Saturday, June 30, 2007

Western Film mini movie review - Paprika

Paprika is the latest Anime film to get a theatrical release. I saw it at The Hyland tonight. For those who don't know, Anime is Japanese animation made for adults not kids. Much of the Pokemon style kid's animation is very edited down Anime. I've always been a big Anime fan but had kinda given up on the DVD ones lately. Too often it just plain doesn't make sense. I often wonder if it's a translation issue or if the Japanese just have a different way of telling a story.

Anime is always spectacular to look at however. No one destroys a city in quite the same way as Japanese animators. I do like the movies that come out to theatres since they are more self contained and usually make more sense.

Considering it's themes of dreams and reality Paprika made fairly good sense. It did do the old ' is this real or am I still dreaming/in The Matrix/being mentally controlled by aliens?' bit a lot. Overall I really liked the film, spectacular visuals and lots of destruction. Cool music too, I usually hate the music in Anime, often sounds like bad 80's pop music. I'm considering playing it at Western Film but will have to see what comes available. Without the students around it really shrinks the Anime fandom on campus.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hiring Staff

I had to hire a new staff member this week. One of my current staff had to quit on short notice.

Until I got this job I'd never hired people before. When I was a student and I didn't get jobs I applied for I always wondered what I did wrong. Now that I'm hiring people I know just how random it can end up being. On-campus jobs are very popular because it's so convenient for students. Also some International students are only allowed to work on campus. So any time I post a job I get a least 50 resumes.
I usually do about 8 interviews so I have to narrow it down. As I go through the resumes I label them Yes No and Maybe.
Resumes with spelling mistakes are usually automatic Nos, with allowances made when English is obviously not the person's first language. One of the resumes I got this week was addressed to Mrs Johnston.

Maybes are usually ones with no retail experience.
Yes's are usually ones with some retail experience and at going to be here at least one more year.

There are some variables if something catches my attention, one of my current staff had never had any kind of job. I figured he would do a good job and decided to give him a chance. Plus I remember when I was his age and caught in the 'every job wants experience so can't get a job to get experience' cycle.

Once I narrow it down to just the Yes's I start making phone calls and whether a person gets an interview can be as random as not being home. Once I have booked about 8 interviews I stop calling.

Choosing staff can be a difficult decision. Often I get more than one interviewee that I think would do a good job so it can be hard to choose. Sometimes I decide based on what the person is studying. Western Film experience would be much more useful to a Film or Media student than a biology major.

Some trends I've noticed.
A lot of people have worked at Tim Horton's. A lot of people have worked at Call Centers, almost always for a short time. I'm getting more resumes from people who are way overqualified to work in a movie theatre.

Some things that bug me.
During the interview when I ask why the person wants to work at Western Film I usually hear something like 'I want to work with people'. Just be honest people, you want a job to make money.
People who apply for every job without really caring what the job is.
-To work in a movie theatre a person needs to have at least some interest in and knowledge of movies.

I have a pretty good track record with hiring choices. Most of the staff I've hired have worked out. There's been a few I've had to let go. Usually for not doing their share of the work with the other employees having to pull up the slack. Also for just plain not paying attention, if someone consistently does things like putting up display case signs upside down or putting a Starts Friday tag on the wrong poster they won't be around long.

Piracy / Copyright infringment discussion.

Just to let readers know the person I have been having the discussion with about piracy and copyright infringement in the Transformers post below posted a response to my last comment. It took me a couple days to approve it because I was waiting until I had time to write a response (damm my lack of typing skills!)
So feel free to check out the comments and weigh in with your own opinions.

Western Film mini movie review - Live Free or Die Hard

Another movie I've been really looking forward to. The first Die Hard is one of my favorite movies. The new one was a heck of a lot of fun even if it was somewhat watered down. To get a PG rating in the US there weren't any swear words etc.

