only a little dialogue, the interesting thing is the background sound of a train approaching, it's intercut with shots of the male lead and a little boy playing with trains and eventually colliding. As it goes the editing becomes faster. It's hard to explain but cool to watch.

WORST- Marie Antoinette starring Kisten Dunst. The trailer is scenes from the movie set to some horrible 80's song. The images don't even seem to be synched to the song. Just awful.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Next Week's Movie

Rainbow finally dropped Inconvenient Truth from their $7.50 art series so I was able to book it for Western Film. The only other new film available was Accepted which I figured was aimed at younger people than most UWO students.

There has been a lot of requests for Truth so I decided to run it for both shows, not something I do often unless I have to. It's fairly short so the late show is at 9:05, so even if the late show is a bust it won't be too expensive in terms of staffing.

Based on requests and previous experience I think Truth will be one of our highest attended films this year.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Scott Baio as Maverick?!

I was flipping TV channels yesterday and watched a little bit of a show on child stars. There was a quick interview snippet with Scott Baio saying he was offered Top Gun! I can't imagine him in the role. He wasn't a very good actor for one, didn't look like a fighter pilot either. For all his faults Tom Cruise was perfect for the part of Maverick in Top Gun.

Next Week's Movies.

My choice for next week was pretty easy. Snakes on a Plane and Clerks 2 were the only good choices available. There was also a couple movies available that didn't do well like Wicker Man and Zoom.

I decided to put Snakes as the early show since I think it has wider appeal than Clerks 2.

I'm curious to see how they do. Both could be the kind of movie where most of the people who want to see them go to the first run theatres.

Still waiting for Inconvenient Truth, maybe next week.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Open Threat Post for questions.

Since I figure there may be some new readers among the new students I figured I'd put up an open thread. If there are any questions about Western Film or the movie industry please leave them as comments and I'll answer them as best I can.

Fun with Film Shipping!

Something happened this week that happens every so often, a problem with shipping and receiving a film.

Film is shipped on small reels about 20 minutes long. Most films are 6 reels. The small reels are shipped in metal canisters that hold from 2-4 small reels. Most of the time we expect to receive 2 canisters.

We book on Monday and the movies usually show up Wednesday or Thursday. To get a movie ready to play we splice it together with special tape. Add the trailers to the front and it's ready to go.

This week I'm playing three films, Prada, Scanner Darkly and Friday Midnight show of Crash. We already had Prada sine we played it last week so I was expecting Scanner and Crash to show up.

Nothing showed up Wednesday which isn't uncommon. When I got to work Thursday afternoon I checked and found the following: Both parts of Crash, 1/2 of Scanner and 1/2 of ANT BULLY! Needless to say I made a very fast phone call. The second half of Scanner was shipped today (Friday) on the bus so it all turned out okay. I'm glad we aren't far from Toronto.

We have had some other similar problems.

Every so often Purolator loses half of the film and sends it to Windsor or something.

Last week Universal didn't tell the warehouse to send You, Me and Dupree so it came in on the bus on Friday.

Sometimes small mistakes add up to bigger problems. We played a movie called Walking Tall once, it came in late for some reason so I was putting it together during the 7pm show to play for the late show. It ended up being one of the few times I have lost a show. The small reels weren't labeled properly so I had no idea what order the reels were supposed to go in?! The only way to tell was to play the small reels and figure out the right order. If the movie had come in on time I would have been able to figure out the order Friday afternoon. Since it came in late I couldn't check before it was supposed to play and had to cancel the show.
The worst example was a couple years ago. I don't remember what movie it was (probably blocked it out). It was the 7pm show. The studio didn't tell the warehouse to send the print. When I called Thursday the warehouse sent a print by Purolator. Purolator lost half and all I got was the first half. Another canister of the second half was put on the bus and should have arrived Friday Afternoon. There was some sort of natural gas leak or something in downtown Toronto which messed up the shipment. The canister didn't come on the 5pm bus and the next one was supposed to come in at 7pm.

So now I had a choice: do I cancel the show or take a chance and do the following.
Put together the first half, about an hour's worth, and start it at 7pm. Pick up the second half at the bus depot after 7 rush it back and put it together while the first half was playing. There would have been a short intermission while I threaded up the second half but other than that it should all have worked smoothly. I took the chance and guess what happened? The second half didn't show up on the 7pm bus.

I stopped the show about 40 minutes in and explained exactly to the audience what had happened. Thankfully most of them thought it was funny and no one yelled at me. The canister showed up in time to play for the Saturday show.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Scenes after the credits.

Some films have scenes after the credits. Currently we are playing X-men which has a brief but interesting scene at the end. I'm one of those strange people who watches the credits for every movie (unless I really have to go to the bathroom). I find it funny how the theatre is empty within about 10 seconds of credits showing most of the time. I was in California once and most of the people there stayed to watch the credits, maybe in case there was someone they knew?

Comedies, especially animated ones, tend to have scenes after the credits. Dodgeball had one that was almost a minute long.

Sometimes action/sci-fi films do as well, Constantine had one. There something similar at the end of Aliens.

I won't even get into the number of horror movies that have scenes at the end.

One of the Lethal Weapon movies had a scene at the end but the theatre I saw it in still had a curtain and it started closing partway through the scene. Whoever had set up the automation of that show I guess didn't see the extra scene or didn't care.

Sometimes Studios use the extra scene as a marketing ploy, some people went back to see X-Men again after they heard about the end. I was working in a theatre playing Monster's Inc and at one point we had to change the last reel on all the prints. Monster's Inc. was one of the animated films that had fake bloopers in the credits. Partway through the run they changed the bloopers and then ran ads to get people to see the movie again to see the bloopers. Thankfully the bloopers were really funny.

Next Week's Movies

There were only a couple new films available, Beerfest and Zoom. Neither struck me as something that would be popular at Western Film. Beerfest could have done well but I think it's one of those movies where people will wait for the DVD.

I decided to bring back The Devil Wears Prada since it did so well last week. I inquired about whether a print of A Scanner Darkly was available and it was so I booked it. I'm curious how it does, it's gotten some press but is a bit unusual.

