Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No more horror movies.

In the past Western Film hasn't played many horror movies and the ones we did have been some of the lowest grossers ever at Western Film. The last one I tried was Ring 2 which didn't do well for us even though it was a hit overall.
I decided to play 1408 based on the fact that it wasn't really a horror movie, more of a thriller with horror elements. Even if considered a horror movie it was a old-fashioned one with suspense and genuine scares, no 'torture porn' , flash editing or creepy Japanese kids walking jerkily. It got good reviews and good word of mouth.
However it still bombed at Western Film. I guess that's it for horror.

Next Week's Movies

There were 2 new movies available.

Licence to Wed- I found this movie better than I'd heard but from previous experience if a movie gets the bad movie reputation and wasn't a big hit it doesn't do well at Western Film.

Knocked Up- I booked this one in. I expect it to do quite well as it's one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time. It strikes me as a late night kind of movie so I decided to run a late show at 9:40. I'm actually surprised we got this one already. I figured it would keep playing right through most of the summer. It was one of those smaller movies that is a bit of a surprise hit based on the word of mouth. Movies like that tend to last longer than the blockbusters in theatres. Wedding Crashers was like that, we didn't get to play it until the end of August.

Fantastic Four 2 and Waitress are still in a bit of a Fox limbo.

Pirates 3 seems to be gone from all the first run theatres so unless one of them brings it back we should have it in 2 weeks. Disney usually puts 2 weeks between first and second run for some reason.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Swag #13 Surf's Up stuff.

Sony/ Columbia was really pushing the heck out of this film. The reception they set up at ShowCanada for this film was very elaborate. The room was fitted out to look like a jungle. They had monitors (from Sony of course) showing scenes from the film. It was also one of the nicest Swag items consisting of a kind of duffel bag, a sort of hat, I can't remember what they are called and a t-shirt. The lei was given to us as we came into the party.

I don't think the film did quite as well as they hoped. It was pretty entertaining though. Western Film won't be playing the film so I'm not sure what to do with the stuff. Maybe I'll give it to my nephew.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Next Week's Movies

Initally I was told the following were available.

Captivity- not bloody likely.

Fantastic 4 Rise of the Silver Surfer. -but Fox said it couldn't be split.

Waitress - Fox said this one couldn't be split either.

Fox's reasoning for not splitting is that they don't want to share the screen with another studio's product. I asked if we could play Waitress as an early show and Fantastic 4 as a late show. Since they are both Fox they'd be splitting with their own product which in a logical world wouldn't be a problem. I told the booker they would only get one show a night of either movie any way. neither is worth running two shows a night. The booker and I both agreed they will probably say no. At this point I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to be able to play Waitress.

Fox has this annoying habit of going into meetings right at the time all the theatres are trying to book for next week. I was told they wouldn't be able to give me an answer until Tuesday. Since we do all our advertising changes Monday night that wouldn't be much help.

Luckily in the meantime I was told Ocean's 13 was available so I booked it in for one show at 7pm. I'll see what happens with Fox next week.

The matinees for Evan Almighty were a complete disaster so I'm planning to try matinees once more with Pirates 3 and that will be it if it tanks.

It's still be a couple weeks before we get Pirates, the first run theatres are holding onto it forever.

I'm not expecting to get Knocked up until late August or maybe even early September. It would make a great Orientation week movie.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

SWAG #12 Hot Rod tank top.

This is a standard tank top with the logo for a movie called Hot Rod. At the time of ShowCanada I'd never even heard of it. Turns out it's a comedy about a bad stuntman played by Andy Samberg who i think was on Saturday Night Live or something. Looks pretty bad to me but the only review I had read so far said it was funny.

I dislike Fox even more because of Sunshine.

There's a movie called Sunshine I've been wanting to see since I heard about. I did a post on it months ago. It got moved to September then moved forward to July 20th. It's directed by Danny Boyle who did Trainspotting and 28 Days Later. One of the stars is Chris Evans who's in the Fantastic Four movies. The movie got good reviews and did well overseas where it's already opened.

However it seems Fox is doing it again, throwing a good movie out there with no support. I was hoping but not expecting Sunshine would open in London at one of the first run theatres. It didn't. I'm on vacation so I checked the Toronto listings since I take a day trip there sometimes. It's only playing in one theatre in all of TO and not a great one?! I was hoping it would at least be playing at one of the theatres with good picture and sound.