What there was was a lot of good old-fashioned action/adventure with a good dose of humour. Bruce Willis was great again as John McClane and so was Justin Long as the sidekick. There were a few logic holes and no human could take as much physical damage as John McClane but, hey, it's a movie. The effects were mostly pretty good but some were obvious effects. The stuff that was physical stuntmen was pretty cool.

In short if you want 2 hours and 10 minutes of good old fashioned fun see this movie when it comes to Western Film.

Due to the PG rating I was forced to miss Bruce Willis's signature phrase- yippee-ki-yay-mother-f**cker. That would have been good for a cheer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Swag #7 StarDust sweater

This is one of the nicer items I got at ShowCanada. It's a sweater with the Stardust logo on it. StarDust is coming out later in the summer. It's a fantasy with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro having fun chewing up the scenery. From the trailers I've seen it could be good or bad.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Next Week's Movies

The first show next week was fairly easy. There was nothing new available so I picked up Mr. Brooks that was available last week. The harder choice was whether to keep Spider-Man 3 as a late show. It did extremely well on the weekend but tonight (Monday) we had a no-show (0 customers) for the late show. That hasn't happened in months. Next week it's at 9:25 instead of 9:45, that should help. Also the only other second-run theatre in town isn't playing it for some incomprehensible reason.

Booking was checking on Nancy Drew and to my surprise Ocean's 13 as possibly coming off. I don't plan to play Nancy Drew and would be surprised if Ocean's came off this quick. There are some big movies opening in the next few weeks so it may get pushed out.

Unless Ocean's comes off the next couple weeks should be Away From Her and Waitress.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Swag #6 Ratatouille oven mitt?

I'm not completely sure what this is. It looks similar to an oven mitt but is more of a pouch. If anyone knows what it is please tell. I'm not much of a cook. This will be given away when we play the film.

What a difference the trailer can make -Superbad.

Superbad is a teen comedy coming out in August. I've seen the first PG trailer in theatres and thought it looked bad and had absolutely no interest in it. Today I watched the restricted trailer which does a much better job of promoting the film. One gets a much better idea what the film is actually about. One unusual thing, most times the trailer for adults is cleaned up by editing out the naughty bits. For the PG trailer they must have shot the same scenes with cleaner dialogue.

You may notice the beginning of the trailer has a MPAA rating notice in red, noting it's a restricted trailer. Most trailers have it in green marking a PG or G version. These are called Red Band and Green Band trailers. In the states they have to show the band in front of each trailer. Since we have a different ratings system we usually cut them off here.

Here's the PG trailer which sucks.

Here's the R trailer (coarse language) - this one is way funnier and I may actually go see the movie.

Another place in case youtube pulls it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Paramount trying really hard to keep Transformers from Pirates.

We received a notice from Paramount today. It's not really relevant to Western Film since we are a second run theatre but I found it interesting nonetheless.

This is the most elaborate method of trying to keep a film from pirates yet.

Transformers opens at most theatres on Tuesday July 3. The prints will arrive on Friday the 29th. A film print generally comes in two metal cans, each one holding some of the smaller reels that put together constitute the film. The second can is going to have a combination lock on it?! Not until Monday the 2nd will the theatres will be able to get their combination by phone or over the Internet from Technicolor.

The desired result is the full film won't be made up until as close as possible to the opening to keep employees from pirating it.

I wish people would realize piracy is theft and the movie industry didn't have to take all these expensive precautions.

If I was running a first run theatre I'd be a little nervous. If something goes wrong and you can't get that second can open there isn't much time to get another print. All it would take is for the depot to mix up two of the locks or write a number wrong.

I'd have a set of bolt cutters handy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Next Week's Movies

Spider-Man 3 was finally available. Now watch it not do well. I decided to run a late show even though it's pretty long. It's kind of an experiment to see how movies aimed at people who will watch a late show do during the summer. My staff hope it goes over well so I'll be able to run more late shows. With the single shows they only get a couple hours a night.

Away from Her wasn't available.

A few others were.

Mr Brooks- This will be the movie the week after Spidey unless Away from Her is available.