Looks like An Inconvenient Truth will probably play the following week. I hope so, we are running out of good movies to play.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

On the other hand the Media can be manipulated.

I was involved with Western Film while it was still a club, at the time we still ran in Middlesex College and had just converted to 35mm film from 16mm. My friend Mark Maclellan and myself were in charge of Western Film. We both were fans of the movie Basic Instinct, him more so than me. We heard that the British version had scenes that weren't in the North American version. We arranged to bring in a print of the British version and show it. I won't get into how much trouble and expense it was to get it.
So we had the print and had to decide how to market it. This was before the Internet and marketing films was harder and more expensive for small operations like Western Film.
The added footage was basically extra sex and violence, which is pretty much what the whole movie was about. We decided to market it as the Director's Cut. The term was just starting to be used.
Anyway to get to the point, as they say there's no such thing as bad publicity and nothing sells like controversy. We decided to write a fake protest letter to the Gazette and if they published it that would get word of mouth going. They published it and we went on to have 4 sold out shows and made over $10,000 which at the time was a huge amount for Western Film.

Some related trivia.
-The 'person' who sent in the protest letter was Trina Shoons, an anagram of Sharon Stone.
-A nun from Brescia sent in a real protest letter.
-The added footage was less than a minute but was quite shocking for the time.

Tabloid Magazines.

I've noticed a couple things in the tabloids/magazines the last couple weeks. One of them had Nicole Ritchie on the cover, a bad candid of her running or something in a swimsuit. The tagline was something like 'Nicole's starving herself to death'. I bet if you checked back a few issues they ran a similar tagline about her being fat.
I looked at an inside page of one yesterday while waiting for the photocopier and it was running some sets of comparison photos. The one that caught my eye was Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. In the first picture she was taller than him, in the second picture they were the same height so they had a little caption saying Tom was wearing lifts in his shoes. The thing I noticed was in the first picture Katie was wearing a long formal gown which didn't show her feet. I'm not much on women's wear but I would imagine that dress would come with very high heels. In the second pics they were both more casually dressed and she wasn't wearing heels so they are probably about the same height in actuality.

Just a couple examples of how the tabloids manipulate images. I wonder if Tom Cruise wouldn't have had the problems he's had if the media hadn't paid so much attention to the couch jumping incident.

Also examples of how the media manipulates/reflects body image. The women can never be the right weight, the tabloids are always running articles saying so and so is fat or too thin. If they feel they have to say Tom Cruise is wearing lifts in his shoes as a bad thing they are implying/affirming being short is a detriment for a man. I'm glad I'm 6'2.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Back to School

It's Frosh Week, the most chaotic week of the year for basically everyone here at the University. 5000 new students plus many lost parents in need of directions.

It's the most unpredictable week of the year in terms of attendance at the movies. Even more unpredictable than usual.

We had a lot of adults at The Devil Wears Prada on the weekend. I imagine some of them will avoid the campus during the week. On the other hand I expect attendance for You, Me and Dupree will go up as the students return.

Hollywood has completely run out of ideas/ Poster of the Week.

Well, it's official. Hollywood can only recycle itself now. The poster is for a remake of Revenge of the Nerds in 2007. The original one is a great film, I hope they don't make the new one suck. According to IMDB the movie doesn't even have a cast yet. They may have put the poster out so soon because it's one of the productions from a new subset of Fox called Fox Atomic which is supposed to make movies aimed at teenagers. As opposed to Fox Searchlight which makes movies for adults and the art crowd. Little Miss Sunshine is one example.

Fox Atomic, I can't decide if I like the name, simultaneously interesting and cheesy.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Back when Mel was Cool

Mel Gibson has been a movie star for a long time. He started in Australia in the late 70's with his first big international hit being Mad Max. I used to be a huge Mel Gibson fan but not any more.

When he was younger he was one of the best looking actors around. People put him on the cover as Sexiest Man Alive in 1985 or 1986. I think it was the first time they had bestowed that title.

The 1983 GQ cover here I always considered his best magazine cover. It's pretty rare, I only found a couple over years of selling old mags.

Too bad Mel has done the same going crazy routine as Tom Cruise but not as spectacularly. I don't think anyone will take him seriously any more except for the people who share his religious beliefs. It'll be interesting to see how his next movie Apocalycto does after the current controversy. I doubt he needs the money though, no studio wanted to make Passion of the Christ so he paid for it himself which means he would have got most of the hundreds of millions of dollars it made.

Most people think Mel Gibson is Australian but he is American, his family moved to Australia when he was 12 to avoid the draft.
Mad Max was dubbed by Warner because they feared American audiences wouldn't understand the Australian accents, as usual with dubbing it made the movie cheesy. If it hadn't been a really good movie to start with Mel may never have been an international star.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Favorite Books not made into movies?

A lot of people have books they really like that weren't made into movies. Of course a lot of people hate it when books are made into bad movies.

My favorite book is Rendevous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. He's most famous for writing 2001: A Space Odyssey. Rama is about a huge spaceship that comes into the solar system and the crew sent to investigate it. Some of the imagery it presents is outstanding. I've heard about it getting made into a movie for years but it never happened. I think part of the reason was it would have been really expensive to do it right with the special effects that were available. With the very effective special effects now available it could be done I would imagine.

Anyone else have any favorite books they would like to see made into movies?

Contest Winner!

Sorry about not posting this sooner, I was on vacation.

I have to admit I was fairly shocked by the results of the last contest. I didn't expect anyone to get the answer let alone the first entry?! I guess I gave too many hints.

I received another entry by e-mail that also fits the criteria so it also wins. Six Weeks from 1982 starred Dudley Moore and Mary Tyler Moore. I figured there was probably more than one answer.

So Karen who posted Billie Jean please e-mail at to claim your prize. The other Karen who e-mailed me also wins.

I hope Billie Jean comes out on DVD at some point. I always liked that movie.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Next Week's Movies.