I guess my only hope is it does well and they expand it to more theatres.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Digital 3-D

The primary focus of one of the seminars at ShowCanada was digital 3-D. Which is being hailed as the great saviour of the theatre industry since it cannot be duplicated at home. It also can’t be camcorded in a theatre by pirates. 3-D is more practical now and could possibly be on every screen in the future. Older systems required two film projectors which had to be perfectly synced for the effect to work. A digital projector can flash frames faster so only one projector is required. 3-D glasses are still required but the ones we wore were similar to a pair of sunglasses. The demonstration we were shown was very good. The 3-D effect looks very real and isn't as hard on the eyes as older systems. There are various versions of 3-D available each with its pros and cons. The demonstration we saw was by Real-D, the industry leader and uses the cheap glasses but requires a silver screen. Other systems don’t require the silver screen but use more expensive eye wear.
More releases all the time come out in 3-D; we were shown parts of already released films such as Chicken Little and Meet The Robinsons. A song from the upcoming 3-D concert film from U2 was demonstrated.
3-D and Digital Projection is expected to get a huge boost in 2009 when James Cameron’s next film Avatar comes out. He has waited until the 3-D technology caught up with his vision for his next movie to make a follow-up to Titanic. So by May 2009 at least 3000 screens need to be 3-D capable.

SWAG #11 Live Free or Die Hard Gym bag.

Another one of the nicer swag items we were given. UPS must be a co-sponsor or something since they are on the bag as well. This will be a prize the week we play the movie.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

SWAG #10 Universal Umbrella

Universal gave out these white umbrellas. Nice enough but I don't need an umbrella. I have quite a collection in my office. People are constantly leaving them behind in the theatre.

That's my cat checking out the umbrella.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

SWAG #9 Transformers / Bee Movie Thing.

This appears to be a car air freshener one would hang on the rear-view mirror. It's got Transformers on one side and Bee Movie which is coming out in the fall on the other. I noticed when I saw Transformers there's something very similar or the same to the Bee side hanging in the car named BumbleBee. Talk about product placement.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Next Week's Movies

Next week was a pretty simple choice. There were 2 new movies available.

Evan Almighty- I had always planned to play this, even if it didn't do as well as expected. I decided to run matinees since it's basically a kid's movie.

1408- I wouldn't normally play this film because it's basically thought of as a horror movie. However it's a different kind of horror movie that did quite well and got good reviews. I've noticed people who don't normally watch horror asking about this one. I'm bringing it in as a late show.

Pirates 3 actually came back to a couple theatres so it'll be a little longer than I thought. I would imagine they brought it back to catch the people who run into sold out shows of Harry Potter.

Fantastic 4 isn't playing any more but it's Fox so they'll want per caps. Per caps basically means we pay a percentage of a price they set not the actual price we charge. We end up paying a lot more for the film. If I wait a couple weeks they usually take them off.

Not related but an amazing video.

I saw this on another blog and couldn't resist putting it on. The title on the other blog was The Greatest Entrance in Drag Ever. I couldn't agree more. There's no way what happens about 30 seconds in couldn't hurt. Some people look down on Drag Queens but I think they are some of the most courageos people I've met. It takes a lot to go out in a wig and heels especially in a place like London. Plus I doubt you'll ever meet anyone wittier or funnier than a good drag queen.
A tip: A drag queen prefers to be called she when dressed up.

It's the little things that count.

I try to make a visit to Western Film as enjoyable as possible, partially to differentiate us from other theatres and encourage repeat visits. I've noticed that even small things seem to grab people's attention, whether or not it encourages repeat visits I'll probably never know.

We recently started setting wetnaps out with the straws and napkins. I'm not sure how it started, I think one of my staff put some out and they went were popular so we started doing it for all shows. I've actually heard people says it's a cool idea.

Often one experience is enough to give me ideas. We have little kiddie bags that we give out when people ask. They usually ask for them so they can take some extra seasonings (dill pickle etc.) in or split some of the popcorn up for a child who wants different seasonings than the others. One night I saw a kid pouring seasoning into a napkin and I gave him a kiddie bag. He was very happy. I decided it was a good idea to put a tray of them out so people didn't have to ask. They've been very popular. Almost too popular, those seasonings are expensive.

