Saturday, September 29, 2007

A really interesting movie poster discovery.

We have been selling off old movie posters from a huge stock we have. As posters have sold out of our displays I have been refilling the displays with posters rolled up in a cabinet. We had over 650 titles with multiple copies of most so that's a lot of posters.

I was looking through the posters to fill a display and noticed a smaller than usual rolled poster that I had always thought was Escape from LA. It turned out to be an original advance for Escape from New York! It's in really good shape with only a couple pinholes. I checked on ebay and there was one on there for $455?! It was in better shape than mine but not a lot better. I was surprised at the price because ebay has generally lowered prices for most collectibles. That poster must be truly rare. I figure I'll throw mine on ebay later and see what happens.

My Poster Collection - The Last of Sheila

Another mystery poster, I think I got this poster when I collected on Raquel Welch for a while. She's the bottom one of the little heads in the question mark. I doubt this poster is worth more than few dollars.

Things don't always work out / Weirdsville

I was contacted by a distributor named Equinoxe about playing a Canadian film called Weirdsville. Apparently it is aimed at the student type market. It stars a couple somewhat well-known guys, Wes Bentley who was in American Beauty and Scott Speedman who was in the Underworld movies and Felicity. The trailer made it look like a quirky black comedy, I was looking forward to seeing it. It's about a couple of stoners who try to hide the body of a woman who overdosed, involves Satan worshippers as well.

I was going to play it as it looked interesting and I try to support Canadian films when I can.

However playing it would have been a bit of a risk. The release date is Oct 5th so I would have had to commit to the movie for that week without knowing what else might have been available. There hasn't been a lot of promotion and when they contacted me there wasn't a lot of time left before it was supposed to come out. Playing a movie that hasn't been promoted enough is a guarantee of an empty theatre. They did send me a trailer which a few of you may have seen, it played in front of a couple shows of Hairspray. They also sent me some posters. The posters were a clue I might not want to play the film. They were smaller than the standard movie poster size. It may not seem like a big deal but it signals a low promotion budget to me.

The sticking point was the admission price. This would have been a first run showing which normally carries a higher admission price. However I tried charging $7.50 for a first run movie called Paper Clips once and it didn't work very well. Even through I tried to make it clear as possible the price was different for Paper Clips only. I still had people thinking we had raised our prices for all movies. I also had people showing up expecting to pay $4.25. As a result I don't want to try that again so I told Equinoxe I would only charge our usual $4.24.

Equinoxe decided they couldn't open the film at $4.24 so we won't be playing it. I pulled the trailer and posters.

I think they probably shot themselves in the foot. Unless the film does well in the larger cities or the Hyland picks it up it probably won't play in theaters anywhere in London now.

Who knows maybe we'll end up playing it later if it does get some press, but I doubt it.

Special Presentations Hatchet / Thing-Fest.

There's a couple special films coming to Western Film in October.

On Oct 19 and 20th at midnight we are playing a horror movie called Hatchet. Apparently it's a homage to the slasher flicks of the 80's and is funny as well as gory. Some of the actors who played various movie bad guys in the 80's make appearances. Robert Englund who played Freddy Kruger, Kane Hodder who played Jason in the Friday the 13th films and Tony Todd who played The Candyman.
It's a first run exclusive showing. The distributor contacted me about doing the showing a couple weeks ago. It's basically a promo for the DVD release of the film which I'm not really keen on but that's the way things are going. The distributor sent me a whole bunch of posters so I'm going to go around to the various comic book store and see if they will help promote the show.

The following weekend there will be a showing at Midnight on Saturday Oct 27th of John Carpenter's classic The Thing as part of Thing-Fest . This is the 7th year of the fest. These guys are serious fans. They went out to B.C. and found the original shooting locations where there were still some remnants of the sets. I've been surprised at the lengths people have gone to to see the movie, literally. There was a guy from Ireland one year, a few who had come from the US and I got an e-mail a few days ago from a guy who's coming from New York this year. He was worried we would sell out on him. The theatre seats 375 so I don't think it will be an issue.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Next Week's Movies

I actually knew in the middle of last week what would be playing starting Friday. I was told The Simpsons Movie would be available but Fox wouldn't let me split it, not even with another Fox title, Die Hard.