Hostel Part 2 - No freakin' way.

28 Weeks Later - I would consider playing this one as a late show. We don't normally play horror but it's kinda a horror/sci-fi hybrid. I noticed it played a long time at the Silver City. However it's from Fox who want full shows. I couldn't play it by itself all week. In a couple weeks they may drop the full shows bit. I also thought of playing it with Waitress, both are from Fox so they may let us split them. However at least once in the past they wouldn't split even with their own product.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Western Film mini movie review - Fantastic 4 - Rise of the Silver Surfer.

I have always been a huge fan of comic book/sci-fi movies. A lot of people didn't like it but I thought the first one wasn't great but was a lot of turn-your-brain-off entertainment. I was so looking forward to this movie I did something I almost never do, went on opening night. I did cheat a little and go to Westmount rather than the Silver City. The Silver City would have been packed and has gone downhill lately. The movie never seems to be in focus anymore. Westmount isn't as busy and cheaper and it was in focus. It's also closer to my place.

Silver Surfer was similar to the first one with extra action and a bit more spectacle since they didn't have to spend time building the characters like in the first one. It wasn't a great movie but it didn't suck either. I enjoyed it a lot. Western Film will probably be playing it at some point. I added the probably because it's from Fox and anyone who reads this blog knows how much fun they can be to deal with.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Release Dates, Midnight Shows and Previews.

There's been a few items on these topics I've thought of lately.

Every week I get a list of new and changed release dates for various films. Most are setting definite release dates for movies that so far were just fall 07 etc. Some films get moved around to compete with or avoid other films. Right now there's 2 huge movies slated for Memorial Day 2009 so one of them will have to move.

Sometimes films are pushed back because they aren't finished yet or moved to a dead time of year because they suck.

Some films move around quite a bit, Sunshine was supposed to come out in March, which it did in the rest of the world. It was moved to September, now is opening July 20th.

Then there's the odd little changes, in the next couple months both Harry Potter and Die Hard were moved up a day. This seems odd to do this so close to the release date. Especially with all the attention paid to the grosses in the first few days. I'm not sure about Die Hard but I know Harry Potter has the old release date on its' posters etc. They are probably going to try to make the grosses for the weekend seem higher by opening early. Maybe they want to break one of the arcane records such as highest 5 days gross including midnight shows Tuesday.

Most people don't realize the decision whether to play midnight shows of big movies on Thursday night isn't entirely up to the theatres. Each studio decides if midnight shows can be done.
Sony allowed midnight shows for Spider-Man 3 and pretty much every theatre in London did one. Warner allowed midnight shows for Ocean's Thirteen but Rainbow was the only to do it as far as I know.
Fox said there could be no midnight shows for Fantastic Four 2. That was my first clue it wasn't going to be as good as I hoped. Not allowing midnight shows probably meant they didn't want negative word of mouth spreading too early to affect the first weekend grosses.

One thing happened Saturday I haven't seen for a while. Disney did public previews of Rattatoille in most cities including a couple theatres in London. If you went at 7pm on Saturday you could pay the normal price and see it. This used to be common practice to spread (hopefully) good word of mouth in advance of the official opening weekend. I haven't seen this done in a while. I had assumed because of piracy issues and with so much attention on the opening weekend now it's also risky to take a chance on any bad worth of mouth spreading. Disney must have a lot of faith in this movie to chance doing preview screenings.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Western Film mini movie review - Waitress

I went to see this movie because I had heard it was a nice quirky little comedy and because I like Nathan Fillion who plays the male lead. All I can figure is this is one of those movies where different people react very differently. It was definitely quirky. I liked it at first but I think I hated it at the end, I can't decide. I could tell a few of the other audience members were as frustrated as me. Others seem to have really liked it. My film studies training was pulling out all kinds of messages and meanings that may or may not have been intended.

This is one of those movies I'm going to have to take my own opinion out of the decision whether to play it or not. Unless Fox makes it impossible with their weird rules Western Film will still play it in the next few weeks.
Some of the pies looked really good. I wonder if there's a pie diner like that around here.