Even the existence of the seasonings. I've noticed they've disappeared at many other theatres. I figure it's either because of the mess or the cost. At at least one theatre they'll give you a small packet of seasoning with popcorn purchase but if you want extra it's 50 cents. I'm not sure how big the packets are, I should ask for one next time. The seasoning's aren't going anywhere at Western Film. They are really popular, especially with kids. I even have a shaker of salt for those that really like salty popcorn.

We also put a tray of sugar packets out. Some parts of the world put sugar on their popcorn instead of salt. I figure most of it goes for people to put in their coffee but I have seen some putting it on the popcorn so I leave it there.

Anyone got any other little things to suggest?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Why I would go crazy if I owned my own movie theatre.

One good thing about being a one screen theatre is attention I can put to the little things. I can be very picky that everything is done just right, just ask my staff. I had a thought the other day that I would probably go crazy if I ever owned my own theatre. Right now if there's anything I can't do it's usually because someone else won't let me spend the money etc. If I had my own theatre I'd have to tell myself I couldn't do things. Every time I go to the Hyland I think of what I would do to the place but I tend to think big. When a friend and I were thinking of buying it many moons ago we noticed the really cool original ceiling was still there above the dropped ceiling. The dropped ceiling was probably put there to save on heating costs. If it was taken out the screen could be made bigger and the original ceiling would be visible but it would cost a lot to do all that. I tried to find a picture of the kind of old ceiling it has but couldn't. I'm mildly surprised since at least two of the old theatres in London had the same ceiling. The Mall theatre on Clarence St which was recently torn down had one. It had been a video arcade for a long time but the ceiling was still visible.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Matinee question for parents or anyone who like matinees

I have a question about what time it would be best to run matinees at? The times for Shrek 3 were 2:00 and 4:15 which seemed to work well. However since I have no kids and know no one who has kids old enough to go to the movies I'd thought I'd ask if anyone think there is a better time.
Part of the reason I'm asking is for long movies. For Pirates 3 for example, it is almost 3 hours long with trailers. So I could run one matinee at 2 pm which seems about right but then I only get one matinee in. I could run 2 matinees but they would have to be at 12:15 and 3:30. Both seem non optimal since one runs through lunch and the other dinner.
Anyone have any suggestions?


I tried playing matinees this weekend for Shrek 3. We haven't played matinees in several years. When Rainbow opened they took enough of the kid's market to make it uneconomical for us to play them any more.
During the summer I play more kid's films than during the school year. Partially just because there are more and partially because during the school year there are often more student oriented movies available (and more students). During the school year the theatre is heavily used on the weekends so I often can't play matinees even if I wanted to.
I know when I play a kid's movie I often get asked if I plan to play matinees so I figured there might be enough demand to try it again. I decided to experiment with Shrek 3. I figure if anything will bring people out for matinees it will be Shrek.
The experiment worked. I can't be too specific but I needed a certain amount of business to pay for the staff costs, we did a little over double that amount so I'm happy.
I plan to play matinees for other kid's movies such as Harry Potter and Evan Almighty. We'll see if it continues to work.
I considered bring in movies for just matinees like we used to but after some calculations decided it wouldn't work. For a movie like Shrek there isn't a lot of extra cost if the film bombs except staff since we were already playing the film. If I was to bring in a movie like Surf's Up for just matinees it would have to cover the entire minimum rental by itself. That plus the extra staff costs means we would have to have a heck of a lot of people show up just to pay for it.
The interesting thing is what to do about the long movies as far as matinees go? (see next post)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Next Week's Movies

Away From Her was available so I booked it. The only other new movie available was Nancy Drew which I had 0% intention of playing. Waitress and A Mighty Heart are still in reserve if there isn't any big movies available next week. I thought Pirates 3 might come off since it's down to one screen but I guess the Silver City held it. Also, according to the booker Disney usually puts two weeks between a film coming off first run and being available to second run i.e. Western Film.

I expect Evan Almighty to come off soon as well as Licence to Wed. We'll play Evan, probably won't play Licence.