I figured Simpsons was one of the few Fox movies I could play both shows each night so I was willing to play it and not wait for Fox to let me split it as I'm doing with Die Hard.

However there were two movies I would have bumped Simpsons for, Bourne Ultimatum and Superbad. I checked and both were still doing really well and the odds of them coming available were low, really low.

So I booked in The Simpson's Movie for 7:00 and 9:00 shows. I'm looking forward to seeing it again myself.

It turned out there were a bunch of films available but nothing I would rather play than the Simpsons.

Death Sentence - Fox so no splits plus bombed.

Halloween- we don't play horror, no one comes.

Balls of Fury - small, only somewhat funny, movies don't do well here.

Brothers Solomon - apparently one of the worst movies ever made so not likely.

Sunshine - anyone who reads this blog knows my opinion on this film and I would have loved to play it but it's from Fox and unfortunately it just doesn't have enough awareness for enough people to show up even though it's a great movie.

The Nanny Diaries- This is what is commonly known as a 'chick flick' and not a bad one I hear. Western Film does really well with movies aimed at women so I do plan to play it.

For the following week unless Bourne is available I might play Nanny Diaries and either Stardust or Die Hard if Fox will let me split it. Nanny Diaries and Stardust in the same week might overload the chick flick market though.

Sony has this really annoying policy of putting two weeks between when a film comes off first run and is available to second run so Superbad will be at least two weeks away, probably more like four.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Brief History of Western Film.

For those of you joining the program already in progress I thought I'd give a bit of a back story to Western Film.

Western Film stated as student club called the Western Film Society sometime in the early 80's. I have some paperwork and schedules from 1982.

At some point the name was changed to Western Film Community. At this point WFC was still a student club. Members worked 'shifts' in the theatre.

WFC ran 16 mm films on the weekend in Middlesex College rm 110. Usually 3 or 4 different movies a weekend, a mix of new stuff and old stuff. This was before home video was as popular as it is now. We brought back things like Bill and Ted's Excellent Journey, Scarface, Die Hard. Heavy Metal was really popular because at the time it wasn't available on video at all, just film.

I joined around 88/89. I became a VP and then President.

Around 1993 it was getting harder and harder to operate as a 16 mm theatre. The distributor we had to use was ordering fewer 16 mm prints. So we faced a choice between going to video or going to 35mm film which is what most theatres used. With video projection at that time even an expensive projector looked like crap. So we decided to go 35mm.

At the time a license was needed to run 35mm equipment in Ontario. Luckily I was working in a magazine/variety store downtown at the time and knew a projectionist who agreed to train me and fib a bit on how many hours I had apprenticed. It was supposed to be 800 hrs. I did about 50 but that was enough. The licence was largely a holdover from when the film was flammable. However one was still supposed to do the apprenticeship and do a written and practical exam to get the licence.

The USC bought 35 mm film equipment and installed it in Middlesex 110. We had to get the University to expand the existing projection booth. Even still it was pretty tight. I had to crawl under each projector to get to the other. We were running 20 minute reels with switchovers so I often had to do it in the dark and in a hurry.

About a year later the UCC was renovated and we moved into the McKellar room. Before the renovation it was just a big square one story room. During the renovations they added the second story and the balcony.

There were a few things that sucked. Because the room is oriented on the diagonal we had to settle for a fairly small motorized screen in the back corner of the stage. I think it was 20 feet wide. The floor was flat with these silly little chairs that hooked together. The only door into the booth was on the far side away from the entrance.

Basically it was the old multipurpose room that ends up good for nothing, the acoustics were good for live stuff but bad for movies.

