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.