Ocean's Thirteen is down to one screen so it may come off soon. We'll definitely play it.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Western Film mini movie review - Transformers

I have been wanting to see this movie for a while even though I had never watched the TV series. I'm a sucker for spectacle and sci-fi films and despite what some people think of him Director Michael Bay makes spectacle movies. Note I said spectacle, not spectacular. If I had to sum up this movie in one line:

The epitome of (possibly perfect) summer popcorn movie.

It was big, loud, funny, tons of action and as Roger Ebert said ' stuff that blows up real good'. The special effects were incredible, the machines look totally real. There was a strong female lead. There's only a few things I didn't like. There's some logic flaws I would have liked answered like why some of the machines can take more than one form and other can't. The action was edited at such a frantic pace I had trouble following what was going on at times. Related to the prior point was that the robots looked fairly similar and I sometimes wasn't sure who was fighting who. I'll watch it again when it comes to Western Film, I'll catch more detail.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A very cool Teaser trailer.

There's a trailer on in front of Transformers that has got to be one of the coolest teasers ever. It's especially appropriate for the demographics that will see Transformers. It's very low on information. There's a couple production company logos but no stars, director or even the name of the movie listed! Apparently one of the people in the trailer is from a TV show but I didn't recognize him. I won't give it away so you'll have to see it yourself. Paramount is being really secretive. Even copies of the trailer that have shown up on youtube have been pulled.
I found out through other sources the supposed name of the movie is Cloverfield, if you look it up on imdb.com there's tons of speculation as to what the movie is about. For maximum effect don't look it up until after you have seen the trailer.

Here's a link to a copy of the trailer on youtube. It may be gone by the time you read this.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Swag #8 Technicolor stuff

Technicolor is the company that actually makes the 35mm film movies. They also store the prints. I think they invented the first way of adding color to film. You may have seen their logo at the end of the credits for movies. They are also getting into the digital distribution of films. I think they are really pushing it judging by the nice non-movie swag they gave out at ShowCanada. One is a set of drink coasters. The other is a corkscrew in a nice case. Too bad I don't drink wine.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Next Week's Movies

I had to book on Tuesday this week since Monday was a holiday.

The only new movie available was A Mighty Heart, it got good reviews and everything but didn't make much of a splash. I'll keep it in reserve if we have a opening.

Away from Her wasn't available, the Hyland is keeping it for another week.

I was going to check on Waitress but got word that Shrek The Third was available. I decided to play Shrek. I'm going to do late shows since it's fairly short and I figure there's other people like me who'll go to the late show to avoid the children.

I'm trying an experiment as well, weekend matinees. We haven't run them for years but since Rainbow went to first run there may be a market for kid's matinees at Western Film again. If it works I'll play matinees of other kid friendly movies later in the summer.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Western Film mini movie review - Evan Almighty

When I first heard about this movie I thought it sounded cool. It's a semi sequel to Bruce Almighty in which God as played by Morgan Freeman gives his powers to Bruce as played by Jim Carrey. Steve Carell played a small part of Evan in that movie and plays the lead in this one. Morgan Freeman plays God again and commands Evan to build an Ark.

Originally I had expected something adult oriented like the first one, as time went by it turned out Universal had dumbed it down to get to the family market and played up the religious aspects. It was a stupid thing to do.

I enjoyed it well enough but it was mostly just there. It had fun moments and by the end made sense. It's the most expensive comedy ever made ($175 million) and I can see where the money went. There's a lot of effects involving animals, surprisingly, for that amount of money the effects are often fairly obvious.

I can't help but wonder where this could have gone if they had maintained an adult mentality similar to Bruce. Steve Carell is mostly known for The 40 year Old Virgin. His fans won't find the same kind of humour here and the family audiences won't know who he is. I thought making bland family comedies is what old comedians do when they aren't funny any more. I'm looking at you Eddie Murphy and Robin Williams.

The other actors were funny, especially Wanda Sykes. The other characters in the film were also really frustrating, straining suspension of disbelief to the limit. This guy is being followed around by two each of hundreds of kinds of animals including lions and elephants and they think he is just going crazy or having a mid-life crisis?!

This review probably sounds more negative than I mean it to. The movie was fun and fairly funny. Still worth $4.24 if you get my drift.