I trained and we licensed a couple of other members to do the projection.

It was about this time I left to work full time as a projectionist at Famous and Cineplex which at the time paid really well (mostly because the union controlled all the licences). I was also running my home business selling collectible magazines.

Right around 1999 the projectionist thing was coming to an end. The government had, to many
people's surprise, eliminated the apprenticeship part of the licence. Cineplex and Famous immediately began 'training' their managers and getting them licensed by writing the test.

In the time I was gone WFC had become Western Film, had gotten actual theatre seats put in, put a door on the other end of the booth, started running 7 days a week with paid staff and a full time manager. This was mostly done by my friend Mark Maclellan who was president of WFC after me for a couple years then ended up working there full time. He was promoted to the manager of Entertainment Productions of which Western Film was a part. Someone else ran Western Film for about a year then quit.

At this point I saw the end coming with projection at Cineplex, I figured it was only a matter of time before they eliminated the licences entirely. The wages had already started to come down since the union had lost a lot of it's bargaining power. Luckily the job at Western Film opened up and I applied for and got it. I had a 35mm licence which was still needed at the time, was familiar with the organization and loved movie theatres.

This was in November 2000. The next summer we put in the current, larger, screen and a better theatre sound system. That was the last really big project we had until this summer when we finally got our permanent concession stand instead of pushing it all out on carts every night.

So we come to the current Western Film. At some point we are going to put in a Dolby Digital sound system. We have DTS digital sound but it has a big weakness in that the CD-Roms have to come with the print which doesn't always happen. With Dolby the digital sound is on the film.

The next big thing will be the replacement of the 35mm equipment with a Digital Projector. I figure about 2010 it's going to start getting hard to get 35 mm prints in a similar fashion as happened before with 16mm.

These is one other possibility: the USC is taking over the gyms when Campus Rec moves out. I've always thought they would make a nice little three or four plex. Not likely to happen but I can dream can't I?

Friday, September 21, 2007

This looks like my kinda film.

This is the new trailer for a film called Southland Tales which looks pretty cool. It's look weird, violent and over the top, just my kinda film. It's from the director who did Donnie Darko so that says a lot. It seems to have a ton of actors in it. I think I even saw Christoper Lambert in it at the very end. It apparently comes out on November 9th. Something tells me it probably won't open in London. Maybe it will do well enough as a cult film for Western Film to play.

My Poster Collection - Space Hunter in 3-D!

This is the advance poster for a very bad sci-fi film from 1983. The standard post-apocalyptic sci-fi of the time complete with bad special effects and bad acting. It was Molly Ringwald's second movie, somehow she managed to survive the stigma and ended up in the John Hughes movies that made her an icon.
The regular poster showed the actors so it's more popular. On ebay this poster seems to go for about $15.00.
The movie was in 3-D but I don't think I saw it in 3-D. It had all the usual bad 3-D moves, people throwing things at the camera, pointing, ships flying over etc.
It's on DVD if you want to catch a laugh.

Movie Review - Mr. Woodcock

This was one of those films that it was hard to tell from the trailers whether it was good or crap. There was some good stuff in the trailer that suggested it could be good but maybe all the good stuff was in the trailer? I like Seann William Scott as a comedic actor and Billy Bob Thornton plays a good slimeball. The final product was somewhere in the middle. I enjoyed it but it wasn't the funniest movie I'd seen recently. The ending was kind of week. Still worth watching. I don't think it will be playing at Western Film. Comedies that don't get good buzz generally don't do well. The closest comparison is the similar School For Scoundrels from last year. I played that at Western Film and it didn't do very well.
The poster sucks. Not interesting and very obvious photoshopping.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Movie Review - Shoot 'em Up.

I've been looking forward to this film since I saw the trailer. It looked like a lot of fun. It's basically a live action Bugs Bunny cartoon including carrots and 'What's Up Doc?'. It's sheer over the top, campy fun. The level of suspension of disbelief required has rarely been higher than in this film. I've talked to a few people who've seen it and some loved it, others thought it was too over the top. It shares many of the aspects of cartoons, logic problems such as how the bad guys keep knowing where Mr. Smith is and a certain amount of bending the laws of physics and time/space.