There were three movies available today. I had been holding You, Me and Dupree to play next week because I figured it was a good frosh week movie. Miami Vice was also available. The Devil Wears Prada was available but since it's Fox it had conditions with it. If I started it Sep 1 I could split it with another movie but I had to pay Per caps which translates to a higher percentage. If I waited until Sept 8 to play it I wouldn't have had to pay the higher percentage but couldn't split it with another movie.
I decided to play Prada next week since it seemed another good Frosh week movie. Prada will play at 7pm and Dupree will play at 9:20. Unless something changes drastically Miami Vice will start Sep 8th.

Get This: I'm playing Prada next week but if I want to keep it another week I can't split it the second week!

These two movies will not be playing at Western Film because they are Fox and can't be split with another movie.
My Super Ex-girlfriend- I wouldn't have played this anyway, it sucked and bombed.
John Tucker Must Die- I would like to play this one but unless I have a week with nothing else I can't justify playing it full shows. I'd be more likely to bring back one of the summer hits.

The midnight series starts soon. I'll be posting the list on the website, some interesting stuff.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

2 fun movies

On Sunday Night I saw two movies. I'm on vacation so I see a lot of movies, even more than usual.

SNAKES ON A PLANE- I wasn't planning on seeing this until some of the industry stuff I get said it was actually good. I went to see it and it was a lot of fun. It's not really a horror movie, more of a campy B movie. It was more funny than scary. Samuel L. Jackson was great playing the whole thing with a straight face.

BON COP BAD COP- This is a Canadian movie about a English and French detectives that reluctantly partner to solve a series of murders that involve Hockey. Only in Canada would murders revolve around Hockey! I wasn't expecting much, the trailers were interesting but made is seem like a kind of screwball comedy. I ended up really enjoying it. It was funny but also dramatic and actionic (is that a word). The style was similar to the Lethal Weapon movies.
I 'm surprised at the size of the release. I figured it wouldn't play here at all but it's in three of the four first run theatres in London. So go support you Canadian Film Industry and see the movie. You'll have a good time.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Next Week's Movie

I'm sorta on vacation this week, storing up energy for Frosh week, the busiest (and most chaotic) week of the year at the University.
I booked Click for next week. By itself at 7pm. There were two new movies available, Monster House and Ant Bully. Neither would work as a late show and I wanted Click to be at 7pm. I might have played Monster House if I had nothing else to play. I don't think it would have done well though, not enough adult interest. If was a pretty fun movie though.

I'm still planning on playing You, Me and Dupree the following week.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Trivia Contest #2

I wasn't planning to run another contest this soon but thought of a great question today.

As with the last one the winner gets 2 free passes to Western Film and 2 free medium popcorns.

I'm going to leave this contest open until Aug 25th, I'm really curious to see if anyone gets the right answer. I'm also going to add this contest to the Western Film Mass-e-mail this Friday.

Here's the question:

What movie starred an actor and actress who had the same last name but weren't related?

There could be more than one answer but I can't think of any.

Hint #1 None of the the Baldwins or Arquettes are the stars.
Hint #2 It's from the 80's and not on DVD.
Hint #3 At least one of the stars is still making movies and you will have heard of them. It wouldn't be fair to pick some obscure little movie with no-name stars would it?

Please post answers as comments.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Why so many Shakespeare movies?

I was quite surprised when I looked up the answers for the trivia contest and there were so many Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet movies, plus lots from his other plays I'm sure. I started thinking about why there so many. I thought of two reasons:

He's free, as far as I know there's no copyright on his works. I don't see how there could be as it's been what, 400 years since he died. Therefore making a movie of one of his plays requires no rights to be paid, and no writer unless they wish to adapt the story.

The stories are fairly universal. Even people who have never read the plays usually know the basic stories and names of the characters of the most famous plays. Most of us were forced to read them in high school (that may work against them though).

Just think about how many cultural references there are based on Shakespeare, everything from the name Romeo signifying romance to the multiple references in The Simpsons and tons of other TV shows and movies..

Poster of the Week

I was just looking at the posters for some upcoming movies. This one caught my eye. Never heard of the movie but it's animated, not for children and looks cool. I'll be there (if it ever plays in London).

Trivia Contest Winner!

Western Film's first trivia contest is now over. The entries to the contest were all interesting. I didn't know the answer for sure before I posted the contest but figured it was probably Shakespeare. Dorian Grey was one I hadn't thought of.
I'm going to call it a tie between Donna (Romeo and Juliet) and Janet (Hamlet). If you look up either title on IMDB you get a ton of listings. Hamlet seems to have more than Romeo but more of them are TV and I noticed at least one is a short film and another doesn't seem to actually exist.

So Donna and Janet please e-mail me at and I'll get your prizes to you.


Midnight Movies Question.

I've been thinking of something and wanted to get some input from readers. The last couple years we have played Friday Midnight Cult movies. Some of the ones for the upcoming year are Van Wilder, Fight Club and Kill Bill 1 and 2.

I've been thinking of playing the movie Saturday Midnight as well. I'm not sure if we would just split the crowd that would have come Friday? A lot of people like to go out drinking Saturday night. Thursday midnight has also been mentioned but the same issue presents itself.

The nice thing is if I try and it doesn't work Western Film won't be out much. The movie is already paid for for the Friday show so the only extra costs would be a few hours of staff.
Anyone have any thoughts?

Next Week's Movies

For the first time in a while I had a hard choice to make as far as next week goes. There were 4 movies available.

Superman Returns
You, Me and Dupree
Little Man

Little Man was easy to say no to, it looked absolutely horrible.

Superman is too long to play anything else as a late show.
Click and Dupree would make a good double feature but during the summer I didn't think either would do great as a late show.
Also we are getting close to the academic year starting so I took that into account.

I don't think anything good will come off next week. Devil Wears Prada will be at least 2 weeks. Clerks 2 might come available but I don't want to play it until the students return.

I decided to play Superman next week by itself. I'm going to play Click starting Aug 25th, probably by itself. I could play Dupree the same week but I think I'll hold it for the next week. The playweek starting Sep 1 contains most of Frosh Week. Dupree strikes me as a good Frosh Week movie, funny, short, with popular actors. Ideally I'd like to play Dupree and Prada but may not be able to. Maybe Dupree and Clerks 2?