Western Film mini movie review - Surf''s Up

I always feel kinda weird going to movies that are basically meant for kids but a lot of them are still fun. Thankfully I wasn't the only person in the theatre. I try to go to a late show the first week a kid's movie is out. After the first week they usually drop the late shows. I don't really want to go when the kiddies are there.

Surf's Up was funny but pretty generic. It reminded me of a lot of the mid-range animated movies like Madagascar. Fun to watch but certainly not a classic. The animation was really good. The idea of doing it as a mock documentary was kinda neat.

I don't think it will play at Western Film. We usually don't play films meant just for kids.

If you go see it there's a short scene after the credits.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Next Week's Movies

Next week was one of those weeks I hate. Both of my first choices were unavailable. Spider-man 3 is down to one screen at the Silver City so I figured it would come off but they held it. I was hoping to play Away From Her if Spidey wasn't available. Away From her isn't available so either the Hyland is keeping it another week or the print is going to another city.

So I had to choose something I wouldn't normally play just to fill the time more or less.

Meet The Robinsons- I had actually booked this in before changing my mind. I was going to try it as an experiment to see if we can do better with film aimed just at kid's now that Rainbow is first run. However I looked at some films we played last summer that appeal to both children and adults like Over The Hedge and Ice Age 2. There weren't a lot of kids to those movies , it was still mostly adults. Meet The Robinsons was aimed at kids only. There were also a couple other factors. The kids are still in school and we don't play matinees which parents usually expect to take kids to.

That left me with two choices.

The Hoax- with Richard Gere. I heard it was a good film and Gere is a movie star but I just didn't think it had enough awareness. On the off chance I have another week with no new movies available I'll play it.

Hot Fuzz- I choose this film because it had higher awareness and buzz and it was pretty funny. I also had some requests for the poster which oddly enough is often a good indicator of how well a movie will do. I'm not sure how it will do with the students mostly gone. Hopefully I'll get surprised.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Comments , Questions, is anyone there?

I thought I'd post a 'blank' post. If anyone has any questions please leave as comments. I would also be interested in suggestions for posts or comments on the blog, either positive or negative. Remember you can always post anonymously if you happen to know me in person. If you leave a negative just make sure I can't tell it's you or I'll hunt you down, just kidding, maybe.

I'm also wondering if anyone is actually reading it. The old hit counter I had going got up to about 5000 hits before I accidentally erased it. The new Google counter I'm using says a lot of the hits are coming in from search engines. Probably what's on this blog isn't of interest ( or comprehensible ) to people outside of London.

I'm also wondering / hoping if people are getting my slightly off kilter sense of humour such as the hunt you down bit above.

Sicko Premiere with Michael Moore here in London!

I'm sorta surprised I didn't hear about it earlier but I found out Tuesday there was going to be a showing of Sicko in London Friday night. That wasn't too big a deal until I found out director Michael Moore was going to be there. There were rumours some stars like Kiefer Sutherland might come as well.

On Wednesday the USC radio station CHRW asked if I could get some passes so they could review the movie. I called the distributor Alliance Atlantis and asked if I could have some passes. They sent enough for the radio station staff and three friends and I to go.

It was a pretty big deal, media from all over were there to cover it. It turned out parts of the film were shot in London which is why Moore chose to show in London for the first time in North America. Also Moore's Grandfather was from this area.

It was a bit annoying at first, we arrived early to get good seats and because they always give away more passes than there are seats on the assumption some won't be used. We were kept waiting outside in the hallway for over an hour even though the theatre was empty. It was almost show time by the time we got in. The hallway got really hot and the older woman in front of us had way too much perfume on, it was literally making our eyes water. If the staff had tried to make us squish together to make the line shorter I would have refused.

Anyway, we finally got in and Moore came out and said a brief intro before the movie. I've never seen him in person before, he's quite funny.