I quite enjoyed the film. It did lack something that I can't quite define, something that would have made it even better. I think it may have had something to do with the direction.

Western Film may play it. We don't normally play smaller action films but I think this one is sufficiently different that it would do well here. It'll depend on what else is available.

Next Week's Movies

There were 2 films available for next week.

Harry Potter- Naturally I booked this one in. It's good that we got it before the students get too far into mid-terms etc.

Stardust- I do plan to play this but it wouldn't work well as a late show after Potter because it's not a late show kind of film and Potter is long so the late show next week starts quite late.

Hairspray has been doing really well, by Sunday it had already done more than some movies do all week. I decided it would make a good late show after Potter so it's playing at 9:45.

Fox still won't let me split Die Hard, too bad, it would have made a good late show after Potter.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My Poster Collection - Risky Business

This is an original one sheet for Risky Business in mint shape. This would have been worth a lot of money a while ago. Still, one place is Toronto wants $138 for one with tape marks. There's an ebay store that wants about $250 for one.

I'd love to get this poster framed. It's one of my farvorite movies and posters. However framing a poster this big costs about $150.00

Hollywood has been cured of it sequalitis temporarily.

The past summer broke records as the highest grossing summer ever. It was largely due to the preponderance of sequels. it was called the summer of threequels.

Pirates 3
Rush Hour 3
Spider-Man Three
Shrek Three
Bourne 3.
Ocean's Thirteen

there were sequels- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Die Hard 4, Harry Potter,
There were also semi-sequels, Mr. Bean's Vacation, Daddy Daycare, Evan Almighty.

The interesting thing is the relative lack of sequels coming up, this Christmas there are practically none. In fact a staff member and I were discussing the other day how neither of us could think of more than couple movies coming out at Christmas. I am Legend and Bee movie were most prominent.

There are a couple sequels coming up. Elizabeth: the Golden Age I would call a semi-sequel. Saw 4 is coming at Halloween. Alien Vs Predator 2. National Treasure 2. That's it for Christmas. There are remakes, I am Legend is a not obvious remake of The Omega Man.

Looking at next summer it's almost all original titles with only a few sequels. The big one being Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The only other ones listed are The Dark Night (Batman), Hellboy 2, Chronicles of Narnia 2. The Mummy 3, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 whatever that is.
.There's also James Bond 22 next Christmas. One site says the next Harry Potter film is next Christmas, not sure if that's right.

It will be interesting to see if the 'original' stuff can do as well as the massively hyped sequels with built in fan bases and awareness.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Harry Potter now top grossing series.

Warner Bros has announced the Harry Potter movies are now the highest grossing series of movies beating out James Bond and Star Wars. These numbers are somewhat subject to interpretation. If you include inflation the Bond movies are higher, and probably Star Wars as well. However in straight dollars Potter will be champ for a while. There's still 2 Potter movies to come out and unless someone screws up pretty bad that should add about another billion in worldwide gross. There (supposedly) won't be any more Star Wars movies. The James Bond series will keep going but they don't make anywhere near what one Harry Potter movie does.

More info here.

Simpons meet Star Wars

Another example of the creativity unleashed by the internet and youtube. There's a whole series of these.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Jim Emerson's advice to Hollywood.

Jim Emerson is a film critic who I find most interesting after Roger Ebert. He filed a lot of reviews for Roger Ebert while Ebert was off sick. He recently posted this article which I found quite interesting. It's his advice to Hollywood including such items as:

Quit relying on sequels.
Allow talent to develop. One film should not make or break a career.
Don't sully a good film or series of films by making bad sequels.
More nudity, less violence: this would be fine in most of the world but the prudes in the US would freak.
Embrace new technology instead of fighting it.