During or soon after Frosh week we plan to play An Inconvenient Truth.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Another reason to dislike Wal-Mart

I've read a few things about Wal-Mart and realized something.
One of the reasons theatres are having problems is because DVD's are coming out sooner after the theatrical release so some people are waiting for the DVD. Studios now make most of the money from the movie on DVD which creates pressure to release the movies on DVD sooner.
I read that 60% of DVDs in the US are sold at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart sells DVDs as loss leaders,meaning they sell them for less than normal, sometimes below cost, in order to get people into the store with the assumption (hope?) they'll buy other items. It's a fairly common retail practice.
However if Wal-Mart sells 60% of the DVDs at an artificially low price that means they are creating an artificially high demand. If they sold them at the regular price the demand would be lower, sales would be lower and DVD revenue wouldn't seem as high compared to theatrical revenue.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Every so often I put up a blank post for anyone to ask questions. Please leave any questions as comments and I'll answer them if I can.

Next Week's Movie

My choice for next week was simple again. Lady in the Water was the only one available. I decided to do just one show again. In the summer we don't do well on a late show unless it's a different movie than the 7pm show.
I'll probably bring Da Vinci back if I have a week where nothing is available. It's done really well.
We often bring the summer hits back in September once the students have returned.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Dark Knight and other sequels

I received a press release from Warner Bros last week concerning the next Batman movie. It's going to be called the Dark Knight. Christian Bale will be returning as Batman. Christopher Nolan will be directing again and Heath Ledger will be playing the Joker. This sounds cool, Batman Begins was one of my favorite movies from last year.
I was looking at the list of upcoming releases and some of the sequels caught my attention.

Sept 22 -Jackass 2: I hate to admit I'm looking forward to this one. I'm one of those wackos that find Jackass really funny. I laughed more during the trailer for Jackass 2 than I have for entire movies. In my defense I find the stunts funny, not so much some of the gross out stuff they do. The bit in Jackass 1 with the papercuts I couldn't watch.

Oct 13 - The Grudge 2: Never saw the first one so can't really comment, hopefully it won't suck.

Oct 27 - Saw III: This could be interesting or bad. The first one was pretty novel, the second one was edging closer to formula horror movies but still had some twists.

Nov 3 - Santa Clause 3: I haven't seen the first 2 because I really dislike Tim Allen. I saw a trailer for the third one and I might have to go see it. Martin Short is playing Jack Frost, the villain. From the trailer it looks like he's really funny and perfect for the part.

Dec 1 - Van Wilder Deux: The rise of Taj. I was surprised to see this one on the list, never heard it was being made. It sounds like one of those desperate sequels. Van Wilder was really funny but a lot of it came from Ryan Reynolds. The second one is about his Indian assistant played by Kal Penn. Reynolds isn't even in it which means Van Wilder isn't either. On the other hand Kal Penn was really funny in the first movie so it may work.

Dec 22 - Rocky Balboa: No comment.

Jan 5 2007 White Noise 2: Why are they making a sequel to a Canadian Horror movie that didn't do all that well in the first place, or so I thought?

Feb 9 : Young Hannibal: about the early years of Hannibal Lector from Silence of the Lambs. Don't know much about this one but I'm assuming Anthony Hopkins will not be doing it.

Mar 23- Bean 2: Made mostly for overseas I would imagine but I'll see it.

May 4 - Spiderman 3: no words are necessary.

May 18th - Shrek The Third: First time I've heard the great title. Unless it's really bad all they need to do is open the doors and the cash registers will fill with money.

May 25 - Pirates 3: This is almost guaranteed to be a big hit just because the ending of part 2 was not there, it just kind of stopped.

Jun 22 - Evan Almighty:

First Western Film Trivia Contest!

This will be the first Trivia Contest for this blog. The Winner will receive 2 free passes to Western Film and 2 free medium popcorns.

Here's the question.

What movie has been remade the most?

I'm referring to remakes not sequels, prequels etc. For example King Kong from 2005 was a remake of the 1933 film which was also remade in 1976.

Please post your entries as comments. The winner will be declared Aug 14th.

Good Luck.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Interested in reading a lot about movies?

I found this through one of my favorite websites. Lots of movie news concentrating mostly on comics/action/sci-fi.

Mark Cuban is the owner of a Football Team, a chain called Landmark Theatres and a cable channel. He put a post on his blog asking readers to make suggestions how to improve the moviegoing experience. He got over 900 responses! I've only read part but a lot are completely impractical as far as the movie business such as charging $1.00 on opening weekend to get word of mouth going. Some are contradictory, one guy suggested the theatre keeping track of what movies he goes to with who etc and letting him know when a movie he might like is going to play. For everyone who likes that idea there would be others who would find it an invasion of privacy.
Some ideas have already been done such as using mall parking lots as drive-ins at night after the stores have closed. There's a Drive-In in Toronto that doubles as a golf range during the day.
Here's the original post
And his response.

A great idea.

One of the most common complaints about movie theatres is people talking or using cellphones, also there are technical issues such as the picture out of focus. Modern theatres don't have the staff to monitor all the theatres. One of the big theatre chains in the US is trying something different to solve this problem. A few people in the audience will get a kind of remote control that will have buttons for projection problem, sound problem, talkers etc. The remotes will let the staff know there is an issue that needs to be dealt with and the customers don't have to miss any of the movie. I wonder how expensive they are. I'd love to get a couple for Western Film.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Next Week's Movie

As I mentioned earlier Sony did the unusual move of letting us book Da Vinci Code to start this week so I already know what was playing. I checked what else was available just in case but the only other new movie available was A Prairie Home Companion. I think I would brought X-Men back rather than play Prairie. It doesn't have high awareness and has played at some other theatres in town (plus I thought it was boring.)
Next couple weeks could be Superman and Devil Wears Prada.

Western Film mini movie reviews

Here's what I thought of a few movies I've seen lately.