The movie presentation was quite surprising to me, they showed it on video, not film. It wasn't a great video projector either but fine for a movie like this. One of my friends leaned over and asked me if the picture was supposed to be so dark. It started up about 10 seconds into the movie for some reason so they had to restart it.

Sicko itself was good, pretty typical Moore stuff however you could see some differences from previous films.

He wasn't in the film as much. I wonder if some of it was shot by other people.

There was less of the ambush style interview he is famous for, most likely because everyone knows who he is. When they found out his next movie was going to be on health care all the companies in the US told their employees not to talk to him.

The basic premise of the film is comparing the US health care system to other countries, mostly Canada and France. Needless to say the film didn't even pretend to be objective.

It was very compelling in it's arguments. Even reasonably educated me could see he was leaving things out but it didn't detract from the overall argument.

Every Canadian who has ever complained about our health care system should see this film and be thankful they aren't Americans, especially poor Americans.

The film wasn't as entertaining as his earlier efforts but was still pretty darn funny.

Moore did a Q&A after the film which was really interesting. It turned out a lot of the London people who were in the film were there including the guy who got his fingers chopped off and the doctor that reattached them. They gave him a white doctor's coat which was kind of cute.

One point he made that was quite striking for me was how Canada's health care system could go either way, toward the French system that covers things ours currently doesn't or towards an American style private system. I for one am going to try to make sure we don't go the US way.

BTW The only star other than Moore there was actress Shirley Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland's mother.

2 screenings with the Director present in 2 days!

One of those once in a lifetime coincidence things happened. On Friday I saw the North American premiere of Sicko with Director Michael Moore there. Saturday I saw a Canadian film called That Beautiful Somewhere at the Hyland. Director Robert Budreau was there as well. See separate posts on each film.

Swag #5 Simpsons Movie mugs.

These mugs were on the tables at the ShowCanada lunch sponsored by Fox who's releasing the movie. Pretty standard plastic mugs but neat nonetheless. The movie logo is on one side, the Duff logo on the other. I snagged three, I'm going to give two away as prizes and probably keep the other one myself.

Western Film mini movie review - Ocean's Thirteen.

Went to see Ocean's Thirteen tonight. Talk about stars, pretty much everyone was in it, even Super Dave Obsorne. Overall a fun movie. The story was very complicated but not as bad as Ocean's Twelve. It was funny , even some movie star in jokes. I seemed to be the only one in the audience who got the in jokes though. There were some parts that were funny but didn't make much sense like Matt Damon's nose. I'm surprised there hasn't been some complaints about one joke if I heard it right. I think I'd have to see it again to make complete sense of it but fully enjoyed it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Western Film movie reviews

I saw Mr. Brooks tonight. The trailer made the movie look interesting and I wanted to see it but it wasn't on the top of my list. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a good thriller with some interesting twists. The actors were pretty good, Costner makes a pretty creepy bad guy. Dane Cook who is normally more of a comedic actor did well in a more dramatic role. Demi Moore was Demi Moore. The movie is rated 18A for some fairly explicit violence. Apparently it's supposed to be part of a trilogy so we'll see if the others get made. It's done okay at the Box Office, about 12 million. Western Film may or may not play it. If I get a week where there's nothing like Spider-Man available I'll slot it in. It didn't get a huge amount of press but the older audience that comes to Western Film during the summer will remember the start power Costner and Moore used to have.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Swag #4 Transformers gym bag

Speaking of Transformers in the last post. This neat gym bag was part of the swag at the ShowCanada meal sponsored by Paramount. It's actually quite nice. It'll be given out as a prize the week we play the film.

Stupid and obvious Studio marketing

- A few years ago Sony got caught using quotes from a fake movie critic on it's marketing materials. To make it even stupider they used the name of a real newspaper?!

-The MTV Movie awards this weekend have been getting quite a thrashing in the movie blogs. One of the awards was 'Best Movie You Haven't Seen yet'. Seriously, I'm not joking. So first there's the issue of how one picks the winner for that award? Oh, wait a minute, maybe one doesn't even have to choose a winner since the whole award is an obvious plug. MTV is owned by Viacom which also happens to own Paramount who's big summer movie is Transformers which just happened to win the award.