If you are interested in a more serious discussion about films then I would recommend you check out his blog Scanners.

Movie Review - Balls Of Fury

This will be a short one. The trailers made this film look like a stupid film with some funny bits. That's pretty much what it delivered. I'm willing to bet the script was bet for Jack Black. The lead actor was basically doing a Jack Black impersonation. Christoper Walken was funny. He was in it more than I expected.

Personally I think the only reason this film didn't go straight to video is Christoper Walken. This won't be playing at Western Film.

My Poster Collection - Tequila Sunrise

This is a kinda cool poster starring Mel Gibson, Michelle Pffeifer and Kurt Russell back when they were bigger stars and Mel wasn't crazy. I was a big fan of Mel for a while. I don't remember much about the movie itself. The poster is a little faded. You can tell the movie was from a while ago since the poster has been folded. It has been a while since posters were sent folded.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Next Week's Movies

Next week was easy to book. There were only two movies available, both of which I had planned to play.

Hairspray- I expect this to do well, some people seemed to love it, other didn't, one of those weird films.

Rush Hour 3- I'm curious about this one as it was highly anticipated but didn't do as well as hoped.

Stardust wasn't available yet which I find surprising, especially since it opened before Rush Hour. I wasn't sure whether to play it but I think I probably will. It's got legs as they say in the biz.

My booker was also checking on Harry Potter so it should come soon.

I'm also waiting for Fox to let me split Die Hard 4.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Next Week's Movies

There were initially no new movies available. I decided to bring in Chuck and Larry which I could have had this week but didn't want yet. I also decided to bring in No Reservations which had come available sometime in the last couple weeks. We usually do well with films aimed at women.

After I had booked and done some advertising I was told Rush Hour 3 was available after all. It'll probably play the week after.

I'm waiting for Fox to let me split Die Hard 4 before I play it.

Hairspray should come off soon. I was kinda surprised it wasn't available for next week.

Sorry for not posting - Frosh Week.

Sorry I haven't posted for a few days. This week is Frosh/ Orientation week at UWO so I've been working about 12 hours a day. My staff and I have been handing out popcorn samples and running a draw where the students pick up their bus passes as well as running the theatre at night. This is typically one of the busiest weeks of the year.
Next week I'll be back to posting pretty much every day.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Unrelated post but so cute and funny.

I found this video on Youtube. It's so cute and funny at the same time. I love the way it's edited to the music. Youtube has unleashed such a torrent of creativity. Hollywood would be wise to learn from it.

Movie Review - War

This is a smaller action movie a lot of people probably haven't heard of, it didn't get a lot of press. I didn't see much on it until about a week before it came out. I was really looking forward to it as it stars Jason Statham, one of my favorite actors. Jet Li is the villain and he's usually good too.
It was a serviceable movie, not horrible but not really good either. There was nothing out of the ordinary about it. Some good action and things blow up real good.
It was one of those movies with hyper kinetic editing that makes it hard to see what's going on.

The thing that pissed me off was how they used the two stars. Jet Li is a star because of his martial arts skills not his acting skills. Jason is a better actor but also has a martial arts background. He did all his own stunts in the Transporter films. There's only short scene with the two of the fighting.

For most of the film, and especially that scene, the film is edited the same way a film would be edited to make a non-skilled fighter look like a master. Short shots of body parts hitting things, shots that could be stuntmen etc. Both these guys are skilled fighters so why not let them show it off?!
Plus Jason never takes his shirt off.
Even if it was good this film wouldn't play at Western Film. These small action films never do well at Western Film.

I'm so embarassed.

There's this song I've heard quite a few times on the radio etc that I really liked but didn't know who sang it. It's quite poppy and sung by a young sounding woman so I figured it was Lindsay Lohan or Kelly Clarkson or someone like that.

On the advice of one of my staff I typed a few of the lyrics into google and found out who the singer is: Paris Hilton.

I'm so embarrassed, but I still like the song.