CLERKS 2: It seemed a bit forced but was fun overall. I wish the 2 main charaters were better actors. It was fine in a little indie movie in 1994 but now it just seems distracting. I don't mind vulgarity in a movie but I thought the F word was used way more than necessary. I was also getting a trifle annoyed at all the anti-gay humour. The funniest part was the muscial number. A big deal was made of the promotion where the first 10,000 people to sign up at the Clerks 2 myspace would get a screen credit. I waited until the end of the credits to see just how long it would take 10,000 names to go by but it wasn't there. Maybe they didn't do it on the Canadian prints.

MONSTER HOUSE: An interesting little movie, funny and pretty scary for little kids. I'm surprised it's doing well since it's so scary but doesn't have a lot to appeal to adults. I could tell it was shot to be shown in 3-d by the way it was animated. If you see it don't leave as soon as the credits start, there's some more stuff in the credits. It fulfills an expectation I had about the movie but writing it would be a spoiler.

MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND: I was looking forward to this one since the concept was fairly original and I like both Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson. It was entertaining but not extremely so, pretty middle of the road. It's Fox so it likely won't play at Western Film if they don't let me split it.

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA: Fun, Meryl did a great job. It wasn't as funny as I was expecting and I admit I looked at my watch a couple times but was still worth seeing. It's also Fox but I'll play it eventually.

CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA: I saw this last night at the Hyland. It's a mockumentary about what the US could be like if the South had won the civil war. Concentrated mostly on the slavery issue. It was presented as a British documentary being shown on American Television. The 'commercials' were the funniest part-the slave shopping channel etc. It was quite interesting.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: Dead Man's Chest. Was a lot of fun, very similar to the first one. I never understood why the first one did so well. It was fun but not exceptional. I guess it appealed to enough different types of people. As for the second part, everyone seems to agree it's too long but I haven't heard anyone say they didn't like it. Disney practially guarantees another hit with the third film, this film doesn't just have your typical sequel ending, it more or less just stops.

SUPERMAN RETURNS: Anyone who has been reading this blog knows I was really looking forward to the movie. I really hate that it's being considered a disappointment. I think it's one of those movies that people just kinda decided wasn't great for no particular reason. The reviews were good. I really liked it, I've actually seen it twice. The effects are spectacular. Brandon Routh does a good Christopher Reeve impression. Kevin Spacey was having great fun chewing up the scenery. Kate was Bosworth was miscast, I can think of so many actresses that would have been better, it was even obvious that her hair had been colored, she's actually a blonde. I'll watch it again when Western Film plays it.

Poster of the Week

I don't plan on seeing The Descent but I find the poster quite neat. The movie is about 6 women who go underground exploring caves and various forms of havoc ensues. It turns out the poster is based on a Salvador Dali work according to Jim Emerson at Scanners. He seems to be Roger Ebert's heir apparent. Anyone who has taken a film class has seen Dali's and Luis Brunel's Un Chien Andalou, a surrealist short which uses a editing trick to make it appear that a woman's eyeball is being slit open.

Milk ads.

I saw a movie tonight and one of those Milk Rap ads was on before the movie. I can't decide if they are supposed to be genuine or a parody. I don't see anyone taking them seriously, I could tell by some of the comments from other audience members. I suppose by being so bad they still get people's attention?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Stuff I find in the theatre.

Technically only items bought from Western Film are supposed to be brought into the theatre but people smuggle some stuff in. More on that in a later post. At the end of each show we clean up the bigger garbage, popcorn bags, cups etc. I've made some interesting discoveries.

This week I found a bottle of Salsa, the funniest thing was the guy came back for it. I'd already put it in the recycling.
Banana/Orange peels/Apple cores.
Sunflower or other nut shells
McDonalds etc.
Foreign food I didn't even know what it was.
Ice cream melted all over the floor.
Candy we don't sell spilled all over and getting smushed into the carpet.

On the other hand, I often find money, the most I ever found in one night was $12.00.

We also find things like wallets, students cards, cell phones, keys,umbrellas etc. I try to track down the owners if I can, especially with wallets. I found keys in there that were never claimed, you'd think the people would come back when they couldn't get into their house or car. We have a nice selection of Umbrellas in our office.

Unpredictable Hot Dogs

During the summer Western Film sells Hot Dogs because we are the only ones open at night and some people are looking for food more substantial than popcorn. Hot Dogs present a bit of a challenge. Each night we have to decide how many to put on. They take about 10 minutes to cook and if we are out a lot of people don't want to wait. We have to weigh several factors in deciding how many to start with at the beginning of the night. Just as an example of how unpredictable sales can be.
Most Tuesday we sell about 8 Hot Dogs. Last Tuesday we sold 17, a record. This Tuesday when one of my staff asked how many to put on I said 6. I didn't expect to sell 17 again but I did expect it to be busy.
Anyway to make a long story short, even though it was busier than last week we only sold 1 hot dog.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Changing Moviegoing Patterns

Like any business there's patterns but with a certain amount of unpredictability. I've noticed patterns change over the last few years. A lot of it started when the First Run Theatres, starting with the Silver City changed their prices. They made everyone the same price, dropping the adult admission and raising the kid's and seniors rates. They also made the prices the same for matinees as well as evening shows. They also erased discount Tuesdays. I wondered why they did all of this. I figured they did it to spread out the business over more days instead of selling out Fridays and Saturdays and Tuesdays. It seems to have worked and spilled over to other theatres.
Our Tuesday business has dropped but other nights have picked up. Sometimes Monday is as busy as Friday.
It changes again during the school year. 2 years ago the busy night was Wednesday. Last year it switched to Thursday. I figure it has a lot to do with the University putting a lot of night classes on Tuesday and Wednesday. Even within my staff I had trouble with too many people having classes on the same nights.

Next Week's movie

This was another week with a very simple choice. The only movie available was Nacho Libre. I hope all the Jack Black fans didn't already go see it. I'm not sure I'll watch it. Jack Black really bugs me. He seems to be one of those actors you really like or really hate.
In an unusual move Sony let us confirm Da Vinci Code a week in advance. It'll be starting Aug 4th. I was planning to run two shows a night until I checked the running time. At 2.5 hours plus trailers it would make a late show for 10:00. That's too late for us during the summer. During the school year I would probably run the late show.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Movie Posters work.