- There were also three clips from Transformers in the awards show. Obviously the reason for clips is to promote the movie so you want as many people to see them as possible. The clips were uploaded to youtube by someone. I saw them linked to by at least 2 blogs. Paramount pulled the clips!! I'd love to hear their reasoning for that one.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Next Week's Movies

Next week was pretty much a no-brainer. There weren't any new films available so I booked in Georgia Rule which I didn't book last week.

Spider-man 3 might be available the next week. It's the lowest grosser at the multiplexes here so it will likely come off to make room for Fantastic 4.

I noticed Fracture is still playing at the Westmount even though Western Film is playing it. I guess the studio figures we are far enough apart we won't affect each other's business.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Western Film movie reviews

Disclaimer- this is my personal opinion and you may not agree. I admit I'm in a bit of a conflict of interest since I don't want to dissuade people from seeing a film at Western Film.

KNOCKED UP - the advance word on this film was very positive and it didn't disappoint. I think I can safely say it was the most consistently funny movie I have ever seen. There weren't a lot of laugh out loud moments but I had a pretty big smile the whole time. It also somehow managed to make crude humour intelligent. It will definitely play at Western Film but probably not for a while. I think the word of mouth on this film will be good and it will play at the first run theatres for a while. It's the kind of film that plays for a while unlike blockbuster films that open huge but don't play too long.

28 WEEKS LATER- I don't normally watch a lot of horror films but the first one was really good. This one was neat, interesting story, it was very gory but the editing was so fast you could barely see any of it. They also used a shaky camera quite a bit. This won't play at Western Film because it's a horror movie and from Fox.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3- Long spectacular roller coaster ride that didn't make a lot of sense. Fun characters, incredible special effects. Didn't seem as kid friendly as perceived. Not for little kids. Will play at Western Film but not for a while.

Fewer movie ads on Telelvision?

I've read a couple thing recently that indicate the studios will probably do fewer ad buys on TV. Some companies are switching advertising dollars to the Internet, figuring the primary audience for movies, teenagers and young adults, will be more likely to see it.

Technology like Tivo and PVR's are another reason. So many people are recording things to watch later and/or skip the commercials. The usual advertising strategy of blanket ads the last few days before opening weekend goes out the window if people don't want the shows until after the weekend.

I see the latter point. I got a new computer a few months ago with a PVR built in. I record pretty much everything to watch later. However I am watching more TV in total. I basically gave up on watching TV series because they were constantly moving them around and I would miss some. With the PVR there's a guide for up to two weeks ahead so I just select the items I want to record. I started watching 3 series, Bones, Heroes and Ugly Betty. I do fast forward through the commercials but if I see one that looks interesting I'll go back and watch it especially movie commercials. On the other hand I just got around to watching some episodes of South Park I recorded back in March. There were a lot of ads for Fido which is long gone from Theatres.

I can think of one thing that would help. Instead of concentrating the advertising in the last few days before the movie opens start the commercials a couple weeks earlier. Most people who record things probably watch them fairly quickly.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Why did Disney do this?

For reasons unknown Disney recently renamed it's home video division to Disney Home Entertainment. Before that I believe it was Buena Vista, the name Disney uses for most of it's distribution.
The odd thing is that Disney has always tried to keep it's name off movies that didn't fit the wholesome kid friendly image it had. In 1984 they created Touchstone pictures specifically to release movies with more adult content and leave off the Disney name.
The reason this came to my attention was the upcoming release of Badder Santa on HiDef DVD for Christmas. Badder Santa is the even more naughty version of Bad Santa which starred Billy Bob Thornton as a foul mouthed, heavy drinking, department store Santa.
So now a movie called Badder Santa will be released under the Disney banner, how long before some unknowing parent sees Santa and Disney on the package and buys it and scares the crap out of a couple kids.