I used to use still pictures from the movies on the Western Film website but one day had one of my little brainstorms. I started using the movie poster artwork instead. The posters for the movies are designed by talented professionals to convey information about the movie. One glance at a movie poster usually tells you what kind of movie it is and who the target market is. I'll illustrate with a few examples.
The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift-The main image is the car since cars are the stars of the movie, no actor in the movie is a star so the pictures of the cast are fairly small, the artwork of the buildings implies speed.

I'll compare the posters for two movies Keanu Reeves has this summer as another example.
Lake House- the position of the characters implies romance, he is in b/w, she is in color which implies the emphasis is on her. They are out of focus which implies a dream like state probably relating to the concept of the characters living 2 years apart (or maybe it's just to make them look younger-a old Hollywood trick). Basically the poster instantly tells you it's a romantic movie aimed at women.
A Scanner Darkly - The characters in this movie were shot live and them animated over. A process that used to be called rotoscoping but I'm not sure if it still is. The poster is quite dark which implies mystery or horror, the animated characters are seen, the colors are quite bold. The characters are behind a window blind. This image is implicitly associated with Film Noir and mysteries. The text font and title imply some Science Fiction elements. Basically the poster tells you the movie is an unusual mystery film aimed mostly at guys.

Disney Sucks

I can't decide if this is good or bad news. I inquired with our booker to see if the Western Film situation with regards to Disney had changed. Disney considers Western Film and Rainbow in the same zone so we can't play the same movie at the same time so we never play Disney. The booker told me that the situation had not changed but in the short term that might be a good thing.
For Cars and Pirates Disney is trying a new way of calculating the percentage theatres pay. It's based on how well the movie does, the better you do the more you pay. This is quite different from the way it works now. Second run theatres pay a percentage known in advance and the same on almost all movies, usually 35%. Some studios drop the percentage the longer we keep the movie.
That isn't the worst part of what Disney is doing. The flat or lowest percentage is 20% higher than we pay now!
This is going to put some theatres in an awful situation. The biggest problem with this is the precedent is could set. If a theatre pays 55% for Pirates the other studios may say they want 55% for their hits too. If it was just Pirates and Cars it could probably be justified since concession sales will be quite high for those movies. However if all the studios wanted 55% many theatres would go out of business.
It's an awful situation to put the theatres in. If I had to make the choice I would boycott those two movies on principle.
Theatres are already squeezed by DVD, Video Games etc and Disney is trying to squeeze even more money out of them.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

4 movies open this weekend and I want to see them all.

This weekend has an usual number of wide releases opening. My Super ex-Girlfriend, Monster House, Clerks 2 and Lady in the Water. All of them I want to see with Monster House being lowest priority. I think the one I want to see most is Super Ex-Girlfriend. It's an unusual idea and I like both actors, Luke Wilson and Uma Thurman. I just hope it's not one of those movies where all the good scenes were in the trailers. There's speculation which one will be #1 at the Box office. I think it will be Lady in the Water, it looks good and the director (I'm not even going to try and spell it) is a fairly big name. Clerks 2 will do boffo business with it's cult crowd but not likely spread into the mainstream. It's one of those movies that will do a lot of business opening weekend as all Kevin Smith's fans will see it. It will then drop off a lot next weekend.
Monster House has been a marketing challenge for Sony. It's too scary for little kids but may be hard sell to older kids. My brother took my nephew to Cars and my nephew was scared by the trailer for Monster House. He is only three though.

Well, that's it for big films.

All the 'Big' films for the summer have now come out. The rest of the summer is a mix of smaller movies unless there's another surprise hit like Wedding Crashers from last year. A couple could do so, Lady in The Water is an unknown quantity and it should be interesting how Snakes on a Plane does. I was looking through a listing of some of the movies coming out and there were a lot I haven't seen any publicity for. One that sounds interesting is Crank. It stars Jason Statham from the Transporter movies. He plays a guy who must keep his adrenaline level up to keep a poison from killing him. Should be some interesting action sequences.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Next Week's Movies.

The choice was pretty easy this week. Over The Hedge and The Break-Up were both available. Over the Hedge obviously had to be the early show as it appeals to children. I sorta wished I could put The Break-Up early as it would do better but I figured I can bring it back later if I have an empty week.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Poster of the week and Bad movie of the week.

This pic is of the video poster for a 1984 movie called The Perils of Gwendoline. It was a bad movie that I always liked. It was a French movie with American leads, some of the characters were speaking French dubbed into English. The guy was Brent Huff who was a hot guy but a bad actor. The actress was Tawny Kitaen who was quite hot at the time. She was on The Surreal Life recently, time has not been nice to her. The characters in the movie find a city populated by women while searching for her father. There's lots of female flesh present. There's one funny/strange moment. Brent is pretending to be one of the women in the city and one of the guards takes off his clothes. There's a quick shot of his crotch but there's nothing there but hair!? I read later he had to wear a 'crotch wig'.

Concerts Vs Movies.

I went to see a Tom Jones Concert here in London tonight. My Grandma wanted to go. I was thinking about how different people treat concerts and movies.
Western Film costs $4.25 and if we start the movie 5 minutes late for some reason we get people complaining.
The tickets for Tom Jones at the John Labatt Center were about $100 each. The concert was supposed to start at 8pm so we showed up about 7:45. A comedian started at 8:05 and did his bit until 8:30. Then we sat and waited until 9:05 before Tom Jones actually came on. I could tell the audience was getting impatient.
The worst part was the seats, they had very little padding and were very close together, I'm quite tall and felt like I was sitting in a tiny airplane. By the time Tom started we both had sore butts.

So why are people willing to pay over $100 to wait for over an hour but get upset at a few minutes delay for a movie?

BTW- it was fairly obvious why the folks at JLC were waiting, people kept going and buying beer.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Does this embarrass Johnny Depp?

I wonder what Johnny Depp thinks about his teen idol days? Would he prefer to forget them or see them as a stepping stone to where he is now. Hard to believe he went from a teen idol to one of the biggest film stars in the world. How many actors were successful in that transition?
This is the May 1989 issue of 16 magazine.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Darn Pirates.

Turned out Pirates broke pretty much broke every box office record, 135 million over 3 days.

It sucks for Western Film because we don't play Disney product so we won't be playing it unless we pick it up after it leaves Rainbow in the far distant future.

Disney considers Western Film and Rainbow in the same zone so we can't play the same movie at the same time. They give their movies to Rainbow first. They are able to run matinees every day and other things Western Film can't and hence gross more than we do.
Thankfully Disney is the only one with this policy and they normally don't have a lot of product I would want to play. So far this year the only ones I would like to play are Cars and Pirates.

Next Week's movies.

Today was an interesting day for booking. I was told as soon as I got in the office that The Lake House was available. Over the Hedge wasn't. About the only other one that might have come off was The Break Up. I was trying to decide what to do if both Lake House and Breakup were available, which order to put them in.
Break Up wasn't available after all so I thought it was just Lake House. However at the last minute, literally 10 minutes before 5 pm I was told I could play X-Men 3 if I paid per caps. Per caps means in essence we play a higher percentage than usual. However we could play another movie with it which Fox often doesn't allow.
I decided to run X-Men at 7 pm, initially I was told it was 140 minutes long so I decided not to run a late show of Lake House because it would have started too late. However it turned out X-Men was only 104 minutes so I could start Lake House early enough.

Looks like in the next couple weeks we'll have Break Up, Over The Hedge, and Nacho Libre.

I've had a lot of people ask about Da Vinci. It's still doing well and Sony is one of the studios that puts two weeks between First and Second run so it will be at least 3 weeks before we get it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Disney is smart.

One thing that has been hurting movies lately is overemphasis expectations. Superman Returns doesn't break records and suddenly people think it sucks. Even the general public is getting into the 'oh, no it it only did 20 million on Wednesday'.

Disney did something smart, they made no predictions as to how they expected Pirates to open. If it doesn't open as big as some say they won't have as many problems.

The word has it may break the all time opening weekend of 114 million set by Spiderman 2. I wouldn't be surprised, I saw it Sunday night at 11 pm and the theatre was pretty much full.

I agree with many of the critics, it's harmless summer fun but nothing more. It was too long and felt a little forced. And boy, talk about a sequel ending.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Roger Ebert and film critics.

Roger Ebert is in the hospital after emergency surgery, the news today said he was in serious but stable condition. He had been in the hospital about a month ago. He's always been one of my favorite reviewers. I usually tend to agree with him. If I haven't decided whether I want to see a movie I'll often check out his review. So many reviewers tend to write mostly a synopsis with some snide remarks. I had noticed Ebert's reviews seem to have gotten a little coarse the last little while. I was really surprised how down his review of Superman was. It all made sense when I heard about his health problems. Being in pain doesn't exactly make one want to write glowing reviews of anything.

On a related note. I make it a personal policy not to read reviews of a movie I definitely want to see until after I have seen it. If I read them before I find they colour my perception of the movie. I may notice something the reviewer mentioned I wouldn't have before. If the review was negative I sometimes find that influencing me as well. I find it much more interesting to see the movie then go and read the reviews. Like I said above, I only read the reviews before if I haven't decided whether or not to see the movie. This can backfire though. I hadn't planned on seeing Elf with Wil Ferrel but the reviews for it were really good so I went to see it. I hated that movie.

Next Week's Movie

My choice for next week was pretty much a no-brainer, there was only one movie available, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. I booked it on Monday. My booker said the Lake House may also be available but Warner was closed for the holiday so I had to wait til Tuesday to finalize. Turned out Lake House held so we only have the one movie. I'm curious how it does. I saw it on the weekend, my Mother (!?) wanted to go see it (she's always been into Muscle cars). It was a lot of fun, more so than I expected. I described it on the way out as a 'filmed version of a teenage boy's wet dream'.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

'Movie' magazines.

I used to deal in collectible magazines, mostly entertainment and fashion. I always found it fascinating the evolution of movie magazines. In the 20's, 30's and 40's they were basically about the movies themselves with some articles on the stars. Starting in the 50's they started to be more about the stars and got more gossipy. This trend accelerated in the 60's and by the 70's we had scandal mags like Rona Barrett's Hollywood. Then as prices of glossy magazines increased the newsprint tabloids like the Star took over since they were cheaper. In the last few years the prices of the newsprint versions increased enough that the tabloids went back to glossy magazines.
For Instance the Star started as a very large b/w tabloid, then turned color, then started to shrink, when it got about as small as it could the price started going up. Recently it got to the point the price was too high for a newsprint tabloid so it went back to glossy paper.
I'll put up some pics to illustrate the progression. I don't have scans of the recent stuff because I shut the business down a couple years ago. The Canadian Dollar went up and ebay saturated the market so it wasn't worth doing any more. If anyone has any reason to be interested I have scans over of 20,000 magazine covers. I sold a crapload of magazines over the years.

Creative Accounting.

Sometimes people in Hollywood are paid with a percentage of Box Office, DVD sales etc. The percentage can come off either the front end as soon as the movie is released or the back end after the film has made a profit.
Only a big star or director like Tom Cruise can get Front End. It's a well known thing in Hollywood that if you get Back end you'll never see a dime. Due to creative accounting, on paper almost no Hollywood movie makes a profit.
A while ago the man who wrote the Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America sued Paramount Pictures. He was supposed to get a cut of the profits and Paramount claimed a movie that pulled in over 400 million worldwide hadn't turned a profit?! The case got far enough along in the courts that certain people were freaking that Paramount might have to open it's books to the court. There was also people who could hardly wait to see this happen. If I remember correctly the case was settled out of court so Paramount never had to open it's books.
The moral is, if you ever get in a movie get the money up front.

Why Hollywood isn't in Hollywood or even LA.

There was a big trial in Delaware state earlier this year with Disney shareholders challenging the company over it's hiring of Michael Ovitz. He was fired/resigned about a year later with $140 million in severance pay. I think the shareholders lost which is a shame.
The reason I mentioned this is someone asked me why the trial was being held in Delaware not in LA.
Technically the headquarters of the major Hollywood Studios are in Delaware because it has the lowest corporate taxes or something of that nature. Apparently there are rows of mailboxes that qualify as the headquarters of all these multi-billion dollar companies.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

GST Reduction.

I mentioned this on a post a while ago. The 6% GST reduction kicks in today. This makes things a little more fun at the Box Office. We had to drop our price to $4.24. Now I get to hand pennies to people who will look at me strangely.
The reason is an interplay between federal and provincial taxes. If our ticket price minus Federal GST price goes over $4.00 a 10% Provincial Entertainment tax kicks in. $4.25 minus 6% is $4.01 hence we had to drop the price a penny to stay at $4.00.
I'm curious to see if anyone asks why we didn't drop a full 1% which would would have been about 4 cents. Actually we have needed a price increase for a while but were stuck at $4.25 because the extra tax would kick in if we went any higher. In the last couple years minimum wage has gone up over $1.00 an hour. To be fair I also raised the wages of those who made more than minimum. $1.00 an hour adds up to about an extra $12.00 a night cost for Western Film, it doesn't sound like much but it really adds up over the course of the year.
We'll be making 2 cents more per ticket , think that'll put a dent in it?

The Superman Gay issue.

There's been news stories about Warner being all freaked out by all the internet buzz about whether Superman is gay. Supposedly they think it will scare off the teenage boys that will be the movie's main target audience. They seem to have changed the advertising. The commercials I've been seeing now are almost all action and include a shot of him lifting something and he looks more like The Hulk than anything.
First of all, Superman is a fictional character. If some people see things in the character that read as gay that's fine but it's just an opinion, it's not like he's going to get caught in a closet with Batman.
Second I would like to think in today's day and age the fact that some people think Superman is gay would prevent others from seeing the movie would be considered silly. Unfortunately I'm probably wrong.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Next Week's Movies

There wasn't anything new available this week that I wanted to play. Precint B13 (The French movie) was available but that would have done zero business. Fox might have let us play The Omen but I didn't want it since we don't do well with horror movies.
I decided to play RV for the early show and keep MI3 as a late show. I'm curious to see how RV does, it's not as adult oriented as most of the movies we play. MI3 is doing well this week so I'm keeping it for another week.
I was kind of thinking Da Vinci Code might come off but I was told today it's still #4 at the Silver City. We'll probably get The Break Up, Over The Hedge and The Lake House before Da Vinci.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Studio Stipulations

The end of the last post reminded me of something the studios do. Sometimes they'll allow midnight showings the night before sometimes not. Sometimes they dictate no shows before noon opening day etc. I've never figured out why it changes for each film. Maybe they don't allow early shows for movies they don't think will get good word of mouth?

Looks like Superman Returns is Good!!

I get various business newsletters from Western Film's booking agent. Today I received two early reviews of Superman Returns. One is a newsletter, the other was an article from Variety. One said it was good the other was positively beaming.
I'm really glad it looks good. I've been waiting for this for a while but it really looked like one of those movies that could swing either way.
I'm considering tackling the opening night crowds to see this which I never do. I did see the midnight show of King Kong the day before it opened in general release. Maybe they will do the same for Superman.

Any Questions?

If anyone has any movie business or Western Film questions leave them as a comment and I'll answer them if I can.

Next Week's Movies.

I had two choices for next week, One was RV, the other was Mission Impossible 3. Guess which one I chose? I could have split them but I didn't want to play RV at 7pm and it wouldn't work as a late show since it's primarily a family film. I decided to do two shows of MI3 figuring there would be enough demand.
Unless patterns change we will be the only ones playing MI3. Paramount puts what is called per caps on most of their movies. Per caps basically means we pay a percentage of a phantom higher ticket price Paramount sets rather than our real prices. It doesn't usually add up to a lot extra. I've never seen Rainbow play a movie with per caps. I'm not sure if they don't want to pay the extra or just avoid the accounting hassle. That part is a pain. If anyone noticed we played Failure to Launch for two weeks before Rainbow played it per caps is why.
I have a tentative plan for next week. If nothing new comes off which I'm expecting and MI3 does as well as I hope I'll play RV at 7pm and MI3 for a late show.
However there is a small chance Da Vinci may come off. The next two weeks opens Click and Superman Returns so they will push some movies out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Poster of the Week.

This is the teaser poster for Snakes on a Plane, the first movie to be greenlit and get a star (Samuel L. Jackson) purely by the title. The studio tried to change it and got blasted so bad they changed it back. It comes out in August and will be a big hit if it's any good, the internet buzz is incredible, again based on the title. I heard people are using the image on the poster for tattoos.

Will that be Butter, Topping or Golden Topping?

One thing we get called on occasionaly is asking if people want butter on their popcorn when it's not actually butter. It's a special popcorn topping made by Becel, pretty similar to margarine. However we don't really have a choice in the asking. When I first started here I told the staff to ask people if they wanted topping. We then had to explain what we were asking to about 60% of the customers. Some people thought we meant the powder seasonings. We went back to asking if they wanted butter. I guess most people know what we are asking and know it's not real butter. I remember being asked if I wanted golden topping at a first run theatre run, I bet that really confused people. I don't buy food at the Silver City any more so I don't know what they ask. They have both the topping and real butter (which is extra).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Next Week's Movie.

Poseidon was the only movie available so I booked it for next week. I considered playing Thank You for Smoking as a late show but I don't think enough people know about it. I probably would have played it during the school year.
Since Poseidon didn't do very well (actually bombed) first run I'm only running one show a night. I'm curious to see how it does.
I saw Poseidon and thought it was fun, not great but not as bad as some people seemed to think. I do have to admit I expected more from Director Wolfgang Peterson, he normally makes really good films. I sorta got the impression the special effects took over the movie.